A Hub

for Groundbreaking Research

UC MERCED is home to a number of innovative research and training centers that offer extraordinary opportunities for our students. In state-of-the-art campus labs and in the field, our researchers are working on significant problems and innovative solutions in areas such as data analytics, robotics, solar and renewable energy, water quality and resources, health science, social inequality, immigration, child development, enterpreneurship, materials science and more. Explore information about some our research centers in the pages that follow and join in the excitement of discovery at UC Merced.

Research Centers & Institutes

Health Sciences Research Institute

The Health Sciences Research Institute (HSRI) is the University's focal point for health and medical research and aims to foster world-renowned researchers through its work to improve the health of the people in the San Joaquin Valley and beyond.

San Joaquin Valley regional health issues include asthma, valley fever (coccidioidomycosis), obesity, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, heart disease, risky teen behaviors, teen tobacco use, sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis, and many others.

HSRI’s collaborative multidisciplinary research clusters and community emphasis provide an opportunity to rapidly develop, test, and disseminate new ways of improving health and delivering healthcare.

Mechatronics, Embedded Systems and Automation Lab

The Mechatronics, Embedded Systems and Automation (MESA) Lab is earning UC Merced national recognition, and the campus’s expertise prompted the UC system to establish its Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Safety — which determines systemwide policies for drone use and serves as an information resource — at UC Merced.

Unmanned aerial systems, or drones, have significant appeal as remote sensing and actuation platforms for many civilian and commercial applications, from precision agriculture and using aerial mapping to explore and preserve historic sites to remote leak sensing in the atmosphere and in the underground world of natural gas pipelines.


The UC Merced Center for Humanities supports the exchange of intellectual and creative ideas among faculty members, students and the broader regional community. This is accomplished through a wide array of forums, from lectures and seminars to exhibits and films. The center enriches imaginations by deepening explorations of our interconnected lives.


CITRIS develops synergistic partnerships with academic institutions and corporate collaborators worldwide to collectively produce innovative solutions to challenges in four primary sectors: Sustainable Infrastructure, People and Robots, Connected Communities, and Health.

CITRIS at UC Merced addresses California’s most pressing societal and environmental problems by leveraging cutting-edge technologies, incorporating a convergence of the following focuses: Student-Driven Initiatives, Seed Grants & Faculty Research, and Corporate Partnerships.

Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Machines

The NSF CREST Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Machines brings together more than a dozen faculty members from multiple units across campus, including bioengineering, physics, chemistry and chemical biology, materials science and engineering. Researchers are studying how biological matter like proteins or cells come together to perform specific tasks, in hopes of eventually being able to engineer and develop innovations ranging from designer cells and tissue to novel diagnostic and therapeutic devices. The CCBM also hosts an integrated, interdisciplinary training program for graduate students that emphasizes physical and biological components and research and training experiences for undergraduate and high school students to enhance the recruitment of underrepresented groups into STEM research.

sierra nevada research institute

Climate change, water, wildfire, air, soil and water pollution, drought, sustainability, natural resources management and competing land uses — all of these are topics being studied by researchers in the Sierra Nevada Research Institute (SNRI).

SNRI, which was UC Merced’s first established research institute, now has more than 60 affiliated faculty members and researchers examining local, regional and global issues. Part of SNRI’s mission is sharing information, data analysis and research results with policy makers, resource managers and public and private stakeholders to help them make fully informed decisions.

Engineering researchers work closely with colleagues and research groups on campus in other disciplines, including management of complex systems, cognitive science, UC Water, the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and UC Solar. They also work with regional partners such as Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and local, state, and federal agencies, as well as colleagues around the world.


The Merced nAnomaterials Center for Energy and Sensing (MACES) is an exciting NASA-supported research endeavor in which possibilities are as limitless as the universe itself. The center’s faculty and students collaborate with NASA scientists to push the envelope in materials innovation for expanding the possibilities in space exploration and Earthly endeavors.

MACES has established a strong track record in educating and training students by providing more than 200 student fellowship awards while also enabling cutting-edge collaborative research, supporting more than 15 research projects.

NSF Engineering Research Center for the Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture

By 2050, the U.S. population is estimated to grow to 400 million, and the world population to 9.1 billion, requiring a 70 percent increase in global food production. UC Merced is one of four campuses across the country uniting to meet that challenge by harnessing the power of innovation and technology to develop precision agriculture for a sustainable future.

Led by the University of Pennsylvania, UC Merced, Purdue University and the University of Florida received a new, $26 million, five-year National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers (ERC) grant to form the NSF Engineering Research Center for the Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture (IoT4Ag). ERC are NSF’s flagship engineering programs for convergent research to address large-scale societal challenges.

The overall mission of IoT4Ag is to ensure food, energy and water security by developing technology to increase crop production while minimizing the use of energy and water resources and lessening the impact of agricultural practices on the environment.

additional centers

A growing university, UC Merced is home to an increasing roster of research centers delving into a wide array of topics, from nanomaterials and climate communication to better teaching methods and community partnerships.