Recently, a new website called ‘granttrails’ that enables the public to see where money earned through grants goes each year was released by the University of Connecticut’s Center for Open Research Resources & Equipment (COR2E). UConn receives millions of dollars each year that go to the university and health center to help with research expenditures, however most people never see how these grants end up being spent. With this new website, the university hopes to change that and show the money is spent to benefit the entire state of Connecticut, not just the school.
This website is not only helpful to the public, it is also extremely user-friendly. Instead of listing out every place and purpose that UConn’s grant money goes to, the site expresses the data by placing circles on a map of Connecticut that vary in size and intensity based on the amount of funding that has gone to a specific location. Then, when clicking on one of these dots for more information, the user is given an exact amount of money that helped benefit this specific place in Connecticut. This clever way of displaying the data allows all Connecticut residents the opportunity to easily find out how research done at UConn is affecting them in their communities.
The creation of this software has also been an opportunity for students to show off their skills and get experience in designing websites. While this program was developed by the COR2E group lead by Daniel Schwartz, the project was specifically completed by Brandon Cheng, a fifth-semester student who is the lead developer for UConn Square Labs, a group of undergraduate students who build websites to “support UConn’s research infrastructure.” This website not only helps the university deliver information, it also showcases the immense talent of our students while providing them with the opportunity to hone their skills.
With the future of UConn’s budget currently unknown, projects like this show how important grant-funded research is to this university and state. Granttrails showcases the way UConn’s research trickles down and helps a widespread number of people across the state, thus enforcing that our research is imperative to the improvement of Connecticut. Not only do research projects funded by these grants benefit us in their discoveries, they also benefit the students and faculty that gain valuable experience by taking part in the research process. Granttrails, while still a relatively new website, shows the best of what UConn has to offer from its students, while also allowing others to see what students’ research is doing for you.