With a $4 million infusion to Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, Science Foundation Arizona's is taking a step towards meeting its goal of making Arizona more competitive in scientific, engineering and medical research, said William Harris, president of the nonprofit organization.
"We're creating an almost-level playing ground for our public universities with respect to the best private universities in the United States," said Harris.
Arizona State University is getting $1.85 million. Another $1.7 million is going to the University of Arizona, with $400,000 for Northern Arizona University. How the money will be allocated depends on the program.
Andrew Comrie, dean of the graduate college at the University of Arizona, said his school's share should finance 35 new students.
"This kind of award, if you set it up right, can make not only the science that the student can do here good, but also, of course, the financial package they can get," Comrie said.
The grant will fund very specialized areas of study: advanced communications and information technology, biosciences and "sustainable systems" including water.