This award will fund the acquisition of a variable-pressure scanning electron microscope (SEM) for our new Imaging and Microscopy Facility (IMF) at the University of California, Merced (UCM), the tenth campus of the UC system and the first new UC campus in nearly 35 years. The academic program at UCM emphasizes interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary training in the thematic areas of environmental science and engineering, materials science and engineering, and quantitative and systems biology. Scanning electron microscopy serves as a basic research tool for the characterization of solids in a wide variety of studies in environmental, materials, and biological sciences. A versatile SEM will immediately address the research and education needs of a majority of the science and engineering faculty already on-board at UCM. We anticipate significant growth of our user base over the grant period as UCM opens for students and expands its faculty. We anticipate that this instrumentation will meet basic research and teaching infrastructure needs in microscopy for the next 5-10 years, will assist in recruiting the best new faculty to our university and, because of the visual nature of microscopy, contribute greatly to outreach efforts to K-14 and the community. A mission of UCM is to serve the rapidly growing population of the San Joaquin Valley, which is dominantly Hispanic, has a high immigrant and first-generation population, and is historically underrepresented in higher education. We envision this SEM and the IMF as a nascent centralized user facility that will be a key factor in supporting the teaching and research mission of UCM across science and engineering, and a driver for our growth into a mature research university.