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NSF Dollars Go to Boost Rhode Island Jobs

Posted on October 5, 2010

NSF research dollars are boosting science and engineering infrastructure and proliferating Rhode Island jobs.

Seven research projects aimed at deploying the most capable world-class combination of research resources available for the academic community, have received awards from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). Representing a consortium of regional institutions, each award recipient, based in a jurisdiction that has less extensive scientific infrastructures and has historically received fewer federal research dollars, will receive $20 million for five years to bolster science and engineering academic research infrastructure.

“These RII awards provide resources to strengthen the physical, human, and cyber infrastructure that is critical to greater research competitiveness,” said Henry Blount, director of NSF’s EPSCoR program. “They are unique in their state-wide scope and complexity; in their integration of individual researchers, institutions, and organizations; and in their role in developing the diverse, well-prepared, STEM-enabled workforce necessary to sustain research competitiveness and catalyze economic development.”

Structured as cooperative agreements, six states and a commonwealth have received these Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 awards:Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Tennessee, West Virginia and Puerto Rico. Within the descriptions below, the institution leading the research team is indicated in parenthesis.

ARKANSAS (The Arkansas Science and Technology Authority)

This RII-Track-1 award will fund compelling research in Arkansas (AR)¬†with great potential for advancing science and addressing an urgent national need: alternative energy capable of seamless integration into the national power grid. This funding seeks to enhance AR’s scientific research capability by focusing on three areas in renewable power: plant biosynthesis, alternate energy, and nanotechnology in order to develop cost-effective, high efficiency solar cells. The research will be conducted in three existing AR centers: the Center for Plant-Powered Production, the Center for Generating Renewable Energy with Efficient Nanoplasmonic Solar Cells, and the Vertically Integrated Center for Transformative Energy Research.

The project has significant depth in its outreach activities, expanding on the previous RII award by including two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) institutions and two four-year colleges. Numerous secondary school research activities and professional development for teachers and two-year college faculty will be pursued in order to support the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) pipeline. There are tightly woven educational and workforce development activities directly tied to the specific research themes.

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