A History of SD EPSCoR

1980: The National Science Foundation established the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). The program was designed to help facilitate grants to geographical areas that historically do not receive substantial amounts of federal R&D funds.


1985: South Dakota was unsuccessful in applying for funding until receiving a $75,000 NSF Planning Grant. A site visit by NSF personnel improved South Dakota’s EPSCoR visibility and resulted in a crucial interview between NSF Deputy Director Donald Langenberg and incoming Governor George Mickelson.


1986: A committee was formed to oversee EPSCoR activities in South Dakota. The REACH (Research Excellence: A Critical Hallmark) Committee was incorporated with Dr. Aelred Kurtenbach as its Chair.


1988: Governor Mickelson established the South Dakota Future Fund to help build teaching and research capacities in science and engineering at state universities. The funds were a source of state matching funds for NSF awards.


1989: South Dakota applied for and received a $1,811,466 award from NSF, which was matched by the Governor’s Office through the Future Fund. Dr. Kenneth Han served as Project Director, with SDSM&T the host institution.


1992: South Dakota applied for the NSF EPSCoR Advanced Development Program competition. The proposal was funded as a $10 million project over a 3-year period. NSF awarded $3,850,000 in funds, and the Future Fund matched $3.3 million, with institutions providing $3.4 million in new positions, graduate stipends and waived indirect costs. USD served as host institution with Dr. Royce Engstrom as Project Director.


1993: South Dakota was awarded $156,165 to host the Ninth Annual National EPSCoR Conference in Rapid City, bringing national visibility to the state’s EPSCoR program.


1995: South Dakota received the Systemic Improvement Plan award for $4.5 million for 3 years for renewal of the NSF EPSCoR program. This was matched by an equal amount from the Future Fund and further commitments by SDSU, USD, and SDSM&T. Dr. Royce Engstrom remained as Project Director.


1997: South Dakota received EPSCoR funding of $181,498 for a program to foster the development of SBIR businesses in South Dakota. Dr. Mel Ustad, DSU, was the Project Director on the award.


1998: South Dakota received a 3 year, $3 million EPSCoR Cooperative Agreement from the NSF. Matching funds of $3.4 million came from the Regent’s Reinvestment Funds and institutional dollars from SDSM&T, SDSU, and USD. Dr. David Benfield from SDSU assumed the role of Project Director.


2000: A supplemental award to the NSF EPSCoR Cooperative Agreement for $72,434 was received to support an American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) review of research and development in South Dakota.

An NSF EPSCoR Competitive Proposal Development Initiative (CPDI) grant of $168,285 was awarded to Dr. Royce Engstrom, USD. The project provided technical assistance support to participating states in NSF’s EPSCoR.

Dr. Stan May, USD, received an NSF EPSCoR standard award for $498,626 to implement the development of a South Dakota Photodynamics Research Program.


2001: South Dakota EPSCoR received a 3-year, $9 million South Dakota Rushmore Initiative for Excellence in Research award, with Dr. James A. Rice, SDSU, as Project Director. Matching funds of $4.5 million came from the awarded institutions and the state of South Dakota.

Dr. Royce Engstrom, USD, received an NSF EPSCoR Centers Development Initiative (CDI) award for a total of $1,913,836. The goal of the project was to increase the participation and competitiveness of EPSCoR researchers in centers grants programs funded by the NSF.


2005: A supplemental award to the Rushmore Initiative for Excellence in Research for $307,237 was received to continue activities in the RII proposal.

South Dakota was awarded an NSF EPSCoR Planning Grant for $208,494 to fund activities designed to address the competitive research challenges facing South Dakota. Dr. James A. Rice was the project director.


2006: South Dakota applied for and was awarded a $6.75 million NSF Research Infrastructure Improvement grant, “The 2010 Initiative: Science-Based Leadership for South Dakota.” Led by James A. Rice, the award helped strengthen the state’s research in Photo Active Nanoscale Systems (PANS). This award also provided significant investments into institutional infrastructure improvements at Sinte Gleska University, a tribal university. The state of South Dakota and the research universities involved in the award committed $2.7 million in funds to support the project goals.


2009: A supplemental award for $542,143 was received from NSF EPSCoR to help bridge the gap in funding from the end of the previous award to the beginning of the new RII award. This brought the total for the award to $7,292,143 in NSF funding, in addition to the state support.

With Dr. James A. Rice as Project Director, South Dakota received a new 5-year NSF EPSCoR RII award for $20,000,000, with state matching funds of $4.4 million. The new proposal, “Beyond the 2010 Initiative: Partnerships for Competitiveness,” includes South Dakota State University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Black Hills State University, Augustana College, Dakota State University, Oglala Lakota College, Sinte Gleska University, and Sisseton Wahpeton College. In addition there are programs with SD GOED and the SD Dept. of Education that have been funded.


2010: South Dakota EPSCoR received a $1,176,470 two year award after submitting an EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Inter-Campus and Intra-Campus Cyber Connectivity (RII C2) proposal. The project was entitled “Partnerships for Competitiveness: Cyber-enabling Primarily Undergraduate Institutions.” The project involves all three tribal colleges in SD (Oglala Lakota College, Sinte Gleska University, and Sisseton Wahpeton College) and Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD.


2013: Partnering with North Dakota EPSCoR, South Dakota EPSCoR submitted a NSF EPSCoR RII Track 2 proposal for $6,000,000 titled “Collaborative Research: Dakota Bioprocessing Consortium (DakotaBioCon)” that was funded. Each state was awarded $3,000,000 over three years. South Dakota State University, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, North Dakota State University, and the University of North Dakota are collaborators on the project.


2014: SD EPSCoR submitted and was awarded a 5 year NSF EPSCoR RII Track 1 award for $20,000,000 titled “The 2020 Vision: Building Research, Education, and Innovation Partnerships for South Dakota.” In addition, the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the South Dakota Board of Regents through the Research and Commercialization Council (RCC) awarded $11,809,150 to support the Biochemical Spatiotemporal NeTwork Resource (BioSNTR) Center. Matching funds of $4,000,000 for the SD EPSCoR award will come from the BioSNTR state funds.

Dr. James A. Rice is the Project Director for the EPSCoR RII award. Dr. Adam Hoppe, South Dakota State University, leads the BioSNTR research project, which includes the University of South Dakota, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Black Hills State University, Augustana College, Dakota State University, Northern State University, Dakota Wesleyan University, and Mt. Marty College. Sanford Research and Avera are also participants. The award funds STEM programs and research capacity development at the three tribal colleges: Oglala Lakota College, Sinte Gleska University, and Sisseton Wahpeton College. In addition economic development and workforce development partnerships with SD BOR, SD GOED and the SD Dept. of Education have been funded.