SD EPSCoR Awarded $20 Million Grant

Posted on: September 24, 2019   |   Categories: Announcements, News & Updates


SD EPSCoR Awarded $20 Million Grant

SIOUX FALLS, SD – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a five-year $20 million Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 grant to the South Dakota Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (SD EPSCoR) and the South Dakota Board of Regents. The project is titled, “Beyond the 2020 Vision: Building Research, Education and Innovation Partnerships for South Dakota” and involves the six state universities, three tribal colleges, two private universities and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Building on previous SD EPSCoR projects, the award will bolster South Dakota’s research infrastructure, improve education opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and drive economic and workforce development.

“The project will help South Dakota researchers compete for federal funding, collaborate with South Dakota companies to commercialize innovations and develop the skilled workforce needed to continue to grow South Dakota’s knowledge economy” said Project Director Dr. Mel Ustad. “It will also support enhancing STEM education at all levels and encourage students to pursue technology-based careers.”

The project research focus is on the interaction between 2D atomically thin materials and biofilms

Govind Chilkoor, Ph.D., an SD Mines research scientist, examines a biofilm on a steel sample following its exposure to corrosive bacteria. Dr. Chilkoor is working to find new very thin two-dimensional (2D) coatings that resist microbial corrosion. His research is one component of the newly announced $20 million NSF grant titled “Beyond the 2020 Vision: Building Research, Education and Innovation Partnerships for South Dakota.”

comprised of micro-organisms embedded in a sticky polymer mass. The research will be driven by the creation of a 2D Biofilm Science and Engineering Center. Dr. Robb Winter, a department head/professor in chemical and biological engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SD Mines) will lead a team of researchers from partner institutions to research how 2D materials can be used to control biofilms, which adhere to surfaces and cause corrosion. The research will also look to maximize biofilm assisted nitrogen fixation for plants, which would reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.

“The award will allow additional researchers to be hired, critical scientific equipment to be purchased and support preliminary research to allow researchers to compete for federal research funding and conduct collaborative research with industry,” said Winter.

Dr. Ben Sayler, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Math and Science Education and professor of physical science and mathematics at Black Hills State University will lead the STEM education activities involving all partner institutions to develop new STEM curriculum modules and train K-12 teachers to implement the modules.

“Teacher workshops will be conducted at six locations throughout South Dakota each summer with a goal to support hundreds of K-12 teachers in providing tens of thousands of students with engaging hands on science experiences over five years,” said Sayler.

Additional co-principal investigators on the project include Dr. Venkata Gadhamshetty, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at SD Mines, Carol Lushbough, a research assistant professor in biomedical engineering at the University of South Dakota, and Dr. Senthil Subramanian, an associate professor and graduate coordinator of plant science at South Dakota State University.

“The award will enable SD EPSCoR to continue to support the collaboration of public, private and tribal colleges and universities, state government and businesses across the state to grow the  knowledge economy and develop South Dakota’s workforce needs,” said Ustad.


About SD EPSCoR:

EPSCoR was started by NSF to enhance research competitiveness by strengthening STEM capacity and capability. SD EPSCoR helps build partnerships between K-12, higher education, state government, and the private sector to enrich research, education, and economic development throughout South Dakota. SD EPSCoR is supported by NSF/EPSCoR Award OIA-1849206 and by the State of South Dakota.

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