NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Program: Track-1

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the state of North Dakota its most recent Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) award – Innovative and Strategic Program Initiatives for Research and Education-North Dakota (INSPIRE-ND) -- in August 2014. It provides $20 million over five years (2014-2019) to strengthen the State’s research capacity. 

The key research infrastructure components include:

  •   - two major research initiatives: Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS) and the Center for Sustainable MaterialsScience (CSMS);
  •   - a series of programs to improve our ability to hire and retain outstanding faculty by supplementing start-up and retention packages;
  •   - programs to increase faculty competitiveness via workshops on grant writing and project management, competitions for grants using an   - external merit review process, travel awards to international and national conferences, and visits to agency Program Directors;
  •   - funds for collaborative research projects – including the state’s TCs and PUIs;
  •   - a plan to enhance the cyberinfrastructure at the research universities and other colleges in the NDUS;
  •   - a comprehensive set of programs designed to broaden participation of North Dakotans, particularly Native Americans, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities and careers,
  •   - and programs that will continue to generate strong partnerships with the private sector.


Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS)



CRCS diagram



Strategic Priority: North Dakota, recognized as a major sustainable supplier of food crops and biofeedstocks, seeks to continue and advance that ranking through an increased understanding of regional climate patterns.



  •   - Develop and apply an integrated modeling approach to project the impact of climate variations on the agricultural economy of the Northern Great Plains (NGP).
  •   - Build CRCS into a high functioning, interdisciplinary, sustainable regional climate and education center that includes utilization of cyberinfrastructure (CI).


Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS)



CSMS diagram














Strategic Priority: North Dakota seeks to advance new discoveries of new bio-based, sustainable materials that give more consideration to the environment and contribute to its economy through their sourcing (low cost, renewable), durable lifetimes (long, high durability), and recyclability (efficient, high value).



  •   - Develop and launch a transformative approach to the development of sustainable materials derived from agricultural materials as a means to replace petrochemical polymeric materials in day-to-day use.

  - Build CSMS into a high functioning interdisciplinary, sustainable research team that includes new faculty hires, acquisition of state of the art analytical equipment and utilization of cyberinfrastructure (CI) for the purpose of efficiently processing data, quickly analyzing results, and securely transmitting data between groups.


NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program: Track-2

The National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research awarded $6 million to North Dakota EPSCoR and South Dakota EPSCoR for North Dakota State University, the University of North Dakota, South Dakota State University and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology to establish DakotaBioCon. The Research Infrastructure and Improvement Track 2 grant spans three years.

The primary goal of DakotaBioCon is to establish a multi-state, multi-institution, multi-disciplinary research collaboration that will produce economically viable renewable replacements for existing petrochemicals. The research collaborators use lignin as a starting raw material. Lignin binds cellulose fibers in wood and plants. It is among the most renewable carbon sources on the planet. DakotaBioCon and focuses on processing lignin into renewable chemical and polymeric alternatives to petrochemicals.

DakotaBioCon will leverage its relationships with existing programs and centers such as UND/NDSU’s Sustainable Energy Research Initiative and Supporting Education (SUNRISE) program, the SDSU-based SunGrant Initiative, and the SDSMT/SDSU-based Center for Bioprocessing Research and Development (CBRD) to achieve its objectives.