NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program: Track-1


The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the state of North Dakota its most recent Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) award -- North Dakota: Research Infrastructure and Partnerships for Discovery -- in September 2008. It provides $16.5 million over six years (2009-2014) to strengthen the State’s research capacity.  The key research infrastructure components include:


Undergraduate student Collin Giusti levels a mounting plate for a GPS antennae attached to a boulder in Ong Valley, Antarctica. The GPS antennae will measure movement of the boulder after 1 year has passed.Undergraduate student Collin Giusti levels a mounting plate for a GPS antennae attached to a boulder in Ong Valley, Antarctica. The GPS antennae will measure movement of the boulder after 1 year has passed.

  • two major research initiatives, one in renewable energy (SUNRISE), the other in sustainable materials science (SMS);
  • a series of programs to improve our ability to hire and retain outstanding chairs and 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 projects that establish relationships with other universities including those in other countries;
  • 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.

  • SUNRISE


    The Sustainable Energy Research Infrastructure and Supporting Education research elucidates fundamental aspects of heterogeneous catalysis, especially at the nanoscale, that are relevant to developing alternative transportation fuels and chemical feedstocks.


    SMS


    The Sustainable Materials Science initiative addresses the application of materials science to sustainability.  An interdiscliplinary team of researchers focuses on several main research themes: (1) Synthesis of organic materials and composites from renewable resources; (2) Novel approaches to solar energy conversion devices; and (3) Use of computational methods to accelerate the development of novel energy conversion devices.


    An emerging ND EPSCoR program in regional climate studies will develop a comprehensive set of interrelated simulation suites to address climate change and weather-related phenomena with a focus on the Northern Great Plains (NGP).  Because of the region’s strong agricultural sector, the interrelationships of atmo­spheric conditions, hydrological changes and agricultural effects will be central.  The studies will address the relation of changes in physical conditions to agricultural economics and decision-making. 



    NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program: Track-2


    c2renew corp. has licensed a process methodology from the NDSU Research Foundation for creating biocomposite materials that reinforce and strengthen plastics. Using biomass and a technical process developed by Dr. Chad Ulven, c2renew provides a biocomposite material that is a greener alternative to purely petroleum-based platic products at a lower cost than traditional plastics,w ithout sacrificing critical performance metrics.c2renew corp. has licensed a process methodology from the NDSU Research Foundation for creating biocomposite materials that reinforce and strengthen plastics. Using biomass and a technical process developed by Dr. Chad Ulven, c2renew provides a biocomposite material that is a greener alternative to purely petroleum-based plastic products at a lower cost than traditional plastics, without sacrificing critical performance metrics. 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 DakotaBioConis to establish a multi-state, multi-institution, multi-disciplinary research collaboration that will produce economically viable renewable replacements for existing petrochemicals. The research collaborators will 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. DakotaBioConwill focus 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.



    Cyberinfrastructure


    In 2011, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded North Dakota EPSCoR an RII: Inter-Campus and Intra-Campus Cyber Connectivity award (C2) – Cyberconnectivity:  Enhancing North Dakota Tribal College Research and Education.


    The purpose of the grant was to implement upgrades to the cyberinfrastructure of participating North Dakota tribal colleges, including Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Fort Berthold Community College (FBCC), Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC), and United Tribes Technical College (UTTC).


    The ND C2 Consortium, comprised of the four tribal colleges noted above, North Dakota State University (NDSU), and the University of North Dakota (UND), serves faculty, students and the surrounding community elevating opportunities for economic, intellectual, and workforce development activities.


    The infrastructure facilitates sharing of instructional and research resources between the ND C2 consortium members, improves the Tribal Colleges’ ability to network with various organizations, encourages engagement of students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) community, and contributes to workforce development by advancing job skills of students and other community members.