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NDSU, UND share $20 million to create research centers

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FARGO – North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota will share $20 million in National Science Foundation funding, much of which will be used to create research centers at the state’s two biggest schools.

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The funds will be used to hire staff and buy equipment to create a Center for Sustainable Materials Science at NDSU, and a Center for Regional Climate Studies at UND.

The grant was awarded to the North Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research or ND EPSCoR.

The money will be distributed over five years.

It will also fund research by undergraduates, graduate students and faculty at schools around the state, including tribal colleges, said EPSCoR co-chairwoman Kelly Rusch.

Rusch, who is also NDSU’s vice president for research and activity, said both universities will have staff working with the centers.

The Center for Sustainable Materials Science will focus on creating products from a sustainable source: agricultural raw materials.

It will have researchers from NDSU’s departments of chemistry and biochemistry, coatings and polymeric materials, mechanical engineering and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, and from UND’s chemistry department.

At UND, the Center for Regional Climate Studies will focus on assessing and predicting climate change impacts on the region’s hydrology (rivers, lakes, streams, etc.) and agricultural production.

That center includes members of UND’s departments of atmospheric science, chemical engineering, counseling psychology and community services, and Earth system science and policy. NDSU departments will include agribusiness and applied economics, civil engineering and computer science.

Barry Milavetz, UND’s interim vice president for research and economic development, said the money will give faculty from the universities the opportunity “to do the work they want to do.”

The grants will also provide research and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) opportunities for students at undergraduate institutions across the state, including tribal colleges, in conjunction with NDSU and UND, Rusch said.

“The opportunities are very expansive,” Rusch said. “The intent is to really build the capacity of the entire state.”

Since 1986, EPSCoR funds have helped recruit more than 200 faculty members to the state, support more than 2,000 students in research and buy more than 460 pieces of research equipment, Rusch said.

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