For Immediate Release 29 June 2000
National Science Foundation Funds Stimulate University Research
BROOKINGSSouth Dakota universities are more successful at winning federal National Science Foundation (NSF) research grants now than they were a decade ago. The NSF supports EPSCoR, the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, a program that helps states to develop their competitive research capacity so that they can win more federal grants.
The South Dakota Board of Regents received a status report on EPSCoR at its regular business meeting on the campus of South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Brookings today. Dr. David Benfield, South Dakota EPSCoR project director, told the Regents that the three Ph.D.-granting state universities participating in the program have obtained nearly $30 million in grants and contracts in FY00. South Dakota universities participating in EPSCoR are SDSU, the University of South Dakota, and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
"For years, most federal grant money has been awarded to states with the capacity to conduct the research. With this grant money, these universities have been able to hire top-notch faculty, purchase state-of-the-art equipment, and offer their students greater educational experiences. This has enabled them to get even more grant money," said Regents President Harvey C. Jewett, IV, Aberdeen. "The philosophy of EPSCoR has been to improve the research infrastructure in states that were receiving few NSF grants. This grant money has had a catalytic effect on other grants and contracts that our universities have been able to win. The $1 to $1.5 million in EPSCoR funding spins off into literally millions of dollars in other grants and contracts, just because we have improved the capacity of our universities to conduct the research."
Benfield told the Regents that when South Dakota joined EPSCoR in 1989 the state was last in the nation in obtaining NSF grants. In six years the state passed four other states in the total amount of NSF funding received. The EPSCoR grants have focused on basic research in support of economies important to South Dakota.
Regent Pat Lebrun said, "University research can drive economic development in a state. Basic research can spin off into new businesses and industries. It was university-based research in California and North Carolina that created those booming high tech economies. Such industries tend to cluster and then reinforce the research environment for all of them. Others can take the result of basic research and apply it. That is what leads to new products for agriculture or new treatments in medicine. This is the reason building research capacity is so important to a state."
Regents Executive Director, Robert T. Tad Perry commended Dr. Benfield for the work done for South Dakota by the EPSCoR scientists. Perry challenged the universities to seek a new level of applications to earn a greater number of grants.
For more information contact, Dr. David Benfield, EPSCoR Project Director, South Dakota State University, (605) 688-6228, or Dr. Robert T. Tad Perry, Executive Director, South Dakota Board of Regents, (605) 773-3455.
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