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Majors & Degrees

Grants Advance Research

October 21, 2020

“Research and creative activity are foundational to academic higher learning,” said Dr. Peter Hoesing, director of Sponsored Programs at Dakota State. These efforts “equip our faculty and students to make significant contributions to their communities. More importantly, they stimulate a culture of scientific inquiry and the communication of innovative ideas,” he said.

“DSU supports research and development to ensure that our faculty keep students in touch with relevant literature and leading trends in their respective fields,” Hoesing stated. Research also makes for more effective teaching, he stated.

While much research funding comes from external sources, internal funding is important as well, particularly with faculty who are new to the institution. “We are pleased when we can give newer faculty a boost,” Hoesing said, as they need resources to start and develop research projects. Internal grant programs also set faculty up for success with external opportunities, including conference presentations, publications, and funding partners.

As Dakota State’s graduate and research programs have grown, they have created new internal funding options for faculty.

FRI Grants

The Faculty Research Initiative (FRI) grant program was instituted in 2005. The requirements are simple: the project must tie to a professional development program; the winner must participate in the annual research symposium; and they must submit a final report. This short list gives faculty the flexibility for their field of study and their goals. FRI awardees receive $3,000 individually or $5,000 for collaborative faculty teams. FRI grants can be tied to another funding proposal, either the internal student grant (SRI) or to external programs.

For the 2020-2021 academic year, applications were received from multiple disciplines in three of DSU’s four colleges. The applications undergo a technical review, and a merit review. The three faculty receiving FRI grants include:

  • Dr. Michael Gaylor
    Dr. Michael Gaylor, associate research professor
    Associate Research Professor of Chemistry Dr. Michael Gaylor, College of Arts & Sciences. Project title: “Origins of Life in Prebiotic Planetary Environments.”
  • Dr. James Maloney
    Dr. James Maloney, assistant professor of physics
    Assistant Professor of Physics Dr. James Maloney, College of Arts & Sciences.
    Project title: “Radiation Shielding Studies for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Systems.”
  • Dr Shengjie Xu
    Dr. Shengjie Xu, assistant professor of computer and cyber sciences
    Assistant Professor of Computer and Cyber Sciences Dr. Shengjie Xu, Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences. Project title: “Defending Smart Speakers Against Adversarial Voice Commands.”

Both Maloney and Xu are first-time awardees, and relatively new faculty. Xu is also the director of one of the newest research groups in the Madison Cyber Labs.


The Supporting Talent for Research Trajectories (START) program internal funding program was launched in 2018. This seed fund offers faculty support for preliminary work on research that will result in proposals for externally funded research grants.

Dr. Andrew Sathoff
Dr. Andrew Sathoff, assistant professor of biology

Dr. Andrew Sathoff, assistant professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences was awarded the first START grant. His project, “Improving South Dakota Alfalfa Establishment and Yield Through Characterizing Alfalfa Seed and Root Rot Pathogens,” is part of a new effort to work with a variety of partners in the region, including Mustang Seeds. Sathoff and two student researchers are working to generate crucial data on plant pathogens, characterize them, and support farmers’ efforts to cope with them.

“We look forward to Sathoff’s continuing efforts,” said Hoesing.

Results from these and many other research projects will be featured at the annual research symposium, March 22-26, 2021. Details on the format of the symposium are being developed.

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