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Increased research capacity enables DSU to take larger part of NSF grant

College of Education, College of Business and Information Systems, College of Arts and Sciences, Academics, Admissions

A rising research environment at Dakota State is allowing the university to take on greater roles in collaborative research projects.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced a five-year $20 million Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 grant to the South Dakota Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (SD EPSCoR) and the South Dakota Board of Regents.

The project is titled “Beyond the 2020 Vision: Building Research, Education and Innovation Partnerships for South Dakota” and will focus on developing a 2D Biofilm Science and Engineering Center. The six state universities, three tribal colleges, two private universities and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development are involved with the grant. 

Dakota State was involved with a previous NSF grant for a biosciences and commercial biotechnology, BioSNTR, and will be taking on a larger role with this new grant. DSU received approximately 4%, or about $800,000, and will be involved with three projects.

One portion will be an outreach opportunity for undergraduate education majors, who will be preparing six STEM modules for K-12 schools, said Dr. Jennifer Nash, associate professor of science education. She is taking the lead with DSU’s portion of the grant. The modules will align with state standards and relate to the research integrated science and engineering. Other undergraduate students will be taking part with research related to the biofilms focus, she stated.

In addition, the university will open a position for a postdoctoral candidate to study the data analyst; this person will work under the supervision of Dr. Jun Liu, associate professor of Information Systems and coordinator for the Master of Science in Analytics program.

Dr. Jennifer Nash“Giving our students opportunities like this opens doors to STEM career paths in South Dakota that students probably didn’t know existed,” said Nash. The students also will have opportunities to interact with researchers at the other institutions in the state. “It’s good to expose students to those collaboration opportunities,” she stated.

Through this grant, the state wants to see a self-sustaining, collaborative effort that touches as many areas of South Dakota’s science and technology growth plan possible, said Dr. Peter Hoesing, director of Sponsored Programs.  The grant involves three of the four colleges at Dakota State -- Education, Arts & Sciences, and Business and Information Systems, he said.

This increased research capability is a result of the university’s leadership, said Dr. Mark Hawkes, dean of Graduate Studies and professor of Instructional Technology.

“President José-Marie Griffiths has set the stage for Dakota State to have a more robust, more competitive research agenda than we’ve had in previous years,” he said. “By encouraging research, she has built our capacity, which puts us in a position to play a bigger role not just on this project, but many others that are coming forward. This is taking us to new heights.”

The work will begin this fall and will “enable SD EPSCoR to continue to support the collaboration of public, private and tribal colleges and universities, state government and businesses across the state to grow the knowledge economy and develop South Dakota’s workforce needs,” said Project Director Mel Ustad said. More information is available at www.sdepscor.org.