National Science Foundation Grant

Nevada System of Higher Education

System Administration
5550 W. Flamingo Rd., Suite C-1
Las Vegas, Nevada 89103
Tel: (702) 889-8426

For Immediate Release June 1, 2005

Contact: Suzanne Ernst
(702) 889-8426


LAS VEGAS – The Nevada System of Higher Education was just awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grant totaling $13.5 million. The grant is comprised of $9 million in federal funds with a $4.5 million state match provided by the EPSCoR Special Projects Allocation from the state’s general fund.

The grant will be shared by researchers at UNLV, UNR, and DRI and include faculty from the community colleges in researching three major areas of concern to Nevada and its environment.

“This grant is a phenomenal opportunity for Nevada’s researchers,” said Chancellor James E. Rogers. “Not only is it a testament to the caliber of research being conducted by Nevada higher education, it also showcases the power of partnerships. For every dollar the State of Nevada invests in EPSCoR, we receive three dollars in federal funding.”

The first area of research is to investigate hydrological and biological processes that control the movement of water, carbon dioxide, nutrients, metals, and microbes in arid soils. This effort will help researchers understand how changes in plant cover effect water availability and influence the movement and clean-up of contaminants in arid soils.

Another area of research will be to develop devices to sense environmental conditions. The group will focus on sensors for mercury because it is an unusually common contaminant in Nevada; and on harmful biological and chemical materials in the air and water because of concerns related to terrorist attacks on Nevada's high-profile public gathering places.

The third research area will work to develop computer software that can mimic human thought to interpret information about our surroundings and take actions based on that information. This group will focus on security applications using real-time computer interpretation of visual images and environmental sensors; modeling of environmental data; analyzing data from DNA investigations; and design and control of robotic systems.

In addition to the specific research areas, the grant will help develop the next generation of researchers by creating opportunities for university students to participate and prepare for careers in research. High-school students from underrepresented groups will also participate in programs designed to increase their interest in the sciences as well as prepare them for a career in science.

The grant will provide new equipment and enable the hiring of new faculty to fill gaps in Nevada's expertise. By facilitating the interaction between faculty on different campuses and in different disciplines, and focusing the researchers on topics with special relevance to Nevada, the ability to conduct world-class research on topics relevant to Nevada will be greatly enhanced.

The EPSCoR program is designed to help build the scientific research capacity in states that rank in the lower third in receiving federal research funds. It is the goal of EPSCoR programs to build upon a state’s unique resources and existing strengths while fostering interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaborations. Nevada has received three NSF grants since 1985.

The Nevada Board of Regents is the elected, 13-member governing body for the Nevada System of Higher Education. Comprising two doctoral-granting universities, a state college, four comprehensive community colleges and one environmental research institute, the UCCSN serves the educational and job training needs of the nation’s fastest growing state. As Nevada’s only system of higher education, the NSHE provides educational opportunities to more than 100,000 students.