7 projects awarded grants by state research program

WKU ‘increasingly competitive’ in KY NSF EPSCoR program

In the competitive world of grants, WKU has honed in on a successful strategy for winning coveted research dollars – apply for startup grants close to home. During the last two years, WKU has far exceeded other Kentucky comprehensive universities in both proposal submissions and grants awarded through a statewide research-based granting agency.

As one of 28 states participating in the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), Kentucky offers comprehensive universities like WKU the funding opportunities needed to jumpstart research projects. Often referred to as startup or “seed” funding, state grants provide researchers the foundation to collect data and generate experiments that will ultimately strengthen the science for subsequent larger federal grants.

EPSCoR funding is focused on enhancing research and education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Researchers are invited to apply for funding through five programs: research startup support; research enhancement grant; research scholars program; education, outreach and communications awards; and EPSCoR internships.

“We have become increasingly competitive in the state, and are successfully capturing the dollars needed to build research capacity and engage our students in quality STEM projects here at WKU,” said Cheryl Davis, interim Associate Provost for Research and Creative Activity.

Most recently, WKU submitted 31 of the 53 proposals reviewed by the agency. Of those, seven were awarded to WKU for a total of approximately $191,000. During the prior funding year, WKU submitted 25 competitive grants and received 12 awards for approximately $176,000.

The following WKU faculty members are the most recent KY NSF EPSCoR grant recipients:

  • Yan Cao (Department of Chemistry) for his project titled “Enhancement of Solar Fuel Productivity and Energy Consumption Saving.”
  • Chandrakanth Emani (Department of Biology) for his project titled “Phytoremediation strategy utilizing transgenic stone pine to dispose salt wastewater and crude oil contaminants from oil field sites.”
  • Ali Er (Department of Physics and Astronomy) for his project titled “Pulsed Laser Deposition System at Western Kentucky University.”
  • Jeremy Maddox (Department of Chemistry) for his project titled “Cluster-Weighted Modeling Approach to Potential Energy Surface Fitting.”
  • Hemali Rathnayake (Department of Chemistry) for her project titled “Small Molecular Donor-Acceptor Dyads as Additives for Organic Photovoltaics.”
  • Ajay Srivastava (Department of Biology) for his project titled “A secondary screen for basement membrane degraders in Drosophila.”
  • Rui Zhang (Department of Chemistry) for his project titled “Mechanistic and Synthetic Investigations on the Biomimetic Metal-Catalyzed Sulfoxidations.”

Contact: Office of Research, (270) 745-6733

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Posted with permission from WKU News