North Dakota Researchers at the Frontiers of Science
Infrastructure Improvement Programs
North Dakota universities have attracted outstanding faculty members because of ND EPSCoR New Faculty Start-Up Awards. These awards have supported the principal investigators in successfully obtaining major federal grants. Among these are Kalpana Katti, Peter Meberg, Paul Kucera, and Roxanne Vaughan.
Kalpana Katti, North Dakota State University Assistant
Professor of Civil Engineering, received ND EPSCoR support for
researching nacre, which led to NSF-funded research. Katti is
studying how nacre, the inner layer of seashells, is constructed
so that its structure at the nanoscale level can be used in
the manufacturing of structures that are strong, tough, light
in weight, and damage resistant, such as buildings, aircraft,
battlefield tanks, and prosthetic limbs. Katti also received
a coveted NSF CAREER Award to support her research on bone replacement
Dr. Peter Meberg, University of North Dakota
Assistant Professor of Biology, used his Start-Up Award to purchase
a specialized camera on a microscope to take pictures of neurons
so that he could better understand how neurons grow and connect
with other neurons. He has since received a NSF Career Award
and a NIH Area Grant to support his research. With the Career
Award, he is incorporating his research methods into the curriculum
at UND. Meberg also has obtained ND EPSCoR Advanced Undergraduate
Research Awards (AURA) to support students who work in his lab.
In the picture on the right, Meberg watches research associate
Paul Kucera, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sciences,
said that his Start-Up Award was a "big incentive" for him to
come to the University of North Dakota. With this award, he
obtained computer equipment and software critical to his research.
Since then, he has obtained two NASA grants and used the equipment
to process Polarimetric radar data. This research will help
meteorologists to better understand the internal characteristics
of storms such as the distribution and movement of raindrops,
snow, and hail within the clouds. This research could significantly
improve climate prediction models of the atmosphere and improve
rainfall estimation which is critical for the management of
water resources. The U.S. network of Doppler weather radars
are expected to be upgraded to incorporate polarimetric technology
in the next 10-15 years.
Roxanne Vaughan, Associate Professor of Biochemistry,
was attracted to the University of North Dakota because of the
Start-Up Award, "impressive facilities" at the UND Medical School,
clean North Dakota air, and "family-oriented" community. Her
Start-Up Award enabled her to publish continuously and to obtain
external grants. Through her study of a dopamine transporter,
Vaughan hopes to discover how the body controls the level of
dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a substance that affects
feelings of well-being and motor action. Results of her research
could help combat drug addiction.
Science Outreach and Recruitment Programs
Tom Gonnella, Mayville State University (MSU) Assistant
Professor of Chemistry/Physics, has worked with Dakota Technologies,
Inc. through the ND-EPSCoR Faculty in Technology Transfer (FITT)
program to develop novel fluorescence methods. Through ND EPSCoR's
BRIN program, Gonella will initiate an undergraduate research
program where students will apply the technology being developed
at DTI. They will assess the extent to which they can resolve
complex mixtures of fluorescently labeled species in order to
improve the accuracy and efficiency in DNA sequencing.
Brian Slator, North Dakota Sate University Computer
Science Professor, received a ND EPSCoR Seed Grant to help launch
his interactive, educational software-development career. Slator
uses a field-trip approach in his software programs that provide
students with exciting role-based learning experiences. Game
titles include Virtual Cell World, Dollar Bay, and Geology Explorer.
With Geology Explorer, students collect virtual data and perform
virtual experiments. Given his success with seed grant funds,
Dr. Slator and his colleagues successfully competed for a $1.94M
grant from the National Science Foundation to continue instructional
G. Padmanabhan, North Dakota State University Chair
and Professor of Civil Engineering, Dr. Robert Pieri, NDSU Professor
of Mechanical Engineering, and Dr. Carol Davis, Vice President
of Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC) have collaborated
on an initiative to increase Native American participation in
science, engineering, and mathematics (SEM). The ND EPSCoR Faculty
Laboratory and Innovative Teaching Enhancement (FLITE) program
supports the initiative through workshops for tribal college
faculty and students on new and innovative SEM topics and purchase
of equipment and supplies that remained at the tribal colleges.
Curriculum development also is being enhanced by new videoconferencing
capabilities supported by ND EPSCoR's Biomedical
Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN).
Victoria Gelling obtained a ND EPSCoR Advanced Undergraduate
Research Award (AURA) to support her work with University of
North Dakota Chemistry Professor Irina Smoliakova. After earning
a BS in Chemistry, Gelling completed her doctoral work in Chemistry
at North Dakota State University (NDSU). After earning her PhD,
she was able to stay and live in Fargo because she was hired
as a Senior Research Associate by the NDSU Department of Polymers
and Coatings. In this position, she conducts research with a
group of faculty whose aim is to develop coatings that prevent
corrosion of artwork, aircraft, vehicles, and transportation
infrastructure, such as bridges.
Brackel, a senior majoring in Geology at the University
of North Dakota, received a ND EPSCoR Advanced Undergraduate
Research Award (AURA) that enabled him to map the surface of
Mars. Using previously unanalyzed National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) data, he discovered promising spaceship
landing sites where energy resources might be found below the
surface of the planet.
|Nicole Very: "I made the decision to attend North Dakota State University because I was offered a research position through the ND EPSCoR Science Bound program. Without this program, I would not have stayed in North Dakota for college. Because of my undergraduate research experience, I am now pursuing a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology."|
Technology Transfer and Commercialization Programs
Dakota State University Chemistry Professor, Dr. Greg
Gillispie, used ND EPSCoR funds to assemble advanced
laser equipment and to support graduate students and postdoctoral
researchers. This funding allowed him to conduct research in
new areas, particularly the real-time measurement of chemical
information via laser-induced fluorescence. Gillispie and his
former graduate student, Randy St. Germain, established Dakota
Technologies, Inc. (DTI) in Fargo, in 1993, to accelerate commercialization
of the laser technology. DTI's workforce has since grown to
17 employees. The company has been awarded more than $8 million
in research contracts and has commercialized several products
and environmental services.
worldwide may someday obtain more effective vaccinations for
diseases because of research work done by Michael
Chambers. As an ND EPSCoR Advanced Undergraduate
Research Awards (AURA) program participant, Chambers worked
with NDSU biotechnology faculty on DNA-immunization. He continued
work on the potential uses of DNA vaccines with ND EPSCoR
Commercialization Seed Funds and then established and is CEO
of Aldevron, a biotechnology company located in Fargo.
Student and Faculty Technology Transfer Programs
North Dakota businesses are encouraged to increase their research and development of new products because of ND EPSCoR's Students in Technology Transfer and Research (STTAR) and Faculty in Technology Transfer (FITT) programs.
Students in Technology Transfer Program (STTAR)
Robert Smette, an Industrial Technology senior was paid to find solutions to science and technology problems identified by North Dakota manufacturing company, PS Doors, in Grand Forks. Smette prepared a working model of an electric gate that raises and lowers automatically that Smette designed and built. Among other projects, Smette designed a flood shield for the steam tunnels at North Dakota State University.
Johnson, a senior majoring in Food and Nutrition
at North Dakota State University, received an award from the
ND EPSCoR Students in Technology Transfer and Research (STTAR)
program. These funds allowed her to work during the summer
with the Institute of Business and Industry Development testing
ingredients and final products from thirty food processors
or restaurants in the state.
Faculty in Technology Transfer Program (FITT)
|Dr. Selmer Moen, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Minot State University received ND EPSCoR Faculty In Technology Transfer (FITT) grants to assist Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing in their development of aircraft test flight circuit boards.|