ND EPSCoR Results

North Dakota is increasing its research competitiveness for merit-based grants and contracts from federal, regional, and private sources. 

  • From 2007-2013, ND’s academic research expenditures increased 28%, from $171M to $219M.
  • The NSF State Science & Engineering Profile shows that ND’s ranking for academic R&D rose from 45th in 2007 to 41st in 2013 .
  • Science and Engineering Graduate Students by State increased 34.1%.
  • Sources: ncsesdata.nsf.gov/herd/2013/html/Herd2013_DST_63.html

    ND EPSCoR activities support research, STEM education and diversity, and technology transfer programs that create economic value, jobs, and societal benefits.  From 1986-2014, North Dakota has invested $50.1M in ND EPSCoR; the cash return has been $276M in merit-based research awards.

    Since the inception of ND EPSCoR, the program has:

  • Contributed to the recruitment of >275 new faculty researchers to the state
  • Supported >2,060 graduate and undergraduate students
  • Produced 2,476 publications
  • Invested in >47 new pieces of research equipment
  • Generated >35 patents and licenses
  • Provided STEM education and research opportunities to an average of 244 tribal high school and college students annually
  • Enhanced  S&T opportunities for >100 companies and awarded an average >17 student positions each summer through the STTAR    (Students in Technology Transfer and Research) program
  • Contributed to establishment of new high-technology businesses

  • Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII)

    2014-2019 NSF Track-1 Award

    A National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track 1 grant was awarded ND EPSCoR in 2014. The grant is for $20M over the five years entitled INSPIRE-ND (Innovative and Strategic Program Initiatives for Research and Education-ND. Program goals Include innovative research focused on bio-based materials and climate change; Strategic integration of research, STEM education and outreach through EMPOWERED-ND to serve the entire State. EMPOWERED (EMerging PrOgrams for WorkforcE Development OutReach, Education and Diversity-North Dakota).  INSPIRE-ND has a five strategic foci: 1) Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS); 2) Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS); 3) Diversity; 4) Education and Workforce Development; and 5) Partnerships, Collaborations and Communication. Cyberinfrastructure (CI) is embedded throughout each of the five strategic goals.


    Both CRCS and CSMS centers established and refined operations; assembled information for reporting requirements and IRB compliance materials; and cultivated existing relationships with tribal colleges during the first nine months. Solicitations for seed awards to all four ND primarily undergraduate institutions resulted in funding 7 researchers.




    2008-2014 NSF Track-1 Award
    ND EPSCoR was awarded a six year $16.5 M Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track 1 grant from the  National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2008.  In addition, the State of North Dakota has invested $20.45M during this award period.

    Leveraged together, this funding has in the last six years:
    (1) en­hanced research infrastructure;
    (2) provided funding to increase faculty capacity and competitiveness;
    (3) expanded cyber-enabled communication, discovery and innovation;
    (4) broadened and diversified the STEM pipeline; and,
    (5) initiated university-private sector partnerships to convert research results into opportunities for ND residents. Its intellectual merit lies in the establishment of durable, competitive research infrastructure with a primary focus on renewable energy and materials.

    Research Infrastructure Improvement Accomplishments


    The SUNRISE (Sustainable ENergy Research Infrastructure and Supporting Education) and SMS (Sustainable Materials Science) groups, supported by the RII Track 1 grant, have collectively received $35M in external awards. Over 30 faculty have been involved with the research programs and two new faculty positions were added. Results include: 161 publications, 5 patents, and 6 invention disclosures. Student training included participation of 26 undergraduates, 56 graduate students, and 10 postdocs.


    Faculty Capacity and Competitiveness

    Infrastructure investments led to hiring of new faculty and postdoctoral students, expanded support for junior researchers, including mentoring, workshops, seed funding, faculty start-up support, and increased support of graduate research.  A direct result was increased faculty capacity and competitiveness and improved faculty retention. Seventy-One (71) new faculty in more than 20 STEM departments received awards totaling >$6M in 2008-14. The retention rate of new faculty hires is approximately 90 percent.


    Cyberconnectivity has been enhanced. The deployment of 10 Gbps connections to buildings anddesktops and single mode fiber optic cable to 30 campus buildings at NDSU provided the capability to connect tothe network core at computational research speeds.  Visualization capabilities were also added.  Track 1 also enabled ND EPSCoR and four of the state's Tribal Colleges -- Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CC), Fort Berthold CC, Turtle Mountain CC, and United Tribes Technical College - to submit and receive a $1M NSF Cyberconnectivity (C2) award, entitled Cyberconnectivity: Enhancing North Dakota Tribal College Research and Education, to improve network infrastructure at the tribal colleges. CI upgrades support for over 2,000 students with an emphasis on video conferencing, extended workforce development opportunities and fuller integration of research, education, and diversity initiatives with the colleges.

    Education, Outreach, and Diversity

    Two programs serve to broaden participation, increase diversity, and engage the state's major underrepresented groups in ND, Native Americans and women, in the STEM enterprise. The first, developed with EPSCoR support, is the Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education (NATURE), a multifaceted program that has greatly increased the involvement of our five TCs in STEM education and research. An average of 244 students participate in these programs annually. Student participation in NATURE has increased from the first year of the award to 2012. The second is Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), a program that provides supplemental funding to women faculty for lab upgrades and additional research staff. 

    Technology Transfer and Commercialization

    University-Private Sector Partnerships

    ND EPSCoR’s goals include increasing private sector partnerships, new product research, and creating technology-based start-up companies. SUNRISE averaged 12 private partnerships yearly, had 14 new product investigations, and produced 1 new start-up.  The SUNRISE team developed new crop oil based jet fuels with gel characteristics suitable for high altitude, low temperature conditions; and the SMS team has patents pending for new families of nylons from sunflower oil with exceptional thermal properties. Seed funding for Product Design Center projects led to the development of decorative coatings, the basis of a ND startup company, Elinor Coatings, in ND. Similar funding led to scale-up technology for a semiconductor material that is now licensed to Nippon Shokubai to manufacture the material for the Asian market.

    Students in Technology Transfer And Research (STTAR)

    The STTAR program provides upper-division students (i.e., juniors through graduate students) in science, engineering, and mathematics with an opportunity to use their academic training and experience to address the most challenging science and technology-based problems faced by North Dakota companies. The primary emphasis of STTAR is on research and development.

    ND EPSCoR established the STTAR program in 1994 in response to recognized state and national needs for increased technology transfer from universities to industry. Since that time, over 99 North Dakota companies from across the state have participated in this highly successful program. Over 100 students were able to gain hands-on experience through salaried positions on STEM projects with the STTAR companies.