AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University researchers have so far won 19 grants worth a total of $7.7 million from federal agencies awarding money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The grants range from $2 million for a study of a bio-engineering technology that could produce biological hydrocarbons for biofuels to $600,000 for a study of cell membranes to $51,710 for a study of how the Ebola virus can inhibit a body’s antiviral response. Fifteen of the grants are from the National Science Foundation and four are from the National Institutes of Health.
“These competitive grants are another example of Iowa State researchers leveraging the university’s strengths in science and technology,” said Sharron Quisenberry, Iowa State’s vice president for research and economic development. “These grants will allow Iowa State researchers to build their research programs, work with more students and advance their projects. The ultimate benefit will be to advance our knowledge and, ultimately, to provide for the well-being of people in Iowa as we build a better future.”
The recovery and reinvestment act provided the National Institutes of Health with $8.2 billion and the National Science Foundation with $3 billion to help stimulate the country’s economy by supporting scientific research.
Arden L. Bement Jr., the director of the National Science Foundation, said the funding is “sorely needed to ensure that America remains a leader in science and engineering research and education.”
Emily Smith, an Iowa State assistant professor of chemistry, agrees the stimulus funding can help build America’s scientific expertise.
She said research grants – even for highly rated proposals – have been hard to come by, especially for junior faculty. And that makes it difficult to advance projects, build careers and prepare the next generation of science leaders.
The stimulus funding allowed the National Science Foundation to award Smith a five-year, $600,000 CAREER award. The foundation’s CAREER awards are designed to boost the careers of junior faculty.
Smith will use the award to advance her studies of cell membranes. She’s working to understand how the molecules that make up cell membranes organize and interact with each other. These measurements are needed to understand how cells receive information from their environment and respond to outside signals.
The award will also allow Smith to hire two graduate students for each of the grant’s five years.
“It’s important for the research agencies to support young faculty,” Smith said. “It allows young faculty to move up the ranks and become established researchers. This helps young faculty grow.”
Here are Iowa State’s other grants and lead researchers supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
● $2,059,528 from the National Science Foundation’s Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation program to Jackie Shanks, a professor of chemical and biological engineering; Basil Nikolau, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology and deputy director of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals; and Thomas Bobik, a professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, to develop a technology that uses a biocatalyst to produce biologically generated hydrocarbons that can be used for biofuels.
● $563,501 from the National Institutes of Health to Bobik to study the molecular principles and develop an understanding of certain virus-sized subcellular structures called bacterial microcompartments.
● $476,449 from the National Science Foundation to Abhijit Chandra, a professor of mechanical engineering, and Ashraf Bastawros, an associate professor of aerospace engineering, to develop a multi-scale and multi-physics model to test Chemical Mechanical Planarization in a nano-scale manufacturing process for integrated circuits.
● $475,000 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation to Eric Cochran, an assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, to develop a new class of polymer composites.
● $455,862 from the National Science Foundation to Bill Gallus, professor of geological and atmospheric sciences, to improve forecasts of rain from large groups of warm season thunderstorms.
● $384,000 from the National Science Foundation to Jacob Petrich, professor and chair of chemistry, to upgrade Iowa State’s Mass Spectrometry Laboratory by purchasing a new instrument.
● $366,399 from the National Science Foundation to Randall Geiger, Richardson Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Degang Chen, associate professor in electrical and computer engineering, to develop on-chip temperature and current sensors to improve computer performance and reliability.
● $342,817 from the National Institutes of Health to Donald Sakaguchi, a professor of genetics, development and cell biology, to study the use of genetically modified stem cell transplants to reduce visual loss from glaucoma.
● $300,000 from the National Science Foundation to Mufit Akinc, a professor of materials science and engineering, to study how the viscosity of nano powder suspensions varies with saccharides and the mechanism of the variance.
● $299,419 from the National Science Foundation to Neal Iverson, professor of geological and atmospheric sciences, to study how seismic measurements at the surface of a glacier correspond to glacial movement.
● $266,048 from the National Science Foundation to Xinwei Wang, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, to develop a laser-assisted technique to measure the thermal characteristics of ceramic nanowires.
● $248,901 from the National Science Foundation to Robyn Lutz, professor of computer science, to create techniques that improve the reliability of software product lines.
● $200,558 from the National Science Foundation to Patrick Schnable, professor of agronomy and associate director of the Plant Sciences Institute, to study genome evolution in natural populations of polyploid organisms.
● $193,008 from the National Institutes of Health to W. Allen Miller, professor of plant pathology and director of the Center for Plant Responses to Environmental Stresses, to study how some viruses use a unique mechanism to avoid host defenses and take over the host’s protein synthesis machinery.
● $174,993 from the National Science Foundation to Maria Axenovich, an associate professor of mathematics, to use discrete mathematics to manipulate large amounts of information, benefitting computer science and biological studies.
● $169,982 from the National Science Foundation to Dan Nordman, an assistant professor of statistics, to develop efficient and accurate statistical methods for dependent data.
● $99,913 from the National Science Foundation to Jeramy Ashlock, an assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, to develop methods to describe how the piles of building foundations interact with soil under dynamic loads and earthquakes, and to increase the accuracy of computer simulations of the interactions.
● $51,710 from the National Institutes of Health to Daisy Leung, an assistant scientist for the department of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology, to study how Ebola viral proteins allow it to rapidly replicate and inhibit a body’s antiviral response.