K-State Research and Extension News
October 06, 2009
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Kansas Universities to Share in $20 Million NSF Grant Awarded to EPSCoR for Climate Change, Renewable Energy Research

K-State’s Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist to Lead Climate Change Effort


MANHATTAN, Kan. – A $20 million National Science Foundation grant will further establish Kansas as an internationally recognized leader in global climate change and renewable energy research – and will let a Nobel-Prize winning K-State scientist continue his work on the effects of climate change.

“More than being pleased for researchers across the state, I also am excited what this investment by the National Science Foundation will mean for scientists at K-State,” said Kirk Schulz, K-State president. “This grant allows Charles Rice, a university distinguished professor of agronomy, and his fellow researchers to continue their important work on climate change. As K-State continues to make sustainability a campus priority, we are more proud than ever to be involved in a project on global climate change and renewable energy.”

Rice was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

The five-year award to Kansas NSF EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), a statewide program that includes major Kansas research universities, will provide a fresh integrative approach to address climate change and renewable energy challenges.

The grant is a multi-institutional, multi-sector effort that will link four universities: Kansas State University (K-State), the University of Kansas (KU), Wichita State University (WSU) and Haskell Indian Nations University; three Kansas-based companies: Abengoa Bioenergy, MGP Ingredients, and Nanoscale, and two companies outside of the state: ADM (Illinois) and Netcrystals (California) in a massive research effort. The initiative also will be supported by $4 million in matching funds from K-State, KU and Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC).


“This is a tremendous opportunity for the state of Kansas,” said Kristin Bowman-James, principal investigator and project director of Kansas’ EPSCoR program. “With this funding we will be able to harness the talents of researchers across the state to address two major issues of society today -- climate change and renewable energy -- under the umbrella of a single integrated initiative.  We envision that this interdisciplinary research effort, bridging across the natural and social sciences and engineering, will ultimately allow Kansas to be a key leader in research that addresses serious global challenges.”

The Climate Change and Renewable Energy initiative spans a variety of disciplines, with five team leaders. Rice, a University Distinguished Professor of Agronomy at K-State, leads the group that will use climate modeling tactics to predict the effects of climate change and develop strategies for adaptation and mitigation. Dietrich Earnhart, Associate Professor of Economics at KU and colleagues will assess how farmers make decisions about which crops to grow. Judy Wu, University Distinguished Professor of Physics at KU, will explore the high tech use of nanotechnology to harness solar energy with a cadre of scientists and engineers. Dan Wildcat, Director of Haskell Environmental Research Studies (HERS) Center and acting Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Haskell, and Joane Nagel, University Distinguished Professor of Sociology at KU, will work with tribal college students in exploring climate change and energy issues on Native American lands, while developing an educational pathway for Native Americans to earn doctoral degrees.

The part of the project that K-State’s Rice leads – the climate change portion – makes up about $5 million of the $20 million funding.

About 40 scientists are currently involved in the collaborative consortium, representing a vast array of disciplines, including agronomy, anthropology, computer science, economics, geography, mathematics, sociology, engineering, biology, chemistry and physics.

EPSCoR is a federal program that targets states that have traditionally been underfunded in the sciences and engineering. In part, funding comes to EPSCoR jurisdictions through the Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) program, which makes awards on a competitive basis for proposals that are aligned with the State’s science and technology needs.  For more information on NSF EPSCoR see: http://www.nsfepscor.ku.edu/.


Story by:

Jill Giele, EPSCoR Communications Coordinator – jgiele@ku.edu or 785-864-6120
Erinn Barcombe-Peterson, K-State Media Relations – ebarcombe@k-state.edu
Mary Lou Peter, K-State Research and Extension News Media Services – mlpeter@ksu.edu 

K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Mary Lou Peter
K-State Research & Extension News

Kristin Bowman-James, Project Director, Kansas NSF EPSCoR - 785-864-3093 or kbjames@ku.edu; Charles (Chuck) Rice, K-State University Distinguished Professor – 785-532-7217 or cwrice@ksu.edu