COLUMBIA, Mo. - The National Science Foundation has awarded a $20 million grant to fund a five-year, multi-institutional project to study climate variability and its potential agricultural, ecological and social impacts in Missouri. "The Missouri Transect: Climate, Plants and Community" project received funding from the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a program initiated by the U.S. Congress to support fundamental research, education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and workforce development in areas relevant to the economy.
"Missouri's economy is driven by our diverse natural and agricultural ecosystems, which are affected by climate variability," said John Walker, Curators Professor of Biological Sciences and director of the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri and principal investigator of the project. "The Missouri Transect project, which capitalizes on our state's core research strength in the plant sciences, will model and predict short- and long-term changes in climate and determine the impact on these important plant ecosystems, as well as on the communities that rely on them."
The institutions that are participating in the project include all four University of Missouri System campuses--MU, Missouri University of Science and Technology, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and University of Missouri-St. Louis--the Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center, Washington University, Lincoln University, the St. Louis Science Center and St. Louis University. The project will draw on each institution's research expertise in plant sciences, atmospheric and environmental sciences, bioinformatics engineering, social sciences, and or science outreach and education. The project is made up of four interdisciplinary teams in the areas of climate, plant biology, community resilience and education/outreach.
"The collaboration among institutions as well as scientific disciplines will help drive the state's research infrastructure and competitiveness," said Hank Foley, executive vice president for academic affairs, research and economic development with the UM System and senior vice chancellor for research and graduate studies at MU. "It also will provide opportunities to move research from the lab to the marketplace and thus spur innovation and entrepreneurship."
"The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is honored to play a major role in this pivotal endeavor," said James Carrington, president of the Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center. "By combining so much of our state's research capacity and infrastructure in the atmospheric and plant sciences, the Missouri Transect will drive innovation, train a diversified workforce, and catalyze commercial development in areas that are so critical to Missouri's future."
The Missouri Transect will support workforce development in three areas: undergraduate and graduate education; bioinformatics training for women, minorities and people with disabilities; and job training.
"The Missouri Transect provides groundbreaking biotechnology tools for improving crop climate resilience and educating a workforce that understands the effects of climate change on plant adaptation," said Kelvin Chu, program director at the NSF.
The National Science Foundation also provided Research Infrastructure Improvement awards to the U.S. Virgin Islands and four other states. NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2012, its budget was $7.0 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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