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UALR researchers win five NASA grants

Submitted by Kyle Troutman on February 5, 2011 – 1:53 pmNo Comment

In the realms of science and research, UALR is reaching for the stars — literally.

University scientists and researchers won five statewide grants in the NASA Research Infrastructure Development (RID) grant competition. The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) staged the competition.

In an effort to link government, higher education and industry, EPSCoR’s goal is to improve a state’s or region’s competitiveness, research infrastructure and research and development capacity.

Each RID grant provided $20,000 a year from NASA, coupled with a matching donation from either the university or the state. Six total research projects are using $40,000 each to compete for the NASA EPSCoR Research Award, which gives two $750,000 grants that are distributed over three years.

“UALR heads up five of the six projects in the state and our applied research programs have become very competitive,” said Keith Hudson, director of the Graduate Institute of Technology.

The projects at UALR range from the study of dark matter, to flying-wing technology for NASA space shuttles.

Hudson said “professors here really look toward this activity and look at NASA-type programs. Our people have open vision and a willingness to move within the realm of what they can work on.”

UALR has a history of competing well in EPSCoR programs. In 2010, UALR was not eligible to compete for the grants because they had too many projects to fairly compete. “We are the most competitive of 16 state schools,” Hudson said.

According to Patrick Pellicane, vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school, UALR’s contributions to the research world are having a positive effect on whole state. “Arkansas is not necessarily known for its research,” Pellicane said. “All our teams at UALR have leaders with Ph.D.s. They just get it together and do it.”

An eight-member technical advisory committee selected the grant winners. Proposals are reviewed for technical merit, how they fit with NASA’s ideas and how successful they are.

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