Boise State continues to advance its research agenda at a record-setting pace. The university attained $9.9 million in National Science Foundation funding and $1.8 million in funding from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the 2010-2011 academic year — both single-year research records.
NSF award totals jumped 50 percent from the previous year, and NASA funding nearly doubled.
“Our ability to capture National Science Foundation and NASA funding is particularly strong evidence for the quality and relevance of research being undertaken at Boise State University,” said Mark Rudin, vice president for research and economic development. “Our faculty compete for federal grants with faculty from the nation’s most prestigious research universities, and they had a very successful year. We are seeing that success carry forward into this academic year with strong research funding in this first quarter.”
The resulting research projects address needs that are vital to the health and economy of Idaho and beyond. Boise State’s undergraduate and graduate students also continue to reap many benefits from working alongside faculty on research projects. That includes earning salaries that offset the costs of their educations and living expenses. During the past year, 22.5 percent of all student salaries at Boise State were paid from federal and state research awards and from other sponsored projects– more than $2.5 million in total.
These students earn more than a paycheck – they also gain invaluable hands-on experience conducting research with faculty that strengthens their overall education and gives them skills and contacts for future careers. The number of student researchers who receive salaries from sponsored projects also continues to increase, with 543 students receiving these salaries during the past fiscal year.
In addition to new levels of NSF and NASA funding, the university also set a new record for patents issued by the U.S. Patent Office in 2010-11, with seven new technologies and inventions that show promise for commercialization. The university’s patent portfolio could lead to advances ranging from faster and smaller computers and new types of sensors to more effective treatments for cancer.
Here are some research highlights from the 2010-11 academic year:
Jodi Mead, Department of Math, and Inanc Senocak, Department of Mechanical Engineering, $315,000 from the NSF
Bioterrorism has emerged as one of the most significant threats to national security and public health, prompting the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) within the U.S. Department of Defense to invest heavily in research that addresses chemical and biological hazards. Boise State faculty Jodi Mead and Inanc Senocak are conducting some of that research as it relates to reconstructing and simulating hazards once they are detected in the atmosphere. Read more here.
Julia Oxford, Department of Biological Sciences, in collaboration with biology professors Cheryl Jorcyk, Troy Rohn and Kristen Mitchell, $717,000 from NASA
Julia Oxford, director of the Biomolecular Research Center at Boise State, helped discover an important mechanism in the process by which bones build and maintain strength and elasticity. The new knowledge could play a role in improving methods of preserving bone strength with age. That in turn could have a significant impact in treating osteoporosis and other diseases that can lead to decreased bone mineral content, from HIV and epilepsy to juvenile diabetes. Her latest project builds on that study. Read more here.
Dmitri Tenne, Department of Physics, $285,000 from the NSF
Dmitri Tenne sees the world in a way most people never will — outside the spectrum of visible light and on an unimaginably tiny scale. It is the only way he can study a unique family of materials that show great promise in the development of technology in the 21st century. That promise has the attention of the science community and the commercial sector. His work is part of a widespread effort to unlock its potential. Read more here.
Hans-Peter Marshall, Department of Geosciences, $330,000 from NASA
Communities across the world are deeply affected by the “cryosphere” — any part of Earth’s surface where water takes the form of snow and ice. While the annual melt can mean avalanches and floods it also promises water for drinking, irrigating, recreating and generating electricity. Hans-Peter Marshall is on the leading edge of efforts to better understand and estimate the spatial distribution of water stored as snow, which is a critical natural resource. Read more here.
Karen Viskupic and Mark Schmitz, Department of Geosciences, and Ross Perkins and Chareen Snelson, Educational Technology, $150,000 from the NSF
Innovative methods to educate Idaho students about Earth history and geologic time are the focus of this collaborative project. An interdisciplinary project team will design a series of virtual learning activities to teach the science of geochronology. Idaho public school students are introduced to the concept in middle school Earth sciences classes. It will bring the expertise and resources of the university out of the traditional classroom or lab to reach a broader audience through the innovative use of technology. Read more here.
Don Warner, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, $325,000 from the NSF
A cohort of undergraduate researchers studied everything from troublesome bacteria to Internet security at Boise State this summer and were part of Boise State’s first-ever Summer Research Community. Thanks to the NSF grants, the departments of Chemistry and Math both were designated official Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) sites, bringing student researchers from around the country to Boise State and putting the university in the company of the nation’s top research universities. Read more here.
As an emerging metropolitan research university, Boise State is committed to fostering an environment where exceptional research and creative activity thrive. Visit www.boisestate.edu/research/ for more research highlights.