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April 19, 2006 :: Grants Will Help State Universities Contribute to National Defense

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Oklahoma is one of a few select states nationwide that will receive multiple research grants as part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR) program, state EPSCoR officials announced recently.

The DEPSCoR program is designed to expand research opportunities in states that have traditionally received less federal funding for university research.

Of the 17 states that competed for the grants, Oklahoma and Vermont were the only ones awarded three grants. All other states will receive two or less.

The University of Oklahoma, Norman, and The University of Tulsa will share $11.5 million with 20 other colleges nationwide for research projects in science and engineering fields important to national defense. A total of 25 projects were awarded DEPSCoR grants, which averaged $460,000.

“It is noteworthy that, over the past two years, seven of 10 DEPSCoR proposals submitted by Oklahoma have been funded by DoD. No other state received more than four awards during that time. This underscores our state’s unique capacity to contribute to the national defense effort,” said Dr. Frank Waxman, director of Oklahoma EPSCoR.

OU researcher Tian-You Yu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, will receive one of OU’s two DEPSCoR grants for his research on the phased array weather radar system. This system, which is one of the candidates to replace current weather radar systems such as NEXRAD, will provide on-scene tactical scale weather forecasts that are needed to optimize military operations. This will directly benefit the Navy's need for on-scene, tactical-scale weather analysis and forecasting.

Deborah Watson, OU professor of physics and astronomy, was also awarded a DEPSCoR grant to further her research in manybody applications to quantum confined systems. This research employs quantum physics to study the behavior of atomic particles. The results may provide unique opportunities to develop ultra-sensitive detectors, remote sensors, secure communication systems and navigational guidance systems.

The DoD also awarded a DEPSCoR grant to Kenneth Roberts, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at TU, for his work in quantum dot nanocrystals. His research will use nanotechnology to develop novel biosensors for the detection of potential bacterial biowarfare agents that cause anthrax, plague and tularemia.

Members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation were pleased that the federal government continues to recognize the state for its leadership and commitment in national defense efforts.

“Projects like these position Oklahoma as a leader in developing the latest technologies and further solidify the integral role the state plays in our national defense," said U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. said, “I am pleased that these Oklahoma universities will receive this important research funding. The Department of Defense made a wise decision in choosing Oklahomans to carry out this significant national defense research and they will not be disappointed.”

The National Science Foundation originally developed the EPSCoR program 24 years ago to expand research opportunities in states that have traditionally received less funding in federal support for university research. It has since been expanded to other federal agencies, including NASA, the National Institutes of Health and the DoD, among others.

Oklahoma EPSCoR is a partnership among colleges and universities, industry and research institutions. Its mission is to make Oklahoma researchers more successful in competing for research funding. Specific goals, objectives and strategies are developed for each federal EPSCoR program, based on federal and state needs.