A new $20 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, administered by the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), will support interdisciplinary research to benefit Oklahoma.

During the five-year award, a team of 34 researchers from Oklahoma State University, University of Oklahoma, University of Tulsa, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Langston University, East Central University and Noble Research Institute will develop and test science-based solutions for complex problems at the intersection of land use, water availability and infrastructure.

“The State Regents are pleased to partner on this grant opportunity,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “This valuable research will help generate solutions to a pressing need, while also encouraging participation in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. The enhanced emphasis on STEM will result in a more educated and diverse scientific workforce for our state.”

The award will be managed by Dr. Raymond Huhnke, Oklahoma EPSCoR project director and OSU Regents Professor. Co-lead researchers on the multi-institutional collaborative project are Drs. Hank Jenkins-Smith and Carol Silva, co-associate directors of the OU National Institute for Risk and Resilience and professors of political science at OU.

“The people of Oklahoma are facing complex problems at the intersection of land use, water availability and infrastructure, and this project aims to answer whether an approach combining atmospheric and land sciences with social science can generate sustainable solutions,” said NSF EPSCoR program officer Chinonye Nnakwe Whitley. “The project also offers the potential to promote STEM education and efforts to broaden the participation of women and underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities in STEM disciplines.”

The grant is expected to provide education and workforce development programming to more than 150,000 Oklahomans of all ages. The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education will provide matching support for this grant.

“The project is unique in that it couples a systematic, ongoing engagement with Oklahoma citizens and opinion leaders with hard science,” explained Dr. Jenkins-Smith. “By working hand-in-hand with our fellow Oklahomans, researchers will utilize alternative solutions that accommodate the pressing needs of citizens, decision-makers and the environment.”