A $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation will fund a collaborative effort among four universities, including Kansas University, to study climate change and renewable energy.
Kansas State University, Wichita State University and Haskell Indian Nations University are also involved in the project.
The effort will also be supported by $4 million in matching funds from KU, Kansas State and the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp.
The five-year award will be given to the Kansas NSF Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), a program in which the NSF gives money to states that receive less than three-quarters of 1 percent of the total amount of NSF funding over a three-year period.
Kristin Bowman-James, KU distinguished professor of chemistry and Kansas EPSCoR director, was scheduled to announce the award Tuesday morning in Manhattan at the program’s statewide conference.
“We’re hoping to have Kansas make an impact on the renewable energy and climate change issues and to become recognized as a leader in this area,” Bowman-James said. “It’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for us.”
The grant funds four major projects, including:
• An effort to use nanotechnology to harness solar energy, led by Judy Wu, university distinguished professor of physics at KU.
• An assessment of how farmers make decisions about which crops to grow, led by Dietrich Earnhart, associate professor of economics at KU.
• A project that will use climate modeling techniques to predict the effects of climate change, led by Chuck Rice, university distinguished professor of agronomy at Kansas State.
• A development of an educational pathway for American Indians to earn doctoral degrees and an exploration of climate change and energy issues on Native American lands, led by Joane Nagel, university distinguished professor of sociology at KU, and Dan Wildcat, acting vice president of academic affairs at Haskell.
Bowman-James said that the wide array of specialties among 64 faculty members in fields from the social sciences to engineering was an exciting part of the project.
“Maybe we can get people to talk to each other and collaborate in these key areas,” she said.
She said KU stands to receive about $8.7 million of the total NSF dollars allocated for the project, in addition to a portion of the matching funds.
Three Kansas-based companies will be involved in the effort: Abengoa Bioenergy, MGP Ingredients and NanoScale. They will join two out-of-state companies, Archer Daniels Midland, based in Decatur, Ill., and Netcrystal, Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif.