Archive for Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Four Kansas universities to share $20 million to study climate change, renewable energy

October 6, 2009


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.


Paul R Getto 8 years, 6 months ago

"nanotechnology to harness solar energy.." ====== Good. This is going to be huge and, perhaps, a transforming technology. For more information, see and sign up for their daily tech newsletter. Most days there are at least one or two nano stories. ==for an example with agricultural implications: "A sprinkling of nanotubes makes plants shoot up New Scientist Tech Oct. 4, 2009

Tomato seeds planted in growth medium that contained carbon nanotubes germinated sooner and seedlings grew faster, University of Arkansas researchers have found. The nanotubes appear to penetrate the thick seed coat, which would allow water to enter the dry seeds more rapidly...."

devobrun 8 years, 6 months ago

For all those who think that non-profit and non-business interests are purely scientific and for the love of learning, look at the numbers.

$20 million is a pretty good lump of cash. The government-university connection for research is alive and well. The same people who welcome government funding and close support of research are the people who decry the military-industrial complex.

And they are different how?

Insider deals. Cozy relationships. Pet projects. Circular funding (researchers getting money for a while, then going to DC to manage the funding).

What is the nano-technology or climate science equivalent of a $600 toilet seat? Could it be: "American Indians to earn doctoral degrees and an exploration of climate change and energy issues on Native American lands"?

devobrun 8 years, 6 months ago

Doing science, saving lives. One "development of an educational pathway for American Indians" at a time.

overthemoon 8 years, 6 months ago

Well if it weren't for government support of research, we'd none of us be able to have these enlightening discussions on this here know? Would you all have no research funding at all? Does your fear of tax money paying for research mean you prefer to pay the 'fees' charged by the 'free market' corporations to support research to enhance their own profits? You're going to pay for it one way or the other.

As for devobrun. I'd like to say I agree with you. Or perhaps disagree with you. But I can't figure out what point it is you are trying to make!!

Sunny Parker 8 years, 6 months ago

wow...that is a lot of cash....a lot of tax dollars!

Couldn't this money be put to a better use.

Where are the jobs that obamy promised?

RogueThrill 8 years, 6 months ago

Judy Wu is a real asset to the University.

sypeccary 8 years, 6 months ago

How do people in unrelated fields manage to get these grants?

RogueThrill 8 years, 6 months ago

How do people in unrelated fields manage to get these grants?


Because the work collaboratively?

sypeccary 8 years, 6 months ago

Obviously, RogueThrill. But neither person working on the Native American Lands part have a background in science.

RogueThrill 8 years, 6 months ago

Rogue - but is she worth $6,356.62 every two weeks to the hardworking taxpayer of Kansas? Tell me what benefit the average taxpayer will receive from this $20 million.

As I said, if it was for the average guy, this type of expenditure would be called welfare.


The average, hard working guy isn't really on her level. The average, hardworking guy puts a roof on someones house or repairs an alternator and she is applying nano science to solve the problems of tomorrow.

Both are important and one is more expensive.

devobrun 8 years, 6 months ago

My point, overthemoon, is best stated by Eisenhower in his 1961 farewell speech:

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. "

48 and 1/2 years later, we have seen Ike's warning come true at a massive level. Universities are no longer free to pursue independent research. Money flows from the government into the hands of research managers who stoke the machinery that Ike describes. Innovation is scripted. We are the borg. We are the machine. Science is dead. Replaced by evidence and argument. Politics.

devobrun 8 years, 6 months ago

lawrenceguy40: The two projects that won the Nobel prize in physics this year were based on science 100 years old or more.

Fiber optics are built on Maxwell's equations, 1864. A waveguide for light is not new science, it is new technology.

Charge-coupled devices, CCDs, are based upon the description that Einstein gave us of the photo-electric effect in 1905. He won the Nobel prize for it. Again, new technology and not science.

Both technology innovations are about 40 or 50 years old. Marketing has brought these technologies to the public and increased their distribution. Thus, they have become cheaper and so they win the Nobel prize.

Sorry state of affairs for the physics community if you ask me. What, no prize for charming strange attractor multi-dimensional hadron super symmetric black holes?

Here's a guess. In 100 years, no one will win the Nobel prize for technology based upon results of the LHC.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 6 months ago

  1. What method should awardees use to demonstrate that they have created or retained jobs as a result of Recovery Act funding received from NSF?

    Awardees will be required to provide, on a quarterly basis, an estimate of the number of jobs created, and, the number of jobs retained, as a result of the support of Recovery Act projects. At a minimum, this estimate shall include any new positions created and any existing filled positions that were retained to support or carry out Recovery Act projects or activities managed directly by the awardee, and if known, by sub-recipients. Further guidance for reporting this estimate of jobs created and retained will be provided to institutions.

james bush 8 years, 6 months ago

No gubrment $ for schools of social welfare??? .......must be an oversite!

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