Oklahoma research team awarded $20M National Science Foundation grant

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STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – A team of more than 30 researchers from across Oklahoma received a new $20 million grant to support interdisciplinary research to benefit the state.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, administered by the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), was awarded to a team of 34 researchers.

During the five-year award, a team of 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 principal investigator for the grant is Dr. Raymond Huhnke, Oklahoma EPSCoR project director and OSU Regents Professor.

“This project is novel in both its design and vision,” Huhnke said. “It is a social science-led, multi-disciplinary collaboration among social, physical, biological, engineering and computational scientists from institutions across the state. The research incorporates perspectives of competing social narratives in order to find answers and practical solutions to weather, water, land and infrastructure issues facing Oklahomans.

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, are the co-lead researchers on the multi-institutional collaborative project

“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 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.”

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