A West Virginia University research administrator will testify before a congressional subcommittee on Wednesday on the importance of a federal research funding program called EPSCoR.

Mridul Gautam, associate vice president for research and economic development and the Robert C. Byrd Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at WVU, was invited to testify before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Science and Justice about the importance of EPSCoR to the Mountain State.

EPSCoR is the abbreviation for Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. It was created by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1979 in an effort to build capacity in selected states for long-term improvement in science and engineering. Congress was concerned then about the geographical concentration of federal funding for academic research. EPSCoR was the program created to address that concern by making sure capable smaller states had research funding opportunities.

There are currently 27 states, including West Virginia, and two U.S. jurisdictions that have been designated as EPSCoR sites where science, engineering and technology efforts are under way to promote national competitiveness.

Guatam said the success of NSF EPSCoR in the 1980s led Congress to expand the NSF program in the 1990s and early 2000s. EPSCoR-related programs were then created in the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Each EPSCoR state designs and executes its own strategic plans by melding exemplary research, education and economic development initiatives into a statewide approach. Guatam said his testimony will highlight the importance of NSF and NASA EPSCoR funding to WVU and West Virginia.

His testimony will also emphasize the need to provide adequate funding for continuation of the EPSCoR program. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies has funding jurisdiction over EPSCoR for NSF and NASA.

Gautam is an internationally renowned authority on heavy duty engines, emissions and fuels.