Rockefeller and Manchin announce $1 million National Science Foundation grant for hi-tech education infrastructure
U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller and Governor Joe Manchin announced on Aug. 20 that the National Science Foundation has awarded the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission# $1,176,470 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to enhance cyberinfrastructure across the state’s higher education system over the next two years.
“Modern scientific research is essential to our state economy – creating a more valuable educational experience for students now and better prepared professionals for our future,” said Rockefeller, strong supporter of NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. “This grant will create stronger cyberinfrastructure across our state’s campuses and allow our incredible students to conduct more data-intensive and collaborative research. At its core, this is about empowering discovery and opportunity in West Virginia.”
“I truly believe that investments in academic research provide the best return because they allow us to compete,” Manchin said. “This major NSF award complements forward-thinking state programs, like Bucks for Brains, that are guiding our state toward a more innovative future. This is another important step that will give our young people the ability to enter the growing high-tech work force right here in West Virginia.”
Both intra- and inter- campus connectivity, research and education activities will be improved under this grant.
Specifically, West Virginia University will advance its intra-campus cyberinfrastructure to current research standards and Marshall University will work to enable inter-campus Internet2� access for the state’s predominantly undergraduate institutions, community and technical colleges and the K-12 community.
Internet2 is an advanced networking consortium led by the research and education community. Both WVU and MU are participants in the Internet2 network, which connects nearly 70,000 research and educational institutions nationwide and interconnects with 80 international research networks.
“This vital funding will allow Marshall University to establish the mechanisms that will allow our partners and collaborators to strategically position themselves to join us in cutting-edge opportunities not currently available on the commercial Internet,” said Dr. Jan Fox, senior vice president for information technology and chief information officer at MU. “These enhanced capabilities will have particular significance not only for expanding science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, research initiatives and clinical outreach, but also will bring significant economic development opportunities to the region.”
Curt M. Peterson, vice president for research and economic development at WVU and a member of the WV Science and Research Council that oversees the state EPSCoR programs said, “The key reason we do research at WVU is to create opportunities for new jobs and new products that help make peoples’ lives better. This award from NSF will help West Virginia researchers perform that work more effectively, help prepare the next generation of researchers and science leaders, and commercialize results for new jobs more successfully. We are proud and excited to receive this NSF support for those purposes and look forward to the work it will make possible.
The award is part of the NSF’s EPSCoR program, which is directed in West Virginia by the Commission’s Division of Science and Research. Dr. Paul Hill is the Vice Chancellor for Science and Research at the Commission and state EPSCoR director.
“The impact of improved connectivity will reach a broad range of disciplines – from bionanoscience, energy and neuroscience, to astrophysics, cancer therapy and gene mapping,” Hill said. “These are crucial areas of scientific research in West Virginia that require access to advanced, nationally-funded supercomputing resources. This grant will enable that access for a much broader group of researchers across the state, including those at the West Virginia Education, Research and Technology Park in South Charleston.”
This award builds upon a three-year, $2.6 million grant the Commission received last year from the NSF to upgrade networks and enhance immersive visualization capabilities for researchers at WVU, MU and West Virginia State University in collaboration with the University of Arkansas system. That grant is assisting the institutions with connection to high-performance computing networks and resources around the world, allowing researchers to collaborate in real time without geographic limitations. Rockefeller saw a mine safety demonstration earlier this year at Marshall’s Virtual Interactive Simulation Environment (VISE) Lab – which received funding from this earlier grant.
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