Montana State University

Montana scientists to focus on large rivers, hydrogen with renewed grant

August 2, 2007 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service

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Tel: (406) 994-4571
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BOZEMAN -- A national program that enhances research in rural states has given Montana scientists another $9 million to continue doing work that is "regionally relevant and nationally significant."

Montana State University officials learned Aug. 1 that the National Science Foundation's EPSCoR program in Montana was renewed for another three years. EPSCoR refers to the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

Researchers in the MSU system, the University of Montana system and seven tribal colleges will share the latest grant, said Mark Young, an MSU researcher who will administer the grant with Chuck Thompson from the UM.

Montana scientists will use the grant to hire new faculty members and students for two main projects, Young said. One project focuses on large river systems and the other on hydrogen. The river researchers will study headwater issues for the Missouri and Columbia river systems to learn more about the human effect on them. The hydrogen researchers want to learn how nature metabolizes hydrogen. They may be able to adapt that knowledge so hydrogen can be used as an alternative fuel.

Montana's grant will also be used to promote science and technology to Montanans, particularly students in kindergarten through 12th grade, Young said.

"We are just thrilled to have it," Young said of the grant that will run through 2010 and represents 30 years of continuous support from EPSCoR.

The new research projects build on past EPSCoR investments in MSU's Thermal Biology Institute, Center for Biofilm Engineering and Center for Bio-Inspired Nanotechnology and UM's Center for Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics,Young said. Montana was one of five states enrolled in EPSCoR when it began in 1980. EPSCoR now supports research in 26 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Montana's program "is an example of great cooperation between the two university systems for the benefit of the whole state," Young added.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu