Welcome to the Kansas NSF EPSCoR (KNE) news and announcements blog. Stay up-to-date with all the happenings, discoveries, events and funding opportunities associated with KNE. Enter your email in the "Follow by email" box below an to the right to stay notified of new posts. Feel free to leave comments.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity in AMO Physics

The Kansas NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant provides support for three Kansas undergraduate students to conduct Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics research at Kansas State University during the summer of 2016. Students who are accepted into the program will receive a $5,200 stipend and have both travel expenses as well as on-campus room and board covered.

Students interested in the chemistry and/or physics associated with Atomic, Molecular and Optical Phyics should apply through this link:

K-State AMO Physics Summer 2016 REU
(only online applications are accepted)

For more information go to: https://www.phys.ksu.edu/images/reu/flyer.pdf .

Education and outreach funding for this REU opportunity is provided by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant #1430519 titled: "Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures."  The grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

EPSCoR Interjurisdictional Collaborative Funding Opportunity: FY 2016 RII Track-2 FEC

    The National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is currently offering a collaborative funding opportunity within its RII Track-2 FEC grant program initiative. The RII Track-2 FEC grants are designed to build interjurisdictional collaborative teams of EPSCoR investigators in scientific focus areas consistent with NSF priorities. Projects are investigator-driven, have at least one co-PI and must include researchers from at least two RII-eligible jurisdictions.  Proposals must describe a comprehensive and integrated vision to drive discovery and build sustainable Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) capacity.  The education activities should seek to broaden participation of different types of individuals, institutions, and sectors. In addition, the development and support of diverse early-career faculty is critical to the sustainability of STEM capacity. Only one proposal can be submitted for a project.  Separately submitted collaborative proposals are not allowed.

Researchers interested in participating in the FY 2016 RII Track-2 FEC process are invited to submit proposals on two topics: 
      1. Understanding the Brain; and 
      2. Sustainable Food, Energy, and Water Systems.

      Letter of Intent Deadline Date:  January 11, 2016
      Full Proposal Deadline Date:  February 4, 2016

For more information go to: 
EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program: Track-2 Focused EPSCoR Collaborations (RII Track-2 FEC)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hispanic Students Explore Fiber Optics and the Internet at the 9th Annual Si Se Puede Hacer Ciencias y Matimaticas Program

Dr. Trallero conducting a demonstration
   Dr. Carlos Trallero, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at Kansas State University (KSU) traveled to Emporia State University (ESU) on Halloween to work with some of the more than 50 Hispanic middle school students attending ESU’s 9th Annual Si Se Puede Hacer Ciencias y Matimaticas Program. The purpose of the Si Se Puede Hacer Ciencias y Matimaticas Saturday event was to allow students to interact with Hispanic professionals who work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. This year’s program featured four hands-on workshops taught in a small group settting. Dr. Betsy Yanik, Professor of Mathematics and Si Se Puede Hacer Ciencias y Matimaticas Director at ESU created the Saturday workshop opportunity to spark STEM interest among participants and address the country’s need for more graduates from underrepresented groups to pursue degrees and careers in STEM fields.
    In Trallero's workshop, he posed the question "How does the internet work?" After a brief discussion, students observed demonstrations illustrating how fiber optics actually work. Trallero commented, "the students enjoyed seeing how light is bended as it transmits through fiber optics, the backbone of the internet." To provide some additional one on one instructional assistance, Trallero invited Kansas native and first generation KSU Physics student Jaime Minjarez to join him.  Following the demonstrations, Trallero and Minjarez fielded questions as students discovered how to build a motor with just copper wire, a battery and a magnet.

Students building motors
   Trallero and Minjarez considered the experience both fun and rewarding, and they plan to participate in the program again next year.

The Kansas EPSCoR office supported the visit of Professor Carlos A. Trallero and student Jaime Minjarez of the Physics Department and the James R. Macdonald Laboratory at Kansas State University through the outreach program of a Kansas-Nebraska EPSCoR Track II grant.

Friday, November 6, 2015

EPSCoR EOD Grant Provides Kansas Teachers with "STEM Education Through Sustainable Energy" Curriculum Modules

     Dr. Deepak Gupta, Associate Professor and Director of Engineering Technology at Wichita State University (WSU), used his 2014 Kansas NSF EPSCoR Education, Outreach and Diversity Grant to create the "STEM Education Through Sustainable Energy" teaching modules. Gupta’s team at WSU worked with educators from the surrounding school districts to develop lessons incorporating the Next Generation Science Standards .

     The three main goals of the project were: to create modular sustainable energy systems curriculum in conjunction with feedback from area educators on the curriculum; to train area educators on how to use the curriculum; and  to present portions of the curriculum to secondary students for additional feedback. One of many highlights of this effort was the collaboration established between educators at area schools and at WSU.  Another highlight was the involvement of WSU students in presenting the new curriculum to area high school teachers and in mentoring middle school students in the area.

     Overall this educational outreach effort impacted 100 middle school students from Andover Middle School; 15 middle school Math and Science teachers from across the Wichita Independent School District; and 12 educators and 10 students from the Maize High School in Maize, KS. In addition, the new curriculum modules were discussed with 5 faculty, 2 administrators and 15 pre-engineering students from Hutchinson Community College and Butler Community College as well as with two administrators from the Kansas Center for Career and Technical Education (KCCTE) at Pittsburg State University.
The following teaching modules were created as part of this project:
  • Introduction to Energy – 3 modules
  • Forms of Energy – 1 module
  • Energy Transformations – 1 module
  • Sources of Energy – 1 module
  • Energy Sustainability – 2 modules
  • Energy Efficiency – 2 modules
  • Solar Energy – 2 modules
  • Solar Photovoltaics – 2 modules
      Links to the the entire set of "STEM Education Through Sustainable Energy" Curriculum can be found on the WSU Engineering Technology website. 

     In the near future the curriculum group plans to make the teaching modules available on the Resource Library page on the Pittsburg State’s Kansas Center for Career and Technical Education (KCCTE) website.

Kansas NSF EPSCoR Education and Diversity Grants focus on encouraging the next generation of Kansas student to consider STEM careers in the areas of climate or energy research or atomic, molecular and optical science and are designed to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Kansas.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Kansas, Nebraska "Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures" NSF Track 2 Grant supports collaborative outreach to small college faculty

Dr. Hui Zhao and Dr. Benjamin Tayo
       A unique partnership has formed between, Dr. Benjamin O. Tayo Assistant Professor of Physics at Pittsburg State University and Dr. Hui Zhao, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas as part of the educational outreach initiatives funded by the NSF EPSCoR grant titled "Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures", #1430519.  This educational initiative provides funding support for a small college physics faculty member to work closely with one of the key researchers on the grant project. Their educational plan involves collaborating on research, co-authoring any publications that may result from their research and developing related curriculum to enhance Pittsburg State’s physics curriculum.
Dr. Zhao conducting experiments in his lab
     Their research focuses on the theoretical studies of the electronic and optical properties of two-dimensional crystals. In particular, Tayo has been working on modeling the properties of the W1-xMoxS2 alloy as a function of the composition x. He surmised "that being able to characterize the electronic properties of this alloy for composition x could possibly lead to advanced functional materials with properties superior to that of the individual materials MoS2 and WS2."  Zhao added, “We are performing experiments to be compared with the model. This will help understand electronic states in these alloys. Such knowledge contributes to the goal of controlling electrons in these materials with light.” Furthermore, he emphasized “this collaborative research clearly aligns with the emphasis for the Thrust 2 research effort of the grant directed at two-dimensional materials.” Zhao will perform experimental studies as part of their proposed research activities. Tayo will provide theoretical and numerical capabilities to improve the understanding of these properties that will enhance the impact of the collaborative work.  They both hope “to find new ways of controlling the electronic and optical properties of 2D materials” using theoretical calculations to explain and complement the experimental findings. From this collaborative research project, they hope to use their data tested theories in future studies and experiments.
        Students have also benefited from this collaborative initiative.  Each professor has had the opportunity to involve a graduate student in the project. Tayo’s graduate student worked with him throughout the summer, and although his graduate student found the research a little challenging, it has sparked his interest in the field.  As a result, Tayo's graduate student enrolled in a topics class titled “Density Functional Theory” to improve his understanding of electronic and optical  physics.  With this enhancement of his knowledge base, he can then start performing some calculations for the experiments.  Zhao is also supporting a graduate student who is performing the related experiments
     Tayo summarized the experience so far by saying:
I am grateful that by means of this collaboration, I was really busy last summer carrying out research. The knowledge gain so far has helped me a lot and it’s very useful for the students as I incorporate some of the knowledge into my teaching. I would strongly recommend the program to my colleagues because being active in research really enhances the depth of your knowledge and makes you to become a better teacher.
     And Zhao added:
The goals were to involve faculty members from small colleges in cutting edge research that would eventually transfer benefits to their students. The theory-experimental collaboration model is a perfect way to accomplish this since it doesn’t require facilities from the small college partner.
     Tayo and Zhao will continue their collaboration throughout the remainder of the academic school year.

The  Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures, #1430519  Track 2 Grant is designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Kansas and Nebraska present a Symposium on Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures

     Over 100 university faculty and students attended the 2015 Nebraska Research & Innovation Conference Symposium on Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules & Nanostructures held September 28-29, 2015 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The symposium was sponsored by both the Kansas NSF EPSCoR and the Nebraska NSF EPSCoR programs.
Program speakers and participants
     The seminar featured guest presentations by Dr. Mark I. Stockman, Georgia State University, who discussed Condensed Matter in Ultrafast and Superstrong Fields: Attosecond PhenomenaDr. Anatoly Svidzinsky, Texas A&M University, who discussed QASER: From Radio Frequencies to Optical DomainDr. Philip H. Bucksbaum, Stanford University, who discussed Ultrafast Electron Motion in Atoms and Molecules;  Dr. Stephen Leone, University of California, Berkeley, who discussed Attosecond Dynamics: From Atoms to Semiconductor Solids; and Dr. Todd Martinez, Stanford University, who discussed Understanding and Modeling Ultrafast Molecular Dynamics from First Principles.
Dr. Martin Centurion; Dr.Vinod Kumarappan; Dr. Hui Zhao
      The speaker sessions closed with three presentations from the Kansas and Nebraska researchers currently involved in the collaborative NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant (#1430519) titled Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures.  Dr. Martin Centurion, represented the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and discussed Diffractive Imaging of Isolated Molecules with Femtosecond Electron Pulses.  Dr. Vinod Kumarappan represented Kansas State University and discussed Diffractive Imaging of Isolated Molecules with Femtosecond Electron Pulses.   And, Dr. Hui Zhao represented the University of Kansas and discussed Ultrafast Electron Transport In and Between Single Atomic Layers.
Symposium Poster Session
     The day concluded with over 30 undergraduate and graduate students, post docs and faculty from across Kansas and Nebraska participating in the poster session that showcased their research in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

KU Geography PhD Candidate and HERS Alum featured in the Spring 2015 Edition of "Winds of Change"

Winds of Change Spring 2015
     David Ward published an article in the spring 2015 issue of the  Winds of Change titled “Doing Something About The Weather: The forecast is calling for growth in climate-related careers.”  In the article, he discussed the surge of public awareness regarding climate change and the career opportunities it is producing. Ward also highlighted several students' learning experiences within these new interdisciplinary climate change academic programs that are developing at universities across the United States. Ward found most programs were very receptive to collaborating with other disciplines and concluded this cross curricular approach was better preparing students to enter the climate change workforce.  In addition, he discovered a growing trend that many of these climate-related programs were very interested in working directly with tribal communities or with Native American students researching how changing weather patterns are impacting Indian Country.
Winds of Change, Spring 2015
      Paulette Blanchard, Absentee Shawnee and alum of the Kansas EPSCoR educational collaboration with the Haskell Environmental Research Studies initiative (HERS), was one of the students featured in the article. She credits her interest in climate change and the environment to the HERS summer internship experience she had while attending Haskell Indian Nation University as an undergraduate.
      Following her undergraduate career, Blanchard completed a master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma studying at the South Central Climate Science Center. Her research focused on how climate and geography were impacting tribes across several states.  She found that tribes were aware of climate change because it impacted them personally, socially and economically.  However, she was not sure if they were trying to combat it as much as trying to survive it.  She commented that the “challenge was there were 63 tribes in the area and three fourths of them are…not situated in areas that can provide economic stability.” Furthermore, she mentioned that many of the communities were struggling to find sources of quality water, to build energy-efficient homes or invest solar powered systems.
     Blanchard supports the interdisciplinary approach to a climate change education because it addresses the many aspects of the tribal communities' concerns and prepares students to work with them.  She recognized the importance for any one working with these communities to understand the social and cultural dynamics, the history, the economics and the politics of the community that is being supported and that “cultural competency was a must.”

Paulette is currently pursuing her PhD in the Department of Geography at the University of Kansas.  

HERS provides the platform for various stages of support for programs of interest to American Indian/Alaska native communities, most recently focused on the effects of climate change on indigenous communities.  

Friday, October 2, 2015

Teachers Explore Improving Climate Education at Fort Hays State University

Dr. Paul Adams instructing teachers
     This fall, Kansas school districts statewide are in the process of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).   However, as Dr. Paul Adams, Dean of the College of Education, Anschutz Professor of Education and Professor of Physics at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) commented, “while the vision advocated by the NGSS is a significant step to improving science education in the country, the knowledge and skills necessary to implement this vision lags behind.” So Adams, using his 2015 Kansas NSF EPSCoR Education and Diversity Grant Award, designed a secondary science teacher summer program to address some of these content and teaching strategy limitations.  His five day teacher workshop titled: Improving Climate Education through Field Observations and Data Analysis, had three specific goals:
  • to provide Kansas science teachers the opportunity to enhance their content knowledge; 
  • to discuss teaching strategies associated with the new NGSS curriculum requirements; and 
  • to explore resources that could support their lessons planning as it related to climate and weather.  
So on July 6, 2015, twelve high school and middle school science teachers from across the state of Kansas met at FHSU to work with Adams and to learn more about teaching climate and climate change within the scope of the NGSS curriculum guidelines.
Science teachers collecting data
    The workshop's hands-on activities featured using infrared thermometers and sun photometers as well as researching clouds, precipitation, relative humidity and biomass. In addition, participants were introduced to the worldwide science and education program, GLOBEGlobe Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment. GLOBE served as an excellent resource for studying climate observation protocols; exploring tested climate and climate change teaching strategies; and learning how to use data to develop scientific arguments that aligned with the NGSS science and engineering practices. Teachers were also exposed to databases and database analysis tools in MY NASA DATA. This site created opportunities for the learner to develop strategies for arguing from evidence.
      During the workshop, teachers also learned how to define a study site, how to do field studies and how to use technology tools to help students reach NGSS performance expectations. At the end of the workshop, teachers used GLOBE data to produce NGSS lessons and to create course specific NGSS implementation plans incorporating GLOBE-based learning activities. These implementation plans will be made available to teachers across the state at the www.fhsu.edu/smei website.
      This climate workshop was so successful that there is a plan to re-run it as a short course at the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science meeting on Hydrology. There is also interest in doing an elementary science teacher GLOBE workshop and grants are being considered to fund these programs for the future.

The 2015 Kansas NSF EPSCoR Education and Diversity Grants are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of climate or energy research or atomic/molecular/optical science.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Emporia State University collaborates with Flint Hills Technical School to "Energize" Students in the rural Flint Hills region of Kansas

Students creating battery circuits
      “Energizing Students” was another successful program funded by a Kansas NSF EPSCoR Education and Diversity grant awarded to Dr. Betsy Yanik, the Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at Emporia State University (ESU). Over last spring and this summer, she partnered with faculty at Flint Hills Technical College (FHTC) to create a series of fun, interactive STEM activities specifically targeting the Hispanic youth in the Flint Hills region of Kansas. The main components of the program were two “STEM Day” Saturday workshops, April 4th at ESU and May 8th at FHTC, and a five day summer day camp, June 13-18th, offered jointly by ESU and FHTC.
Students taking measurements
      The Saturday celebrations of "STEM Day" consisted of energy science themed interactive exercises. At the ESU "STEM Day" event on April 4, 2015, eighteen middle school students participated in four hands-on sessions: Induction and the Physics of Motors, Energize your Problem Solving, What is Energy? and Mathematical Modeling.  On the May 8, 2015 "STEM Day" at FHTC, over 300 eighth grade students rotated through 10 learning stations sponsored by the STEM related programs and courses offered at the Technical College.   During the summer camp held at locations on both campuses, sixteen middle school students participated in seminars featuring heat transfer projects, fluid flow activities, electromagnetic induction, small windmill generator construction, analysis of data using a graphing calculator and solar energy ventures. Participants were also invited to tour the WESTAR natural gas plant and the Wolf Creek Nuclear Corporation.
Students in an instructional session and visiting WESTAR Natural Gas.
      The objectives of the program as a whole were to increase Hispanic students’ interest in science and mathematics; to foster awareness of career opportunities in mathematics and science-related fields; and provide Hispanic students with an opportunity to meet and form personal contacts with professionals working in mathematics and science-related careers.  The expected learning outcomes that students to see the value of looking at situations using quantitative skills and scientific inquiry was achieved. All three programs combined to reach 354 middle school students in the Flint Hills area of Kansas of which approximately 45% of the participants were classified as underrepresented minorities.
      Although the program created a great collaborative effort for both the Flint Hills Technical College and Emporia State University, future funding will determine whether or not the program can continue.  As for now, there are plans to possibly incorporate some of the Get Into Energy activities into the already established ESU summer STEM camp for Hispanic students which has enough other funding to continue.

Kansas NSF EPSCoR Education and Diversity Grants focus on encouraging the next generation of Kansas student to consider STEM careers in the areas of climate or energy research or atomic, molecular and optical science and are designed to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Kansas. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

NSF Awards a Kansas And South Carolina Research Collaboration Four Million Dollars

Credit: University of Kansas Center for Research Inc.
     An interstate research partnership between Kansas and South Carolina has received a four million dollar NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement RII Track-2 Award. The research project, titled Catalysis for Renewables: Applications, Fundamentals and Technologies (CRAFT), was one of the eight interstate grants that NSF funded this fall.
     The project's interdisciplinary focus is to develop novel catalysts by combining materials synthesis with structure property relationships. Researchers will explore the fundamental catalytic mechanisms that impact the controlled reconstruction of biomass feedstocks to make renewable chemicals, fuels, plastics and other targeted products.  Specifically, they will address the challenge, "How do you reconstruct naturally occurring liginin, [a complex organic polymer found in plants], to make petrochemical-equivalent chemicals instead of burning it?”
     Bala Subramaniam, the director of the University of Kansas Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (CEBC) and the Dan F. Servey Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering is the lead researcher from Kansas, and John Regalbuto, a professor in the University of South Carolina's Department of Chemical Engineering, is the lead research from South Carolina.
     In addition to the cutting edge science, the grant provides unique educational and collaborative initiatives such as a mentoring program for young, early career professors; the development of a student engaging curriculum at both universities; and, the establishment of across-disciplines and industry partnerships.

To read more about this NSF EPSCoR Award go to:  New NSF grant gives early-career faculty competitive edge 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"Fun in the Sun" with KU and Project CREATE

Project CREATE facilitator Kathy Bowen and Professor Kevin Leonard address the campers
          The Kansas NSF EPSCoR Education and Diversity Grants are designed to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Kansas by supporting activities that will prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of climate or energy research or atomic, molecular and optical science. Last August, Kevin Leonard, assistant professor in chemical and petroleum engineering, was awarded one of five Kansas NSF EPSCoR Education, Outreach and Diversity grants to develop a 3D printer-based solar energy camp for children.  The program titled  Fun in the Sun: Using Solar Fuel Research to Educate, Challenge and Inspire Future Scientists! involves a partnership with Project CREATE, a local non-profit community group.  Project CREATE focuses on "Cultivating Responsible, Enriched, Artistic, Tech-Savvy Enthusiasts," in STEM camps for gifted students in grades 4 - 7. The camp was held June 15 -19 and hosted 43 elementary and middle school students.
        Leonard and his colleague Claudia Bode, Education Director for the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis at KU, worked with Project CREATE educators to develop activities for the camp.  Their main goals were to inspire students, in particular girls, to see themselves as scientists and engineers; to encourage student exploration of the potential uses of 3D scanners and printers; and 3) to expose the students to STEM related careers. 
The 3D printed add-ons and solar car
       All hands-on activities were energy-themed and addressed the conversion of solar energy to chemical energy through the use of custom-built devices, robotics and 3D technologies. The first task for the students was to build solar cars from preprinted 3D pieces and commercial kits. Then, they designed and 3D printed their own add-on items using an online modeling program. Once the cars were complete, the students tested the variations of engineering designs for efficiency.
        A unique feature of the camp was a new 3D printed miniature dynamometer apparatus that was created with the help of Ed Atchison, engineering technician at CBEC.  The children used the “mini dyno” to measure the speed, temperature, voltage and current of their creations, and then used the results to brainstorm ideas for modifying the cars to improve performance.
        Students reported that they enjoyed building the solar cars, visiting labs, using the modeling program and going on field trips. One participant stated “I liked the freedom you have (in free time); They (leaders) embraced our ideas and we got to do a lot of cool things….” The 3D printing was also a major program highlight expressed by all of the students. Overall, the camp was deemed a fun and educational success and the organizers hope to offer it again next summer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

KANSAS NSF EPSCoR Phase VI - First Awards - A Research Program for Tenure Track Faculty Early in their Careers

Kansas NSF EPSCoR has announced a request for proposals for First Awards.

Download and read the full RFP at : http://www.nsfepscor.ku.edu/pdf/RFP-FirstAwards_2016.pdf

The First Award Research Program is designed to help early career faculty become competitive for funding from the research directorates at the National Science Foundation (NSF) by: 1) encouraging early career faculty to submit proposals to the NSF (or other federal funding agency) as soon as possible after their first faculty appointment, and 2) by accelerating the pace of their research and the quality of their subsequent proposals.  Kansas NSF EPSCoR helps Kansas build its research capacity and competitiveness in science and technology.

Only projects with research in areas that are related to the current Kansas NSF EPSCoR initiatives of Climate or Energy Research (http://www.nsfepscor.ku.edu/ph6.html) or Atomic, Molecular and Optical Science (http://www.nsfepscor.ku.edu/rii_t2_2014.html) are eligible for First Awards. Other eligibility requirements apply so please read the RFP carefully.

Submission Deadlines:

  • Letters of Intent Due by 5:00 pm on TUESDAY, September 8, 2015.        
  • Proposals Due by 5:00 pm on MONDAY, October 26, 2015

New series of videos address growing water issues in Kansas

     Kansas Natural Resource Council (KNRC) and the Biofuels and Climate Change: Farmer’s Land Use Decisions (BACC-FLUD) project have teamed up to produce a series of videos telling the story of water in Kansas from border to border.  Each film discusses the history of how the various water sources have been utilized in the past; how the present day competing interests are affecting water supplies and how community efforts or failures to manage water sources will impact the future. The videos are unique because they feature interviews with people from across Kansas. The Kansans featured in the film tell their personal accounts of how they are directly effected by groundwater, surface water, reservoirs or rivers.  
     The intention of the series is to facilitate a community conversation about Kansans' relationship with water using personal narratives. While the initial project has only produced three videos so far, the ultimate goal is to produce multiple short films, ten to twenty minutes long, that continue to address how water has been used to build and sustain Kansas and what needs to be done to preserve it for the future.  
     The completed films and detailed descriptions can be found on the Kansas Natural Resource Council’s website and are titled Cheyenne Bottoms, Farming over the Ogallala, and Our Shrinking Reservoirs.  The videos were produced by Christie Scanlin Dobson of StormDoor Productions.

The BACC: FLUD (Biofuels and Climate Change: Farmer’s Land Use Decisions) project is embedded within a much larger research project examining climate change and renewable energy, which represents Phase VI of the Kansas NSF EPSCoR (KNE) program. The National Science Foundation (NSF) established the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) as a way to promote scientific progress in states that have traditionally received lesser amounts of NSF research and development funding.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Fort Hays State University student explores Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics at Kansas State University

     Brett Chrisler found his way to a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) by first exploring the aspects of computer science and graphic design.  He tried these two majors before he discovered the Physics Department “and fell in love with the field.”
Brett Chrisler
     Brett is from Hays, Kansas where he has lived his entire life.  He completed his sophomore year at Fort Hays State University last spring; serves as the secretary for the Fort Hays State University's Physics Club; and has just completed a summer REU in Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Physics at Kansas State University (KSU).
     His interest in pursuing an AMO Physics REU began when the Physics Department at Fort Hayes State distributed information from the KSU AMO Physics group about summer REUs to their students. Brett had never done any research in physics prior to this summer's REU, so he thought this program would be the best mechanism for “discovering what part of the wide field of physics he would be most interested in.”
     Brett worked with Dr. Vinod Kumarappan, Associate Professor of Physics at KSU and a researcher involved with the Nebraska and Kansas NSF EPSCoR Track 2 grant titled "Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures." Brett's project, funded by the educational initiatives embedded in the collaborative grant, involved stabilizing "the carrier-envelope phase from a laser oscillator.” Basically, the experiment “involved the alignment of a laser through optics.”
Brett Chrisler and Dr.Vinod Kumarappan conducting experiments in the James R. Macdonald AMO Physics Lab at Kansas State University
    Two valuable lessons Brett stated he learned from his AMO REU were: first, "research doesn't always go the way you want it to"; and second, “you have to be creative when it comes to solving difficult problems that may arise.”  In addition, to these lessons learned, Brett said he also developed some “amazing friendships that I know will last beyond this program.”  When asked to sum up his summer AMO Physics REU, Brett indicated that he has “gained so much knowledge from Dr. Kumarappan's group and the program’s physics lectures as well as made great social connections that “have bettered me not only as a student, but also as a person."
      As for his future, Brett says he has two more years of undergraduate work to complete and hopes to continue to participate in physics related summer internships at other institutions as well as additional research experiences at his home campus.  Following graduation, he may attend graduate school to study medical physics and then possibly go on to medical school to study radiation oncology.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

REU student explores the Chemistry associated with Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics at The University of Kansas

Ryan Hamelin
     Ryan Hamelin, an undergraduate student from Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, traveled to the University of Kansas (KU) this summer to work with Dr. Chris Elles and his team on a Chemistry REU project titled “Non-Resonant Excitation of Photochromic Molecules in the Plasmonic Field of Gold Nanoparticles.” This KU REU summer project is part of a larger educational initiative sponsored by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF ESPSCoR AMO collaborative grant titled “Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures.” The purpose of Ryan’s project was to study “how the plasmonic field of gold nanoparticles can be used to induce a non-resonant excitation of photochromic molecules."
     Ryan's research journey began the first semester of his sophomore year.  After completing a lab, his general Chemistry professor saw potential in Ryan and invited him to participate in a research project outside of the classroom.  Ryan was quick to accept this opportunity because becoming a scientific researcher was something he has always aspired to do.  The following semester, Ryan continued to work with Dr. Steven Fiedler at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts on a research project titled “The Permeation of Nanoparticles Through a Lipid Bilayer"
     Dr. Fiedler recognized Ryan’s passion for conducting scientific research so he recommended he apply for Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Programs.  Ryan began his search for an REU on Google and the Kansas opportunity “just caught his eye.”  Ryan applied for five different opportunities across the United States, but Kansas was the first to make him an offer, "so naturally he accepted."

Dr. Elles and his Summer REU Team; Ryan conducting his research
     Ryan commented that this “REU program has just been great for me, … I've made a lot of friends…. and I learned a lot about "photochromic" molecules and surface "plasmons".  He also mentioned the experience provided him with a more in depth opportunity to expand his skills conducting Chemistry experiments, to learn about graduate school and to explore possible careers that are available to students with Chemistry degrees.  However, the best part of the experience for Ryan was, “coming to a new place, that I've never been to before and participating in new research.”
    As for his future, Ryan plans to continue his research with his mentor, Dr. Fiedler, possibly pursue another REU next summer involving either Chemistry or Math and eventually become a lab technician or mathematician.  As for graduate school, Ryan said he "isn't all that interested right now," but he has plenty of time to reconsider its prospects.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Kansas Physics Teachers Convene at Kansas State University to Connect Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics with the Next Generation Science Standards

Presenters:  Dr. Chris Elles, Mr. Matt Krehbiel, Dr. Bret Flanders, Dr. Charles Fehrenbach, Dr. Anh Thu Le, Dr. Dean Zollman

     On June 8, 2015, a group of five physics teachers from across the state of Kansas and three UKanTeach students from the University of Kansas (KU) met at Kansas State University (KSU) to attend the Kansas NSF EPSCoR teacher workshop titled "Connecting the Physics of Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)."  This three day workshop was developed by Dr. Chris Elles, KU Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Kansas NSF EPSCoR AMO research team member, Dr. Jackie Spears, Director of the Science Education Center and Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at KSU, and Dr. Paul Adams, Dean of the College of Education and Technology, Anschutz Professor of Education and Professor of Physics at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) to address physics teachers concerns related to wave and electromagnetic radiation curriculum gaps.  In addition to addressing the curricular issues, this workshop facilitated the opportunity for teachers to interact with KU and KSU Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) physics team members to discuss the Kansas/Nebraska NSF EPSCoR AMO research project.
     Special guest, Mr. Matt Krehbiel, Science Program Consultant for the Kansas Department of Education, served as the keynote speaker. Mr. Krehbiel modeled and facilitated activities that demonstrated the overarching Next Generation Science Standards teaching and learning expectations. In addition, he provided the framework and emphasized the teaching strategies necessary for developing high school physics lessons related to the Wave and Electromagnetic Radiation Next Generation Science Standard.
     Dr. Bret Flanders, provided some fun, hands-on demonstrations and activities designed to introduce the basic concepts of waves as well as explore wave behavior using several sound waves experiments.
    On day two, Dr. Charles Fehrenbach introduced light wave concepts. He then led the teachers on a tour through the KSU James R. Macdonald AMO Physics Laboratory. While on the tour, the teachers observed the mechanics of the laser designs and interacted with both undergraduate and graduate students conducting AMO experiments.
     Dr. Anh Thu Le introduced the theoretical aspects of the AMO research project and shared some very useful diagrams and illustrations that the teachers could easily incorporate into their lessons.
     In the afternoon, Dr. Chris Elles along with the KU UKanTeach students presented early drafts of spectroscopy lessons associated with Dr. Elles' NSF Career Award and asked the current physics teachers for their experienced feedback. These lessons served as a foundation for the following day's lesson planning session and provided the teachers with some creative examples for how to directly connect the AMO research to the Next Generation Science Standards.
     On the third day of the workshop Dr. Dean Zollman  introduce a unique online physics resource he created titled Visual Quantum Mechanics.  The teachers surveyed the website and recognized it could enhance a lesson related to the AMO research as well as seamlessly align with the Wave and Electromagnetic Radiation Next Generation Science Standard. As the teachers began to formulate their ideas for lessons, some of them met with the AMO graduate students and professors in small groups to solidify their understanding of the AMO physics, wave and electromagnetic radiation concepts.
     Following these informal meetings, the teachers began the task of writing some model physics lessons addressing the "Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation" Next Generation Science Standard. Their goal was to design lessons that demonstrated how to construct student performance assessments; discuss disciplinary core ideas; incorporate cross cutting concepts; and create opportunities to develop science and engineering practices. Upon completion, these new lesson plans will ultimately serve as exemplary lessons for teachers across the state to utilize in their classrooms. 
     As a result of their participation in this Kansas EPSCoR teacher workshop, the teachers stated they now have a better understanding for how to connect the AMO Physics research with the Next Generation Science Standards as well as write lessons that reflect the state of Kansas' science education initiatives.  They also appreciated acquiring a new set of activities and resources related to waves, electromagnetic radiation and AMO physics to share with their colleagues and to assist them with the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.

The workshop was deemed very informative, very useful and very productive by the participants.  
Special thanks to all KSU, KU and FHSU faculty and staff 
who made the event a great success.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Kansas and Nebraska EPSCoR AMO Research Project encourages STEM interests for young women at the Kansas State University EXCITE Summer Program

     On June 5, 2015, Dr. Vinod Kumarappan, Associate Professor of Physics at Kansas State University and Kansas NSF EPSCoR research team member introduced the EXCITE students to the physics associated with sound and light waves. EXCITE, or Exploring Science, Technology, and Engineering, encourages and fosters female students in the 9th -12th grades to pursue a future in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and agriculture.

     Dr. Kumarappan is one of the key researchers involved with The Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Nebraska and Kansas NSF EPSCoR Track 2 project Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures. His main research focus is to develop methods to align and orient small molecules in the gas phase, and to study ultrafast physics in the molecular frame.

     During his presentation, Dr. Kumarappan conducted several demonstrations illustrating both sound and light wave behavior under a variety of conditions. The participants were fascinated with the experiments and actively participated in the discussion.

     Once the EXCITE participants had a general idea of wave behaviors, Dr. Kumarappan led the group on a tour of the James R. Macdonald Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics Laboratory and showed the participants the intricate workings of a complex laser system. He then explained his research, emphasized connections to his previous presentation and provided concrete examples to illustrate his scientific methods for addressing his research questions.  

     The participants were visibly intrigued by all the demonstrations.Following the conclusion of the presentation and the tour, several participants exclaimed "This physics stuff is so cool!"

Friday, June 12, 2015

HERS Student receives the NAPIRE Award

David Tyndall presenting his HERS research
David Tyndall, a current undergraduate student at Haskell Indian Nations University and participant in the Haskell Environmental Research Studies (HERS) Program, has received the prestigious Native American Pacific Islander Research Experience Award (NAPIRE) and will travel to Costa Rica to participate in the NAPIRE summer research program.

The NAPIRE Program provides a unique, intensive opportunity for undergraduate students to conduct scientific field research as well as apply the scientific method to ecological discovery in a collaborative and team-oriented environment.  The experience requires students to complete a research project which includes experimental design, data gathering and analysis, and a presentation of their results at the NAPIRE Symposium.  In addition to completing a research project, students will participate in lectures, seminars and field activities that focus on tropical ecology and conservation as well as interacting with the indigenous groups observing the role of Native People in tropical forest conservation.

David, a member of the Red Lake Minnesota Band of Chippewa Indians, is currently working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science at Haskell Indian Nations University.  During his time in the HERS program, his research interests focused on Fish Waste Anaerobic Digestion, an effort to manage fish waste and convert it into electricity and fertilizer for the reservation. This project inspired him to work with University of Kansas Associate Professor of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, Belinda Sturm as a member of her wastewater management research team. Kansas NSF EPSCoR partially funded Dr. Sturm’s research as part of its major initiative, Climate change and Energy, Basic Science, Impacts and Mitigation.

From his NAPIRE research, he hopes to better understand water quality impacts on decomposition rates of leaf-litter. He also hopes to discover and better understand the culture of Costa Rica as well as observe the role of Native People in tropical forest conservation.

As for his future, David plans to graduate from Haskell Indian Nations University with an Environmental Science degree, and either attend graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering or join the Air Force where he can have a career and protect my country at the same time.”

Kansas NSF EPSCoR would like to congratulate Mr. Tyndall for the success he has leveraged from his opportunity at the HERS Institute.

Friday, June 5, 2015

NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Researchers Host Impressive Research Review

The Kansas and Nebraska Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Research Review participants
The Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) research groups in Nebraska and Kansas held the first of three review meetings for their joint NSF EPSCoR Track 2 project Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures.  The two state research teams gathered at Kansas State University on May 26 to present updates as well as new scientific findings in the field of AMO physics to a review panel of experts in the field.

The project team's recent efforts wowed the review panel that consisted of three AMO physics specialists, Louis DiMauro from Ohio State University, George Gibson from the University of Connecticut, and Mark Stockman from Georgia State University, as well as an evaluation expert, Cindi Dunn from the Office of Educational Innovation and Evaluation at Kansas State University. The panel was invited to review, question and provide feedback based on their evaluation of the scientific progress made since the award was granted in August, 2014.

Uma Venkateswaren, NSF EPSCoR Program Manager, was also invited to provide additional guidance from a federal perspective. Kansas and Nebraska collaborative teams spent the day presenting engaging reports of their progress as it pertained to their scientific goals, partnering efforts, joint publications and plans for future research. The framework for the educational outreach and broader impacts events as well as participant projections for these activities were also shared. Following the morning sessions, meeting attendees were invited to tour the James R. Macdonald Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics laboratory where the Kansas State University AMO research is conducted.

Following the day's activities, the panel met to discuss their observations and recommendations. The research teams received a favorable review and will incorporate the panel’s suggestions in their future efforts.

The next event, an AMO Research Symposium, will take place at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln in September.

For more information related to this EPSCoR project go to The National Science Foundation webpage for Award Abstract #1430519  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

CALL FOR WHITE PAPERS – Major Initiatives Research Infrastructure Improvement Track‐1 (posted March 31, 2015)

In August 2015, the Kansas NSF EPSCoR office anticipates submitting a Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track‐1 proposal to the National Science Foundation for funding. The goal of NSF EPSCoR is to “strengthen research and education in science and engineering throughout the United States” with special focus on funding projects that have major impact on the research infrastructure within states which traditionally receive lesser amounts of NSF research dollars. Successful Track‐1 proposals can receive up to $20 million for five years. A major research initiative that would be part of the Kansas project could receive between $500‐800 K per year depending on the scope of the project.

White papers will only be considered for projects that interface with the research areas related to NSF’s new initiative, INFEWS (Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems). Visit this NSF Link for a better understanding of this area.

Submission Deadline:

The Proposal is Due by 5:00 PM MONDAY, April 20, 2015

Download the RFP 
Kansas NSF EPSCoR:
Kristin Bowman‐James, Project Director
Doug Byers, Assistant Director

Telephone: 785‐864‐3096
Fax: 785‐864‐3093
E‐mail: nsfepscor@ku.edu

Sources of Additional Information:

Kansas NSF EPSCoR Web site: http://www.nsfepscor.ku.edu
NSF Web site: http://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/programs/epscor/about.jsp

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Technology Tuesday at the Bioscience & Technology Business Center


On March 24th, the Bioscience & Technology Business Center (BTBC) at the University of Kansas is hosting a new networking event for researchers, investors, companies and economic development professionals, organized by KU Innovation & Collaboration (KUIC) and BTBC. KUIC licensing staff will present partnering opportunities in the areas of:

  • Aerospace
  • Transportation
  • Vaccines
  • Biomass conversion
  • New pharmaceuticals

Meet the inventors, mingle with entrepreneurs, investors and business executives. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be provided. The event will take place Tuesday, March 24, 2015 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm.

The Bioscience & Technology Business Center is located at 2029 Becker Drive, Lawrence, KS 66047.

Register for the event at this link.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Science: Becoming the Messenger - Workshop at K-State

Science: Becoming the Messenger

Presented by the National Science Foundation
April 13-14, 2015
K-State Alumni Center, main ballroom

Science: Becoming the Messenger workshops combine relevant instruction with practical training in the discipline and skills of effective science communication. This free workshop is commissioned by the National Science Foundation and presented by Ninja Communications. Preregistration is required.

This workshop is highly useful for faculty, researchers and staff. Coaching techniques will help you communicate science to a nontechnical public.

200 spots are available for Monday, April 13. Day two, April 14, is by invitation only.

Visit http://www.k-state.edu/globalfood/events/nsfworkshop.html for more information including how to register.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

KNE to Sponsor Summer Research Experience for Undergraduate Students in Physics

Undergraduate students in Kansas interested in atomic, molecular and optical science can gain a unique research experience this summer.

Kansas State University department of physics is hosting an NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) program entitled Interactions of Matter, Light and Learning for ten weeks this summer.

Kansas NSF EPSCoR will sponsor up to three undergraduate students attending school in Kansas or Nebraska who are willing to join a group of about a dozen undergraduate students selected nationwide. These students will be funded by the NSF-EPSCoR Track 2 grant, Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures.