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.

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.