SC State receives $1.6M in USDA funding

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

SC State University is the recipient of $1.6 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding, university administrators announced today. The funding, awarded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), will be used to support various SC State agriculture training and research programs.

“The funding the university received from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture will enable SC State to support specific programs and research activities that address the challenges of this state and nation with relevant solutions,” said Dr. G. Dale Wesson, vice president of research, economic development and public service and executive director of 1890 Research & Extension. “More importantly, SC State can continue to train professionals who will serve as leaders in the STEM and agriculture and natural resources fields.”

Specifically, SC State received two 1890 Institution Research, Extension and Teaching Capacity Building Grants (CBG), totaling $649,921.

One grant will support the on-going efforts of the Savannah River Environmental Sciences Field Station (SRESFS), shared by a 29-member consortium with SC State serving as the lead institution. As the only undergraduate environmental station in the nation, the SRESFS has record success in producing outstanding minority environmental scientists by providing exposure to the field through rigorous courses and on-the-job training. In addition to sustaining existing programs, the grant will allow for program expansion to include potential training of current USDA employees. Dr. Denise S. Grant, interim director of SRESFS and assistant professor of civil engineering, is the principal investigator of the research project, funded for $150,000.

The remaining CBG was awarded to Dr. Jae-Dong Hong, professor of industrial and electrical engineering, in the amount of $449,921. Dr. Hong and his research team will develop a mathematical model and simulation tools that industries can use to reduce the high costs of alternative energy production – from harvesting the resources used to produce, store and distribute biomass and bio-energy. Researchers also will use the grant to enhance and develop the research and academic capacity of SC State in the areas of bio-energy and biomass.
Additionally, the university received $967,310 through the 1890 Facilities Grants program. Monies from this grant will be used to enhance facilities for SC State research, teaching and extension.

Receipt of the award is an example of the type of increased funding the university wants to achieve to make a positive impact in the state, nation and throughout the world through its new research initiative, which SC State will launch later this week At the 2010 Research Forum university officials will unveil plans for “$50 Million by 2015,” an initiative to increase the level of research funding to $50 million annually by fiscal year 2015. The forum will be held on Sept. 16 at noon in the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.

NIFA awarded grants to the 18 historically black colleges and universities, which form the national 1890 Land-Grant System. With the grants, these universities strengthen their research, teaching and extension capabilities in an effort to recruit and train students for careers in agriculture. SC State is South Carolina’s only public historical black land-grant university.

NIFA, formerly Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, provides funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs. The division focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future.