Black Hills State University recently received a grant of more than $180,000 to improve research capacity. The BHSU grant was among six grants announced last week from a from a special performance improvement fund created by state lawmakers in the closing days of the 2011 session will go to improve research capacity at all six public universities in South Dakota.

Proposals were solicited to leverage the one-time state dollars with non-state grant funding obtained by the campuses. Earlier this fall, a review committee composed of regents, state legislators, and research administrators selected proposals to be funded.

“We were particularly interested in projects that required matching dollars in support of federal or private research proposals, for new faculty start-up funds, or to help pay for scientific equipment that would enhance the capabilities of our campus research laboratories,” said Gary Johnson, system vice president of research for the South Dakota Board of Regents. “We were pleased to see the high caliber of proposals submitted.”

Nearly $920,000 in grants were awarded.

BHSU’s proposal titled “Acquisition of Equipment to Increase Research Capacity, Enhance Biomedical Research Infrastructure and Support Regional Economic Development” was one of the six proposals funded. This award of $184,875 leverages support from federal and state agencies, builds on successful initiatives and targets areas with potential for significant future impacts. BHSU students participating in undergraduate research experiences, and those enrolled in the Master of Science Program in Integrative Genomics will benefit directly as they learn to conduct scientific research using state of the art scientific equipment.

Funding from the special performance fund will advance targeted research initiatives at BHSU, including biomedical research, characterization of microbial communities found in SURF, development of new anti bacterial and anti malarial drugs from local plants and the investigation of novel biomedical properties of hops. Research targeting drug development has shown promising results and has tremendous potential for commercialization. This investment will lead to continued growth in research, increased competiveness for extramural funds, increased research collaborations and will support economic development in South Dakota.

“This grant is an opportunity for Black Hills State University to acquire scientific equipment that will enhance the capabilities of our campus research laboratories. BHSU faculty and students are already conducting ground-breaking research that has the potential for commercialization including an ongoing study of microbial communities at the Lab at Homestake, research centered on local plants to consider new anti bacterial and anti malarial drugs, and the investigation of biomedical properties of hops as well as several other projects. I commend our state lawmakers for making these research grant funds available. Research at the university level has great potential to positively impact the state’s economy. In addition, these grants enhance the educational experience for BHSU students by providing additional opportunities to work closely with faculty mentors on research projects using the latest scientific equipment,” noted BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp.

Dr. Shane Sarver, director of research at BHSU, notes that BHSU has evolved into a comprehensive university where research and scholarship are emphasized and strategically aligned with regional needs and priorities. The science programs at BHSU have been at the forefront of this transformation.

As a partner in the South Dakota Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (SD BRIN) lead by the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, BHSU’s WestCore laboratory was created in 2003 to meet the DNA sequencing and genotyping needs for researchers at BHSU and the other SD BRIN partner institutions. This partnership has allowed the expansion of the research initiatives at BHSU to include biomedical research and genomics. Adding to the opportunity for the expansion of research opportunities at BHSU is the close proximity to the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF). Scientific research at Black Hills State University has increased dramatically in the last decade. Extramural grant support has grown by 500 percent exceeding $44.5 million dollars for this time period.

The other projects funded include:
•$200,000 to South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, half for new faculty start-up funds and the other half directed to major research equipment upgrades.

•$200,000 to South Dakota State University to develop innovative high-density, plasma-based thin-film deposition technology for the development of high-efficiency, low-cost silicon solar cells. This proposal leveraged $320,000 in industry matching money.

•$200,000 to The University of South Dakota to develop research infrastructure for germanium crystal growth supporting research at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. Laboratory construction costs will be matched with $504,845 from institutional and third-party cost sharing.

•$80,000 to Dakota State University in support of a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Information Technology Excellence, which includes an industry match provided by Chenega Logistics to support a second post-doctoral researcher.

•$55,000 to Northern State University to acquire scientific laboratory equipment to support science faculty at NSU and their undergraduate researchers.

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