University awarded largest competitive grant in its history


TUSKEGEE, Ala. (September 23, 2011) — The National Science Foundation has awarded Tuskegee University nearly $16 million in grants for various projects. One grant, valued at $9.9 million, will fund the development of a science education partnership with grade schools in the Black Belt region. The five-year award, which is the largest in the university’s history, will help the university and its partners to reach out to area science students and teachers, and help increase the use of nanobioscience.

“The primary goal of this project is to enhance the achievement of students in the sixth to eighth grades in science in Alabama’s Black Belt region,” said Shaik Jeelani, vice president for research and sponsored programs, principal investigator of this grant.

Partners in the grant include Alabama State University, Auburn University, and the University of Alabama (Birmingham and Tuscaloosa campuses). Other partners are Central Alabama, Enterprise, Shelton State, Wallace State and Wallace State at Selma community colleges. The Tuskegee bid won out of a field of 96 proposals submitted to the foundation’s Math and Science Partnership program.

Proposed objectives in Tuskegee’s bid included the development of nanobioscience-based curriculum modules to help teachers make science courses more interesting and effective. Also, the development of 3D simulations of all science experiments for students was proposed. Jeelani said it was the Tuskegee faculty’s expertise in nanobioscience and engineering, and the university’s history of collaboration with Black Belt region school districts that strengthened the proposal.

“For Tuskegee University to competitively secure more than $9.9 million over the next five years from an NSF grant is truly historic and groundbreaking. STEM education and research at Tuskegee has summarily been catapulted to a new plateau,” said Tuskegee University President Gilbert L. Rochon.

Also, the National Science Foundation has awarded Tuskegee a Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology grant. The $5 million award will fund the establishment of a center for researching nanobiomaterials from biorenewable and waste resources. The focus of the research will be on creating composite filler materials from waste and organic sources for use in manufacturing. The materials will be environment-friendly alternatives to synthetic, non-biodegradable materials. An educational outreach program will also be established to train and educate grade school and community college students and teachers. Mahesh Hosur, professor of materials science and engineering, serves as the principal investigator of this grant.

In addition, the foundation’s Division of Human Resource Development has awarded the university $1 million to enhance the materials science and engineering program. The grant will be used to enhance research capability for biomedical and pharmaceutical applications, develop a Master of Science Degree program in materials science and engineering, enhance student academic experiences, and seed funding for faculty research and education projects.

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