About Missouri EPSCoR

What is Missouri EPSCoR?

The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is designed to fulfill the mandate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to promote scientific progress nationwide. Missouri became eligible to apply for EPSCoR funding in 2012. The program aims to provide strategic opportunities to stimulate sustainable improvements in R&D infrastructure, capacity and competitiveness, and to advance science and engineering capabilities for discovery, innovation and knowledge-based prosperity - capabilities that will benefit Missourians from all regions - urban to rural - and from all economic levels.

Missouri EPSCoR History

A planning proposal was submitted to the NSF on January 13, 2012 and was awarded the same year. It outlined the steps for involving Missouri’s research, educational and business interests in devising a cohesive plan for improving Missouri science and its economic impact as well as all levels of STEM education and access to it by our diverse workforce and student populations. By identifying the most powerful points of leverage for building Missouri’s research and technology enterprise through the planning proposal, Missouri submitted its Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track 1 proposal and collaborated with Arkansas to submit its Track 2. On August 1, 2014, both the RII Track 1 and Track 2 projects were awarded funding by NSF.

Missouri Transect: Climate, Plants and Community

The Research Infrastructure Improvement Track 1 proposal, Missouri Transect Climate Plants and Community was submitted to NSF August 6, 2013. Funding was awarded by NSF to the project on August 1, 2014. The Missouri Transect Strategic Plan for Year 1 (2014-2015) can be found on the Strategic Plan page.

Missouri Transect Institutions

This project brings together researchers from 10 Missouri institutions: Donald Danforth Plant Center, St. Louis Science Center, Saint Louis University, Lincoln University, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri State University, University of Missouri Science and Technology, and the University of Missouri at Columbia, Kansas City and St. Louis.

Project Overview

Missouri Transect will enhance research in the transect from climate to plants to community. These interconnected areas build on research strengths in Missouri and, more importantly, establish a platform for infrastructure investments to fill critical needs.  As evidenced by the severe drought of 2012 that afflicted Missouri and other areas of the United States, water availability is the most significant environmental limitation on plants, directly and acutely affecting productivity and consequently the broader society. Climate change will cause periods of drought to become progressively more severe and frequent, which will exacerbate plant water usage and deplete soil moisture, resulting in greater risk of future drought and increased economic and societal impacts.

Missouri Transect builds on established capabilities in plant sciences, remote sensing and imaging, atmospheric and environmental sciences, economics approaches, and the social sciences to better understand and predict the responses of plants and society to climate change.

Infrastructure investments in people, technology, approaches, and ideas will enable us to better understand, model, and predict (1) short- and long-term trends in temperature and water availability in the state; (2) the impact of these trends on the productivity of our state’s native flora and agricultural crops; and (3) how different stakeholder communities are likely to respond to these changes. In addition to advancing our research capabilities, the proposed research infrastructure investments will enhance our educational efforts to develop and diversify Missouri’s STEM workforce.

Plant Imaging Consortium

The Research Infrastructure Improvement Track 2 proposal, Collaborative Research on Plant Stress Response Through Innovations in Phenomics and Molecular Imaging Technologies, was submitted to NSF in January, 2014. NSF awarded the research program on August 1, 2014. This project has brought together researchers in Missouri and Arkansas to form the Plant Imaging Consortium (PIC) and utilizes the MU Research Reactor facility.

Project Overview

PIC is an EPSCoR project that brings together researchers at Arkansas and Missouri institutions from multiple disciplines (synthetic chemistry, radiochemistry, imaging science, plant biology, bioengineering, computational biology and informatics).  PIC enables researchers to adapt food, fiber, and fuel crops to meet the challenges of a changing climate and a growing world population.  Research conducted addresses the Grand Challenge of understanding the phenotypic consequences of genotypic variation.

Multi-disciplinary teams work collaboratively on four experimental models (theme projects) to generate new discoveries in plant stress biology and develop bioimaging tools essential to the plant science community. The overarching research theme is to understand how short-term and long-range climate change impacts the resilience and productivity of crop and natural plant ecosystems.

This project will significantly benefit the agriculture-based economies of Arkansas and Missouri. It will generate new tools and discoveries to reduce crop losses to stresses such as drought, salinity, insects and diseases, which together are the single greatest limitation on agricultural yields. Moreover, it will promote diverse and inclusive workforce development practices while training students and creating linkages with private industry through internships and joint seminar series. Lastly, the consortium will promote STEM education by working with industry to develop a new competency model for primary and undergraduate education in emerging biology fields (i.e. bioimaging).

How can I be involved?

If you would like more information regarding Missouri EPSCoR, please contact the Project Administrator, Emily Haghighi by phone at (573) 884-1950, or by email at haghighie [at] missouri [dot] edu.