Dear Colleague Letter: Special Guidelines for Submitting Collaborative US-Israeli Research Proposals

Monday, November 23, 2015

NSF 16-019

Dear Colleague Letter: Special Guidelines for Submitting Collaborative Proposals under the US NSF/CISE/SaTC - US-Israel BSF International Opportunity

November 16, 2015


The US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Research Cooperation. The MOU provides an overarching framework to encourage collaboration between US and Israeli research communities and sets out the principles by which jointly supported activities might be developed. The MOU provides for an international collaboration arrangement whereby US researchers may receive funding from the NSF and Israeli researchers may receive funding from the BSF

The Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) of the US National Science Foundation and the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation are pleased to announce a US-Israel collaborative research opportunity. The goal is to help reduce some of the current barriers to working internationally. Through a lead agency model, NSF/CISE and BSF will address these issues by allowing US and Israeli researchers to submit a single collaborative proposal that will undergo a single review process.


As described in detail below, this program is intended to encourage collaborations by US and Israeli researchers focused on foundational research in all areas of cybersecurity that is likely to have impacts on the security and trustworthiness of cyberspace in the long term. NSF will fund the US researchers and BSF will fund the Israeli researchers. Proposals must be respondent to the Small category (up to $500,000 over 3 years for the NSF-funded portion) and the Trustworthy Computing (TWC) perspective specified in the NSF Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) solicitation. US researchers should obtain pre-approval from NSF before submission. US and Israeli collaborative researchers must each submit the identical research description to NSF and BSF (respectively), with each budgeting for their own participants, and including a copy of the budget for the counterparts. US participants must include a supplementary document consenting to the release of their NSF proposal and unattributed NSF reviews to BSF. All proposals will be reviewed by NSF; those selected for funding will have separate agreements with NSF (for US researchers) and BSF (for Israeli researchers).

Proposals will be accepted for collaborative research in areas at the intersection of NSF/CISE and BSF as set out below:

NSF Solicitation

Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) NSF 15-575

BSF Solicitation

Call for Proposals in the BSF-NSF program in Cybersecurity

Any topic within scope for the Trustworthy Computing (TWC) perspective of the NSF SaTC solicitation is within scope for funding through this collaborative research opportunity. Topics of particular interest include cyber-physical systems security, privacy, secure software, and cryptography. Abstracts for projects funded in FY15 may be accessed by going to and entering "NSFSaTC-BSF". Proposals are expected to adhere to the remit, funding limits, and grant durations for the BSF and NSF programs from which the funding is sought and must represent an integrated collaborative effort. This document provides guidelines for the preparation, submission, review, and award of NSF-BSF collaborative proposals.

Proposers are advised that all documents submitted to NSF or BSF may be shared with the other agency in order to implement the two-way agency activities.


NSF proposers must comply with the proposal preparation requirements outlined in NSF's Grant Proposal Guide as well as any programmatic requirements stipulated by the Small proposal competition of the Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program. The proposal must be submitted through NSF's FastLane system ( or ( to the SaTC program.

Both Israeli and US collaborators on a proposing team should follow directions specified by BSF and submit their joint proposal via the BSF system (

  1. Prior to submission, NSF proposers should contact NSFSaTC-BSF [at] nsf [dot] gov to discuss the research focus of the international project.
  2. Proposers should submit a research proposal in accordance with the proposal preparation requirements of both agencies. The proposal should include a description of the proposed research program, research team, and the total resources for the joint project (that is, the funds requested from both the NSF and BSF).
  3. The budget forms submitted to each agency should only indicate the amount requested from that agency. NSF proposers should only indicate the US expenses on the NSF budget form. BSF proposers should indicate only the Israeli research expenses on the BSF budget form. A copy of the proposed requested budget of the other agency should be included as part of the full proposal (i.e., copies of the BSF budget should be included as a supplemental document in the NSF submission, while copies of the NSF budget should be included in the BSF submission). The Budget Justification section of the full proposal should address the full US and Israeli project budgets, and these must be clearly differentiated in the proposal. Proposals that request duplicative funding may be returned without review.
  4. In the case of NSF, the following documents must be provided as Supplementary Documents to the full proposal submission:
    • Institutional endorsement: An institutional acknowledgment of the submission must be a signed letter from an authorized institutional representative from the Israeli institution with the following text: "I confirm on behalf of [insert name of Israeli institution] that the US-Israel Collaborative proposal between [insert name of US PI and his/her institution] and [insert name of Israeli PI and his/her institution] is endorsed and has been submitted by [name of Israeli university's research office], and that BSF has acknowledged the proposed collaboration."
    • Funding requested from BSF: A detailed breakdown of funding requested from BSF should be included, typically in the form of a spreadsheet.
    • Consent: Written consent by the PIs that the proposals and unattributed reviews will be shared with the partner agency, BSF. This consent may be in the form of a signed letter from the PI stating, "I confirm on behalf of [insert name of US institution] that proposals and unattributed reviews will be shared with BSF."
    • The list of participants required as a supplemental document by the SaTC solicitation must include both US and Israeli participants. The list of collaborators required as a supplemental document by the SaTC solicitation must include collaborators of both the US and Israeli participants. These lists are used to avoid conflicts of interest in assigning reviewers, so including the collaborators of the Israeli participants is important.
    • A Collaboration Plan (up to two pages) describing the collaboration between US and Israeli investigators is encouraged, and may be submitted as a supplemental document. This plan does not count against the 15-page limit for the basic proposal, as described in the solicitation.
  5. The following guidance pertains to the NSF submission:
    • Israeli PIs should NOT be listed as co-PIs on the NSF cover sheet.
    • Biographical sketches for Israeli PIs should be included as supplementary documents, not along with the biographical sketches for the US participants.
    • Current and pending awards lists are NOT required for Israeli participants.
    • If only one US institution is involved, the NSF standard of including the word "collaboration" in the title should NOT be followed, as that is an indication that more than one US institution is involved.
    • US PIs are limited to not more than three submissions to the SaTC solicitation, of which no more than two may be to the Small, Medium, or Large categories. Submission of a Small proposal pursuant to this Dear Colleague Letter is included in that limit (i.e., if submitting in response to this US-Israel collaborative research opportunity, only one additional Small/Medium/Large may be submitted).
  6. For projects involving human subjects/participants, proposers should consult both NSF and BSF policies.
  7. The full proposal should indicate the proposal is to be considered under the lead agency activities by prefacing the title with "NSFSaTC-BSF:". This prefix should be placed before all other codes as described in the SaTC solicitation. For example, the full title for a submission to NSF under this DCL could be "NSFSaTC-BSF: TWC: Small: Title".
  8. The full proposal should be submitted by the established closing date of submission as determined by the lead agency. For NSF, this is the NSF SaTC Small proposal deadline in November 2015. For BSF, this is the date published on the BSF website and written in the submission instructions for the program.
  9. The number of proposals that may be submitted in response to this DCL is limited by the underlying NSF and BSF programs; there are no additional limits imposed by this international opportunity.


NSF-BSF collaborative proposals will be reviewed alongside all other unsolicited or standard proposals received in the same funding round or call and will not undergo a separate or special review process.

Proposals will be reviewed in accordance with NSF's review criteria; reviewers are asked to evaluate research on both its intellectual merit and broader impacts.


The funding recommendations will be discussed with the partner agency (BSF). The lead agency (NSF) will use its usual internal procedures to determine whether a proposal will be awarded or declined. Funding decisions may be subject to the availability of funds.

All proposers will be advised whether their proposal has been recommended for funding or will be declined. Proposers will receive copies of the reviewers' unattributed comments and, where applicable, a panel summary. Should a proposal be declined for funding, proposers should refer to the respective agency resubmission policies.

Award letters will identify that the award for joint international research is made in collaboration between NSF and BSF.

Because the participating organizations have different funding cycles, it is possible that some projects will have delayed start dates in order to wait until funds become available.


Awardees will be expected to comply with the award conditions and reporting requirements of the agencies from which they receive funding.

Awardees will be required to acknowledge both NSF and BSF in any reports or publications arising from the grant.

Extensions and supplements will be considered by participating agencies using standard procedures. Requests for changes to awards pertaining to changes in scope in research or changes or delays to the research will be discussed with other involved funding agencies before a mutual decision is reached.

2015 STEM Summit Agenda Announced

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Missouri Mathematics and Science Coalition will be hosting its 4th bi-annual MO STEM Summit, November 4-5, 2015 in St. Louis. This event will bring together leaders, visionaries from education, business and government to share best practices and to advance the agenda for innovation in Missouri's STEM education and policy development.

This year's Summit will focus attention on high-impact STEM Programming that is being delivered in the K-12 and Higher Education sectors. Emphasis is also being placed upon business and education partnerships that help with career pathway development.

Who should attend? Anyone who is focused on STEM Education at the K-12, postsecondary and in business industry.

2015 STEM Summit Details

Wednesday, November 4th  & Thursday, November 5th, 2015
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel- Chesterfield
16625 Swingley Bridge Road
St. Louis, MO 63017

Click Here for the Agenda

Please contact Brian Crouse at bcrouse [at] mochamber [dot] com or 573-634-3511 or visit

Diversity, Education and Outreach Specialist Job Opportunity

Friday, May 15, 2015

Diversity, Education and Outreach Specialist

Initial consideration will be given to applications received prior to 4:00 p.m. on Friday, June 5th, 2015. Thereafter, applications will be reviewed on an as-needed basis. NCAR – Outreach Services Group at NCAR’s Computational & Information Systems Lab (CISL) Click here for more information and to apply.


This person oversees, promotes, participates in, and implements education, outreach, and diversity programs on local, regional, national, and international scales. These outreach efforts are generally focused on developing external community and student interest in and application of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines that support CISL’s computational mission in the atmospheric and related sciences.


  • Social Media Networking and Communication: Develops and implements a diversity-oriented Social Media Strategy. The Coordinator should be familiar with principal social media outlets and their use as marketing tools, focusing on diversity-related sites, particularly those in STEM fields.
  • Writes stories and takes photographs for CISL’s monthly newsletter. Creates written brochures and pamphlets describing CISL programs. Develops and maintains a creative, timely and appropriate presence in various social media venues.
  • Diversity Liaison: Works with Human Resources and the NCAR Diversity and Outreach Director to coordinate diversity efforts across the organization. Participates in the NCAR Diversity Committee. Collaborates with the State of Wyoming’s diversity program(s) and the EPSCoR program in support of diversity goals for the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC). Coordinates efforts in NSF programs such as the National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE). Makes presentations to internal and external entities outlining program goals and achievements.
  • Relationship Building: Identifies and cultivates important relationships with key Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) for promoting atmospheric and computational science programs and as sources for prospective interns and students for other positions within the Lab. Creates a plan, builds and nurtures relationships with MSIs, and performs outreach visits to bolster CISL’s diversity and education goals.
  • The SIParCS Program Lead is a centerpiece of CISL’s efforts to integrate research and education. Continues the growth and success of this interdisciplinary internship program, which typically brings 10–15 student interns to work for CISL each summer. Supports the ongoing operation of all aspects of CISL’s SIParCS internship program, including recruitment, application tracking and candidate hiring process. Helps develop new proposal ideas and identifies appropriate funding sources, develops program budgets, and ensures that the program remains within budget.
  • Develops a successful and impactful outreach and community engagement exhibit and event portfolio in support of CISL’s mission. Helps develop and align exhibit concepts and ideas with the CISL Strategic Plan, then works with subject matter experts to design and implement these exhibits and events. Finally, the incumbent ensures that the exhibits and events are used effectively to realize CISL’s diversity, outreach, and education goals.
  • Works with partners such as the Wyoming Business Council, Minority Serving Institutions, and the broader university community to define messaging and implement exhibits and events for maximum collective impact. Coordinates with other internal and external organizational units on the effective use of exhibits at both at the NCAR Mesa Laboratory and the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center. Ensures that booth designs are cost effective and appropriate to planned venues. Defines, collects, manages, and reports all metrics required for these events.


Education and Experience:

Bachelor’s degree, at least four to six years of relevant program experience in outreach programs, or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Specialized understanding of outreach, education, diversity, and internship programs.
  • Knowledge of and ability to interpret institutional policies and procedures and guide others.
  • Strong verbal, written, and presentation skills.
  • Strong knowledge of word processing and graphic design. Proficiency in database, presentation, and spreadsheet applications. Skill in working in a networked computing environment.
  • Advanced written and oral communication skills. Advanced knowledge of English composition, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage. Working knowledge of proofreading, editing, and publication production.
  • Proficiency in the use of spreadsheets, budgets, and financial tools systems (accounting and reporting systems).
  • Advanced skill in the use of Microsoft Office, including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
  • Works with limited budgets that support quality exhibits, workshops, or meetings.
  • Ability to work under high pressure and be flexible in response to changing plans.
  • Ability to work independently, plus the ability to work effectively in team situations.
  • Strong ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing in a public outreach capacity.
  • Strong interpersonal, organizational, and multi-tasking skills. Sensitivity in working in multi-cultural settings.
  • Ability to represent the organization on entity-wide or institution-wide committees.
  • Ability to delegate work and provide training. May supervise staff and students.
  • Ability to travel.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) is an equal opportunity employer. We evaluate qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, gender, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, sexual orientation, domestic partner status, disability, or veteran status.

Job Location

Boulder, Colorado, United States

Position Type


Appointment Type


Expand Your Broader Impact Skills: AIBS Communications Boot Camp for Scientists

Event date(s): Monday, October 15, 2018 to Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Location: AIBS Washington, DC, Offices, 1201 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 420, Washington, DC 20005

Rarely has the need for effective and influential communication about science been more important than it is today.

Politicians and political interests are redefining and reinterpreting science—with great persistence and impact. The public is routinely asked to make decisions about matters informed by science. The news media is endeavoring to share increasingly complex stories about science with the public. The majority of the public still respect scientists and value science, but they often find it challenging to discern who and what is legitimate.

Simply adding to the noise will not provide individuals with the understanding they need to inform their deliberations and decisions. Scientists must become more skilled at communicating in impactful ways.

As called for by many sources, the time for business as usual has passed. There is a real and immediate need for scientists to become effective and engaged communicators.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is responding to this need by offering scientists a professional development opportunity. The AIBS Communications Training Boot Camp for Scientists expands on our highly successful media and science policy training workshops. The program meets the needs of everyone from graduate students to senior researchers and program administrators.

AIBS is the scientific organization that promotes the use of science to inform decision-making that advances biology for the benefit of science and society.

AIBS has a long and successful track record of engaging, informing, and influencing the public and science policy decision-makers. Our audiences include members of Congress, federal agency heads and program managers, state officials, and university administrators. In addition to working directly with these groups, we routinely engage the public through traditional and digital media.

Our staff members have used their decades of science policy and communications experience to develop training materials and resources that provide scientists with the skills needed to successfully communicate about their research with decision-makers and reporters. To date, AIBS has trained more than 1,700 scientists.

AIBS Communications Boot Camp

The Boot Camp is an intensive, two-day, hands-on training program in Washington, DC.

Participants will learn: 

  • How to translate scientific findings for non-technical audiences
  • How to tell a resonant story that informs decision-makers
  • How to prepare for and participate in a news interview
  • How to prepare for and engage in a meeting with a decision-maker
  • How to protect your scientific reputation
  • How to identify and define the audience you need to reach
  • What policymakers want and need to know from a scientist
  • What reporters are looking for in an interview
  • How to leverage social media
  • How the nation’s science policy is developed and implemented

Participants will have the opportunity for formal and informal discussions with science policy and communications experts working in Washington, DC.

Dates: October 15–16, 2018

Location: AIBS Washington, DC, Offices, 1201 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 420, Washington, DC 20005

Cost: The registration fee covers instruction, materials and resources, breakfast and lunch during the program, and a reception on October 15th. 


$440/person      AIBS Individual Members. The course is not tax deductible, but a portion of an individual AIBS membership is tax deductible. A non-refundable $100 deposit is required at the time of registration. Join or renew now.
$440/person Individuals officially nominated to participate by an AIBS Member Society or Organization (MSO) in good standing. A non-refundable $100 deposit is due at the time of registration.
$495/person Individuals who are not AIBS members or nominated by an AIBS MSO. A $100 deposit is due at the time of registration.Join AIBS now to save $55.00. 
  Group Discount: For any group or organization that sponsors the participation of four or more individuals, the registration rate will be reduced by $30/participant in the group. Please contact jpalakovichcarr [at] aibs [dot] org for details.

Register now:

Registration Open for Danforth Center Fall Symposium

Event date(s): Wednesday, September 26, 2018 to Friday, September 28, 2018
Location: Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, 975 N Warson Rd, St. Louis, MO 63132

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will host its 19th Annual Fall Symposium in Saint Louis, Missouri Wednesday, September 26, through Friday September 28, 2018.  The theme, “Bioengineering:  Synthetic Circuits to Sustainable Agriculture”, is particularly timely as the progressive integration of synthetic and designed biological systems is transforming biology and agriculture in the St. Louis region and beyond.

This symposium will focus on engineering plant, microbial, and ecological systems to deliver sustainable and novel solutions for agriculture; the introduction of novel pathways and traits; and the production of new biomolecules.  We will also feature several speakers who are developing novel tools and technologies to introduce synthetic circuits into microbial and plant systems.  Work in these areas will be highlighted in the context of recent advances in engineered biology at the level of pathways, organelles, organisms, and ecosystems.

Registration now open – click here

Early bird discounts for postdocs through August 24, 2018

Travel Awards available through August 24, 2018

Poster Contest - $200 to each of the three top posters

Solicitation Released: NSF INFEWS

Event date(s): Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Location: NSF

Program Title:

Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWS)

Program Deadline:

March 22, 2016

Synopsis of Program:

Humanity is reliant upon the physical resources and natural systems of the Earth for the provision of food, energy, and water. It is becoming imperative that we determine how society can best integrate across the natural and built environments to provide for a growing demand for food, water and energy while maintaining appropriate ecosystem services. Factors contributing to stresses in the food, energy, and water (FEW) systems include increasing regional and social pressures and governance issues as result of land use change, climate variability, and heterogeneous resource distribution. These interconnections and interdependencies associated with the food, energy and water nexus create research grand challenges in understanding how the complex, coupled processes of society and the environment function now, and in the future. There is a critical need for research that enables new means of adapting to future challenges. The FEW systems must be defined broadly, incorporating physical processes (such as built infrastructure and new technologies for more efficient resource utilization), natural processes (such as biogeochemical and hydrologic cycles), biological processes (such as agroecosystem structure and productivity), social/behavioral processes (such as decision making and governance), and cyber elements. Investigations of these complex systems may produce discoveries that cannot emerge from research on food or energy or water systems alone. It is the synergy among these components in the context of sustainability that will open innovative science and engineering pathways to produce new knowledge and novel technologies to solve the challenges of scarcity and variability.

The overarching goal of INFEWS is to catalyze the well-integrated interdisciplinary research efforts to transform scientific understanding of the FEW nexus in order to improve system function and management, address system stress, increase resilience, and ensure sustainability. The NSF INFEWS initiative is designed specifically to attain the following goals:

  1. Significantly advance our understanding of the food-energy-water system through quantitative and computational modeling, including support for relevant cyberinfrastructure;
  2. Develop real-time, cyber-enabled interfaces that improve understanding of the behavior of FEW systems and increase decision support capability;
  3. Enable research that will lead to innovative system and technological solutions to critical FEW problems; and
  4. Grow the scientific workforce capable of studying and managing the FEW system, through education and other professional development opportunities.

This activity enables interagency cooperation on one of the most pressing problems of the millennium - understanding interactions across the food, energy and water nexus - how it is likely to affect our world, and how we can proactively plan for its consequences. It allows the partner agencies - National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA/NIFA) and others - to combine resources to identify and fund the most meritorious and highest-impact projects that support their respective missions, while eliminating duplication of effort and fostering collaboration between agencies and the investigators they support.

NSF and USDA/NIFA are interested in promoting international cooperation that links scientists and engineers from a range of disciplines and organizations to solve the significant global challenges at the nexus of food, energy and water systems. Proposals including international collaboration are encouraged when those efforts enhance the merit of the proposed work by incorporating unique resources, expertise, facilities or sites of international partners. The U.S. team's international counterparts generally should have support or obtain funding through other non-NSF sources.

Below are the members of the INFEWS Working Group responsible for internal oversight of this solicitation. All questions regarding proposal submissions should be directed toINFEWSquestions [at] nsf [dot] gov or the program officers on the track teams responsible for the different tracks. See program description for descriptions of the different tracks. A complete list of the program officers on these track teams can be found on the program website

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

  • Thomas Torgersen, Co-Chair, Directorate for Geosciences, telephone: 703-292-4738, email: ttorgers [at] nsf [dot] gov
  • JoAnn Lighty, Co-Chair, Directorate for Engineering, telephone: 703-292-5382, email: jlighty [at] nsf [dot] gov
  • David Corman, Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering, telephone: 703-292-8754, email: dcorman [at] nsf [dot] gov
  • Alan Tessier, Directorate for Biological Sciences, telephone: 703-292-7198, email: atessier [at] nsf [dot] gov
  • Carol Bessel, Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences, telephone: 703-292-4906, email: cbessel [at] nsf [dot] gov
  • Robert O'Connor, Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences, telephone: 703-292-7263, email: roconnor [at] nsf [dot] gov
  • David Campbell, Directorate for Education & Human Resources, telephone: 703-292-5093, email: dcampbel [at] nsf [dot] gov
  • Lara Campbell, Office of International Science and Engineering, telephone: 703-292-7049, email: lcampbel [at] nsf [dot] gov
  • Audrey Levine, Office of Integrative Activities, telephone: 703-292-7374, email: alevine [at] nsf [dot] gov
  • Rachel Melnick, USDA/NIFA, telephone: 202-401-4980, email: rmelnick [at] nifa [dot] usda [dot] gov
  • Bruce Hamilton, Directorate for Engineering, telephone: 703-292-7066, email: bhamilto [at] nsf [dot] gov
  • Patrick Harr, Directorate for Geosciences, telephone: 703-292-8523, email: pharr [at] nsf [dot] gov

Strategic Planning Meeting Held on August 20

Event date(s): Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Location: Bradford Research Center

As an awardee of the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), Missouri is required by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct Strategic Planning meeting within 90 days of the award date (August 1, 2014). Investigators, team leads, project administration and NSF Program Officers came together for a strategic planning meeting on August 20, 2014.

The strategic planning meeting was held at the Bradford Research Center and facilitated by an independent external facilitator, Dr. Carl Batt, a Liberty Hyde Professor in the Department of Food at Cornell University. There were approximately 50 participants. Researchers traveled from Kansas City, St. Louis, Jefferson City, Rolla and around Columbia to attend the meeting. External participants came in from California, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Researchers traveled from around the state to collaborate on the Missouri Transect strategic plan at the Bradford Research Center in Columbia
                                Education Team creating timelines and accomplishments with collaboration through Skype

The morning opened with an introduction and welcome from Dr. John Walker, the Project Director and Principal Investigator of Missouri EPSCoR. Dr. Kelvin Chu, Program Officer at NSF EPSCoR, outlined the expectations from NSF for the strategic plan. Each team lead gave short 5 to 10-minute presentations about their team’s research question, goals, and investigators.

After a short break, participants split off into their research teams. They drafted the expected accomplishments by the end of the five-year program, determined timelines for their activities in research and outreach and created a poster for further discussion.

Everyone reconvened and Dr. Chris Elsik, the Cyberinfrastructure (CI) team lead, led a discussion about integrating CI capabilities with each team’s research and database needs.

After the discussion, researchers split up to visit each poster and discuss timelines and accomplishments with other teams. They noted on other teams’ accomplishments posters possible individual or team collaborations to achieve each accomplishment

Participants visited other teams’ posters to discuss how the timelines and accomplishments fit into the Missouri Transect project

The full group reconvened for a presentation from the external evaluator about the EPSCoR evaluation process. Then the Statewide Committee Chair, Dr. Keith Gary spoke to the group about the role of the Statewide Committee and the Academic and CI subcommittees, the Missouri Science & Technology plan, and how to build commercialization partners and increasing communication with the State government. The meeting closed with comments from Dr. Walker.

Missouri S&T doctoral student enlists drones to detect unexploded landmines through changes in plant health

Posted by
On January 9, 2018

Read the original article on the website here.

From U.S. Navy laboratories to battlefields in Afghanistan, researchers are lining up to explore the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to detect unexploded landmines. At Missouri University of Science and Technology, civil engineering doctoral student Paul Manley is enlisting a third variable —plant health — to see if drones can be used to more safely locate such weapons of destruction.

Manley’s Ph.D. research leverages his master’s thesis work in biology at Virginia Commonwealth University with the resources of Missouri S&T. In his case, that notably includes the MinerFly support team, which helps researchers such as Manley and thesis adviser Dr. Joel Burken with UAV construction, flight tests and navigating Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

“At VCU, Paul’s experiments on plant responses to explosives were at the leaf level and in the lab,” says Burken, Curators’ Distinguished Professor and chair of civil, architectural and environmental engineering. “Now his research can be applied at the field level with the use of UAVs.”

Paul Manley, a doctoral student in civil engineering, speaks about his work to enlist drones for environmental research to safely identity mine locations based on changes to plant health. Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T

The hyperspectral camera Manley favors is no ordinary point-and-shoot. Rather, the device’s higher spectral resolution allows for image collection across hundreds of bands that can detect subtle changes in how plants such as corn and sorghum gain or lose water and nutrients, or how they biochemically respond to stress.

“As drought increases, so does the relative temperature around that area,” says Manley. “So we can use thermal imaging to see how plants are responding to drought stress. When you add in those hundreds of bands, you can really ‘see’ how the plants are responding.”

The research is funded in part through Missouri S&T’s share of a five-year, $20 million National Science Foundation grant to nine institutions across the state that are teaming up to better understand climate variability and its potential agricultural, ecological and social impacts.

The consortium enables Manley to conduct test flights at locations such as the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Bradford Research Center as well as the Southwest Research Center near Mount Vernon, Missouri. Soil, terrain and crop types vary by location.

The project, “Missouri Transect: Climate, Plants and Community” received federal funding from the Experimental Program to Stimulate Cooperate Research (EPSCoR), with a goal of building research teams and expanding research capacity across the state.

Those same sensors are now being pointed toward the topic of detecting landmines and explosives. Existing landmine detection methods are far from ideal, Manley explains.

“Currently, you have people walking around the minefields, leading animals on leashes, tilling up the surface to just detonate the mines and get it over with, or they are using ground-penetrating radar to detect these in the subsurface,” Manley says. Another innovative device —constructed from plastic, iron and bamboo, and powered by wind — would need to be replaced each time it detected any of the more than 100 million unexploded landmines across the world.

“These detection methods are really slow, and they’re expensive, and they all involve people out in the minefields doing this work, so it’s dangerous,” he says.

Observing changes in plant health to determine the presence of unexploded landmines is not dissimilar from Manley’s earlier work. Over time, he explains, the mine casings can degrade, causing changes in soil properties as compounds then leach into the subsurface.

Explosive ingredients such as TNT and RDX, also known as T4, are “taken up by plants readily,” he says.

“RDX gets into groundwater, while TNT tends to stay in the roots. And RDX is readily taken into the leaves.”

By combing the knowledge of how plants and chemicals interact and the new technical capabilities to ‘see’ how plants behave from the sky, Manley aims to have a new approach to help disarm minefields around the globe — and change the world for the better.

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