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Tennessee Universities Awarded $20 Million National Science Foundation Grant

Press Release from the Office of Gov. Phil Bredesen, Sept. 9, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today joined a consortium of public and private universities in the state to announce a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to boost the state’s energy-related research and education efforts. The grant is one of the largest ever awarded in Tennessee by the NSF.

A coalition of scientists, faculty and students from 11 public and private universities in Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will be grouped together into “network nodes” for conducting research, mentorship and outreach.

“The research funded by this grant will further advance our leadership in the area of clean energy technology development and enhance our efforts to expand educational opportunities in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math,” Bredesen said. “I’m especially pleased that public and private higher education and research institutions partnered with one another to collaborate and win this grant funding.”

The grant of $20 million over five years was awarded through the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Research Infrastructure Improvement Program. While eligible since 2002, Tennessee has not previously won an EPSCoR Research Infrastructure grant.

The funded project will draw upon the state’s expanding energy industry and bring researchers from Tennessee universities and ORNL together to boost energy-related research and education across the state. The award is designed to encourage students to pursue the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, helping the state produce a more advanced workforce.

“Tennessee will be hard-pressed to advance among states or even hold its own without strengthening its science, engineering and technology base. This sector will create jobs to meet challenges in energy, the environment, healthcare and more,” said Dennis Hall, vice provost for research at Vanderbilt University. “The grant will enable Tennessee’s higher education institutions to work together for the long-term greater good of the state.”

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