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  • NSF Awards $76M for 4 Sci-Tech Centers
Oct 2006
ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 12, 2006 -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a total of $76 million, to be distributed over five years, for four science-technology centers that will address fundamental questions in next-generation polymers, climate modeling, microbial oceanography and coastal environments.

With these new awards, NSF currently supports 17 such centers that involve nearly 100 academic institutions, national laboratories, industrial organizations or other entities.

The NSF Science and Technology Center for Layered Polymeric Systems, based at Case Western Reserve University, will conduct research "at the intersection between the physical sciences and polymer science and engineering," the NSF said. The research will center on a layering process created at Case that imparts features on the micro- and nanoscales. The forced-assembly process can combine otherwise incompatible polymers and other materials to produce hierarchical structures.

The center also involves partners at the University of Texas at Austin; Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn.; the Cleveland Municipal School District; the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss.; Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio; Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.; the State University of New York at Fredonia; the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, N.Y.; and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

The NSF Science and Technology Center for Multi-Scale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes, at Colorado State University, will create improved climate models for more accurately depicting cloud processes and enhancing climate and weather forecasting. The prototype model allows scientists to take a two-dimensional model of a collection of clouds and apply the behavior of those clouds to each of the thousands of grid columns of a global atmospheric model. The center also involves partners at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., in addition to other investigators and educators in the US and in Canada, Japan, England and Australia.

The NSF Science and Technology Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, will facilitate collaborations among the disparate disciplines of oceanography, microbiology, ecology and genomics.

Researchers will pursue a deeper understanding of the oceans and how they respond to global environmental variability and climate change and the biology, ecology and biogeochemistry of marine microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea, single-celled plants and viruses.

The center also involves partners at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Oregon State University, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, the University of California at Santa Cruz and the Hawaii Department of Education.

The NSF Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction, headquartered at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, will use advances in genomics and proteomics to study coastal margins. Coastal margins comprise less than 20 percent of the contiguous United States but support more than half of the US population, the NSF said.

The effort will involve SATURN, a space-age river and ocean observation network that includes boats, buoys, stationary platforms, undersea ocean gliders and even unmanned, bottom-crawling vehicles to continuously collect real-time data on water temperature, salinity, levels of oxygen and organic compounds, presence of microbial communities and other factors. Scientists will use the data to build computer models and simulations for determining climate change impacts on coastal margins, the roles coastal margins play in the global cycling of environmental carbon, nutrients, gases and other manmade and natural substances, and how far seaward human activities affect ecosystems.

The center also involves partners at the University of Washington, Oregon State University, Portland State University, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the University of Utah.

Each center receives roughly $19 million dollars over 5 years, and receives an additional five years of support, if approved, after an evaluation.

"The full diversity of the nation's intellectual talent will be engaged," added Pitts, "and the expectation is that new knowledge will be one of the primary products, as will the development of new instrumentation, new technologies and future scientists and engineers." For more information, visit:

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