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King University News :: King College Participant in $20 Million National Science Foundation Grant

The state of Tennessee along and a consortium of public and private colleges and universities, including King College, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) recently received $20 million in grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to boost the state's energy-related research and education efforts.

The $20 million grant was awarded through the NSF's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Research Infrastructure Improvement Program. A coalition of scientists, faculty, and students from the consortium will be grouped together into network nodes for conducting research, mentorship, and outreach.

Faculty from 11 institutions will be participating in the nodes including East Tennessee State University; Fisk University; King College; Middle Tennessee State University; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Tennessee State University; Tennessee Technological University; University of Memphis; University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT); University of Tennessee Space Institute; and Vanderbilt University.

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.

Specifically the grant will fund:

• Awards to new faculty at non-research extensive institutions

• Scholarships/stipends for graduate students participating in academic bridge programs between Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, and other research universities

• Summer research experience for undergraduates

• Outreach to K-12 classrooms

• Summer internships and a yearlong undergraduate training program

Many of these opportunities will be available for faculty and staff from all Tennessee colleges and universities.

Dr. John Gilmer, an associate professor of chemistry for King College, will serve as Partnering University Faculty (PUF) for the team at King College, and also serve as a primary advisor and mentor for one student. Dr. Gilmer will also work with the TN-SCORE team in an effort to facilitate the consolidation and growth of science and technology related for all three focus areas of advanced solar conversion and innovation, components and devices for energy storage and conversion, and nanostructures for enhancing energy efficiency.

Dr. Gilmer, who has been involved in the development of polymeric materials both in industry and academia, is excited to be able to work with leading scientists at major universities in the development of new materials for such a key area of application like solar energy. In his work involving organophotovoltaic materials, Dr. Gilmer has begun collaborating with Professor Mark Dadmun at UT and ORNL. With the EPSCoR funding, Dr. Gilmer anticipates involving students in independent research through summer research experiences at UT and research projects conducted during the semester at King College. This grant will additionally provide Dr. Gilmer with support for his own summer research at UT.

It is vitally important for our science students to experience firsthand what it takes to conduct the scientific research and development of new technologies and to consider this direction as a potential career path for them, said Dr. Gilmer.

For more information about EPSCoR, visit www.nsf.gov.