Louisiana Secures $2.5M from NASA for Space-related Research and Higher Ed

06/18/2015 08:08 AM

LaSPACE director and LSU professor of physics and astronomy T. Gregory Guzik is the principal investigator for the Space Grant and NASA EPSCoR projects.LaSPACE, the office which manages NASA Space Grant and NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR programs, has been awarded three significant multi-year awards from NASA to support space-related research development and higher education programs in Louisiana. The principal investigator for Space Grant and NASA EPSCoR projects is T. Gregory Guzik, LaSPACE director and LSU professor of physics and astronomy. Financial and management support is provided by the Sponsored Programs Office of the Louisiana Board of Regents. Over the next three years, Louisiana will receive $2.5 million from NASA, plus a crucial investment of about $1.9 million from the Board of Regents Support Fund.

“These three awards demonstrate that NASA recognizes the importance of Louisiana’s aerospace R&D and workforce development,” Guzik said. “The robust and continued investments from the Board of Regents proves Louisiana’s commitment to growing STEM-based research and industry.”

The National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program Training Grant, first awarded to Louisiana back in 1991, has been renewed for a three-year cycle. The Space Grant award brings in about $1.4 million from NASA plus a $750,000 state match from the the Board of Regents Support Fund for programs at 29 affiliated member institutions. The statewide LaSPACE program is administered by a team of professionals based at the lead institution, LSU, which invests an additional $225,000. LaSPACE programs fund projects primarily for students in higher education and university-based, NASA-related research, with some secondary support for K-12 teacher development and public outreach. LaSPACE supports faculty and student research in such areas as astrophysics, nanotechnology, aerodynamics, rocket propulsion and thermodynamic power generation. LaSPACE also supports senior design projects, a statewide scientific student ballooning program and internships at NASA facilities. Programs for the new three-year cycle will open this month for participating affiliates.

The LaSPACE team, with support from the Board of Regents, also manages Louisiana’s participation in NASA EPSCoR. NASA EPSCoR administers two major competitions to eligible jurisdictions: The EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Development, or EPSCoR RID, program which focuses on broad infrastructure investment across the state, especially for new and emerging faculty researchers and the annual EPSCoR Research Cooperative Agreement Notice, or EPSCoR Research. Louisiana’s proposals to these NASA EPSCoR programs have been selected for funding.

“Reviewers on the selection committee consistently give us high marks for evidence of support at the state-level. The one to one cash matches from the Board of Regents make us highly competitive,” Guzik said.

The successful Louisiana EPSCoR RID proposal titled, “Developing Aerospace Research in Louisiana,” brings $375,000 of NASA funding into the state with a one to one match from the Board of Regents. The bulk of the $750,000 award pool will be dispersed to faculty researchers on campuses around the state on a competitive basis. The RID program offers three major funding opportunities, including the Travel Awards Program, or TAP, which supports travel for Louisiana researchers to meet and to interact with NASA scientists or engineers in order to establish new collaborative research projects; the Research Awards Program, or RAP, which provides small research grants to pursue projects that encourage collaborative ventures between state and NASA researchers; and the Summer Assisted Research, or SAR, program to help faculty at non-research intensive institutions engage in NASA research during the summer.

For the EPSCoR Research competition, NASA received 27 proposals and Louisiana was one of 15 selected for funding. The successful proposal titled, “Terrestrial Gamma Flash Production from Energetic Particle Acceleration in Lightning using TETRA-II,” brings in $750,000 from NASA over three years, also with a one to one match from the Board of Regents. The Science Principal Investigator is Michael Cherry, LSU Roy P. Daniels Professor of Physics and Department Chair. Cherry will lead a team of local researchers from three Louisiana universities including Ebrahim Khosravi and Shuju Bai from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Anderson Sunda-Meya from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans and J. Gregory Stacy and Jill Trepanier from LSU. The research involves measuring gamma-rays generated by thunderstorm lightning events from the ground with a distributed array of detectors, which complements observations like those made from the NASA Fermi satellite mission. The researchers then analyze or model the physical processes by high energy astrophysicists, climatologists, thunderstorm researchers, electrical engineers and computer scientists. The overall goal of this project is a new understanding of the formation and evolution of lightning producing storms that can become a part of climate models and predictive systems.


Additional Links
Louisiana Space Grant Consortium (LaSPACE): http://laspace.lsu.edu/
Louisiana NASA EPSCoR: http://lanasaepscor.lsu.edu/
Louisiana Board of Regents Sponsored Programs: http://regents.louisiana.gov/sponsored-programs/
NASA Space Grant College and Fellowship Program: www.nasa.gov/offices/education/programs/national/spacegrant/home/#.VXdAVEZURmM
NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR): www.nasa.gov/offices/education/programs/national/epscor/home/index.html#.VXdAf0ZURmM





Contact Colleen H. Fava
LaSPACE Manager
LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy