EPSCoR - Montana NSF

INSTEP 2 (2007-2011)
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This proposal is focused on two new research areas. The overarching goal of the first focus area is to build on existing expertise and enhance synergy across Montana’s university research centers and groups to develop a statewide program that has as its umbrella theme, Hydrogen and the Environment, (HE) with an emphasis on metal ion transformations in the environment, their role in biological processes including hydrogen metabolism, and utilizing this for design of synthetic biomimetic systems for hydrogen production. A three-phase research program is outlined that includes discovery, understanding, and applications. Scientists and engineers in the Montana University System (MUS) have active, nationally recognized, research programs in the role of metals in extreme environments, the role of metals in enzymatic hydrogen catalysis, and the biomimetic synthesis of nanocatalysts for hydrogen production. The goal is to create a research, education, and outreach program that will reach the highest level of national competitiveness through large center funding and to contribute knowledge, understanding and applications for hydrogen production.

The second focus area is Large River Ecosystems (LRE), which examines the headwaters of the Columbia and Missouri Rivers, which both originate in Montana. The Columbia and Missouri headwaters are environmental sources rich in opportunity, unique in prospects, and unlike anywhere else in the nation. The overall scientific goal is to use these large river systems as natural laboratories to understand how natural mountain hydrology responds to climate change and human modifications (e.g., dams). The LRE focus area seeks to coalesce statewide research activities into a coherent statewide effort to position researchers to compete for multi-investigator awards. The foundation of the EPSCoR investment in the LRE is to overcome limitations in river science research and build strong academic and technological partnerships to enable this regional and national thrust area to grow capacity and expand effectiveness. The goal is to create an integrated program that will be competitive for external, multi-investigator funding and lay the foundation for future development into a major scientific center.