NSF Track-1 Award

National Science Foundation (NSF)
EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 Awards:
2014-2020 NSF EPSCoR Track-1 Cooperative Agreement, Award Number 1355466
Principal Investigator (PI): Kelly A. Rusch, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE; NDSU
Co-PIs: John Mihelich, Ph.D.; UND and Jean Ostrom-Blonigen, Ph.D., CPA; ND EPSCoR

What is the Track-1?
Innovative and Strategic Program Initiatives for Research and Education-North Dakota (INSPIRE-ND)
, ND EPSCoR’s most recent NSF cooperative agreement, is a five-year cooperative agreement that carries an 80/20% federal/state match.[1]

Track-1 Impact
Building on strategic NSF and ND investments made since ND EPSCoR began, INSPIRE-ND is:

  • developing two new research platforms through the Center for Regional Climate Change (CRCS) and the Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS)
  • fostering critical research infrastructure, and
  • integrating research, education and human resources with workforce development initiatives to strengthen the state’s overall research competitiveness. The collective impact has been active involvement in research, outreach, education, and diversity activities throughout the state.

The 11 ND EPSCoR-participating institutions include one master's college/university (MCU), three primarily undergraduate institutions (PUI), five tribal colleges/universities (TCU) and two research universities (RU). Their participation in each Center is outlined below.

[1] Unlike a grant, a cooperative agreement is “a type of assistance award which may be used when the project being supported requires substantial agency involvement during the project performance period”. As a result, shown by the documents below, NSF has been substantially involved in the technical, managerial, and coordination activities of ND EPSCoR’s INSPIRE-ND project.

Track-1 Participants

Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS)

  • About CRCS: Global climate impacts both regional weather and agricultural productivity. Through modeling and simulation efforts, CRCS seeks to understand how climate impacts North Dakota hydrology, land health and use, biomass production, and human behavior, related to agriculture.
  • Participant Institutions:
    • Dickinson State University (DSU, located in Dickinson, ND)
    • North Dakota State University (NDSU, located in Fargo, ND)
    • Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College (NHSC, located in New Town, ND)
    • Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC, located in Belcourt, ND)
    • United Tribes Technical College (UTTC, located in Bismarck, ND)
    • University of North Dakota (UND, located in Grand Forks, ND)
    • Valley City State University (VCSU, located in Valley City, ND)

Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS)

  • About CSMS: CSMS seeks to advance discoveries of bio-based, sustainable materials that can replace petrochemicals in common materials and coatings. The research focuses on using ND agricultural products that can contribute to the state's economy, while finding new uses for these lower cost and renewable feedstocks that are environmentally considerate.   
  • Participant Institutions:
    • Cankdeska Cikana Community College (CCCC, located in Fort Totten, ND)
    • Mayville State University (located in Mayville, ND)
    • Minot State University (located in Mayville, ND)
    • North Dakota State University (NDSU, located in Fargo, ND)
    • Sitting Bull College (SBC, located in Fort Yates, ND)
    • University of North Dakota (UND, located in Grand Forks, ND)

Track-1 Research Programmatic Element Participants

The Track-1 Research Programmatic Element Participants include participants in:

  • Diversity
  • Education and Workforce Development
  • Partnerships, Collaborations and Communications


EPSCoR Track-1 History

Past: The National Science Foundation (NSF) established the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) in 1978. The name was updated in 2017 to the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. The program was designed in response to Congressional concerns about the geographic concentration of federal support for academic research and development outside of states that, like ND, traditionally have lacked strong university-based research efforts. The goal was to help these states compete more successfully for a portion of the federal academic budgets.

Present: Today there are a family of competitive merit-based programs at federal research and development agencies whose goal is to enhance STEM science and education along with supporting diversity and partnerships across the individual state jurisdictions. Since ND became eligible, ND EPSCoR has received over $63.5 million in NSF EPSCoR Track-1 awards, including $18.7 million in the current award.

Future: Through EPSCoR and the Institutional Development Award (IDeA), North Dakota is building a high-quality, university-based research effort that serves as the backbone of the state’s scientific and technological enterprise, ensuring a strong and stable economic base for the future.

Track-1 Strategic Plan

Track-1 Report Booklet

The ND EPSCoR Track-1 research booklet (2017) features participants and their research in the Center for Regional Climate Studies and the Center for Sustainable Materials Science under the current NSF EPSCoR Track-1 cooperative agreement.

Cover page image of the July 2017 Track-1 Research Report Booklet

Track-1 Researcher Documents

State Strategic Plan for Science & Technology in North Dakota:

Research Impacts

Year 5 (August 2018 - July 2019)

Year 4 (August 2017 - July 2018)

Year 3 (August 2016 - July 2017)

Year 2 (August 2015 - July 2016)

Year 1 (August 2014 - July 2015)


The Track-1 is a federal-state partnership to manage a comprehensive research development plan. ND EPSCoR manages the Track-1 award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Current funding is provided by the State of North Dakota and NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program Track-1 (RII Track-1) Cooperative Agreement Award OIA #1355466.