U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. John Carney have announced a total of $20 million in National Science Foundation funding for four Delaware colleges and universities to invest in science education and research, with an emphasis on the effects of sea-level rise and soil contamination. Renewable energy technologies and workforce development will also be studied. The University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Wesley College and Delaware Technical Community College will work collaboratively on the project.
“This grant award from the National Science Foundation will allow Delaware’s universities to continue to study and research the environmental impacts of the ever-changing landscape of Delaware,” Carper said. “It will also help research alternative energy sources, such as offshore wind, which can be harnessed off our coasts. This is another good step in understanding how the changing climate and human impacts on the land affect our environment now and for many years to come.”
“Delaware’s academic institutions are known for innovative research and cutting-edge science,” Coons said. “This grant recognizes the quality of that work and its importance to our state and our nation. While sea-level rise is generally seen as a coastal problem, the resulting soil contamination will amplify and extend its impacts in ways that need to be assessed and addressed. This work is important, and by training Delaware’s best and brightest in this area of science, we’re investing in our state’s long-term stability."
“As a low-lying coastal state, Delaware has a particular interest in the changing environment and the improvement and use of alternative energy sources,” Carney said. “This grant from the National Science Foundation will allow some of the most informed experts from across the state to study these issues and provide recommendations on how to address environmental changes in a way that best serves our communities. I look forward to seeing the results of their work.”
According to the National Science Foundation, Delaware’s project will focus on water quality and renewable energy use in vulnerable coastal areas subject to pressures from land use and climate changes. The research employs natural, physical and social science approaches to examine the effects of rising sea level on the cycling of soil-bound contaminants and coupled land use and climate change impacts on water and natural systems ranging from tidal wetlands to agricultural land to densely populated and polluted urban areas. Novel sensors will be developed for environmental monitoring. The project will also address renewable energy including offshore wind.
The University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Wesley College and Delaware Technical Community College will collaboratively address these themes using innovative research approaches and educational programs. The project includes public outreach activities and partnerships with private industry and government.
The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research program is designed to fulfill the foundation's mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide. Twenty-eight states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam are currently eligible to participate. Through the program, NSF establishes regional partnerships with government, higher education and industry that effect lasting improvements in a state's or territory's research infrastructure, and research and development capacity, and hence, its academic competitiveness.
Projects in Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma will each also receive $20 million grants.