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2019 Nevada Space Grant and NASA EPSCoR Statewide Meeting

The 2019 Nevada Space Grant and NASA EPSCoR Statewide Meeting will be held April 26, 2019 at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Statewide Meeting will include oral and poster presentations featuring research results of Nevada NASA EPSCoR and Nevada NASA Space Grant funded projects. Registration is required by April 15, 2019.

Frederick C. Harris, Jr. selected as Nevada NSF EPSCoR Project Director

Nevada NSF EPSCoR announces the new Project Director, Dr. Frederick C. Harris, Jr. Following an internal statewide NSHE search, the Research Affairs Council along with Vice Chancellor Constance Brooks approved the appointment of Dr. Harris, who will take on the role of Project Director while continuing his work at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

As the Project Director, Dr. Harris will lead the current National Science Foundation (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Track-1 (NEXUS) project. In addition, he will serve as lead Principal Investigator (PI) on the new proposal that is under development for the next cycle of Track-1 (2020-2025) funding. The current Track-1 project began in June 2013, as a five-year cooperative agreement with an annual renewal process and has been extended through 2019. The total award is $20 million with a state match requirement of $4 million.

Dr. Harris has extensive experience with NSF EPSCoR. He has been part of three Track-1 projects and two Track-2 projects. His leadership positions in these projects have helped him understand the purpose and structure of the EPSCoR programs and enabled him to collaborate with researchers across the state and the western United States. He has also represented Nevada’s Track-1 program at various national meetings and has been invited on multiple occasions to travel to Washington D.C. to present on his research and the state EPSCoR goals at NSF and the U.S. Senate.

He received his PhD in Computer Science from Clemson University. He has been involved as PI, Co-PI, and Senior Personnel on grants from NSF, NASA, ONR, DOD, and DARPA, totaling more than $50 million. He has over 50 journal publications and more than 180 full paper peer refereed conference publications, collaborating with over 300 co-authors. Dr. Harris has led collaborative research efforts throughout his career and looks forward to increasing this type of research across our state as the new NSF EPSCoR Project Director.

Nevada Space Grant Highlight: Joy Immak, UNLV

Multiple regulatory inputs control type three secretion in the bacterial pathogen Shigella flexneri. The goal of this project is to understand transcriptional regulation used by the bacterial pathogen, Shigella flexneri, to control the secretion of effector proteins via the type three secretion system (T3SS) needle. This analysis is important because many bacterial pathogens use the T3SS to inject effector proteins into a human host cell to cause disease. Despite rigorous attempts to maintain a clean room for spacecraft assembly, Shigella flexneri and other bacterial pathogens have been found in air samples obtained at the Johnson Space Center. I hope that my findings can be used to develop novel therapeutics and/or a more effective live-attenuated S. flexneri vaccine.
This project peaked my interest in how bacterial pathogens respond to external signals found within the host environment. The NASA funding provided me with the rare opportunity to focus solely on my research. Altogether, this experience has reinforced my drive to continue academic research pursuits after I graduate.

Nevada Space Grant Highlight: Hung M. La, Huy X. Pham, and David Feil-Seifer, UNR

Collaborative Control of Multiple UAVs for Wildfire Tracking and Monitoring. According to the U.S. Forest Service, an annual average of 70,000 wildfires burn approximately 7 million acres of land and destroy more than 2,600 structures. Wildland firefighting is dangerous and a lack of information is one of the main causes of accidents. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) provide situational awareness of wildfire scenes because they can augment hazardous fire-tracking activities and significantly save operational costs. The UNR team, lead by Dr. Hung La, developed a distributed control framework for a team of UAVs to monitor wildfire in open space and precisely track its development. The UAVs are designed for flexible deployment and to effectively avoid in-flight collisions and cooperate well with other UAVs. Each UAV self-learns and adjusts its altitude to provide optimal coverage of an unknown field. The proposed controller was tested in simulation (Figures 1 & 2) and on an AR2 drone using a motion capture system in the Advanced Robotics and Automation (ARA) Lab.

Nevada Space Grant Highlight: Michael Founds, DRI

Risk Mapping Salt Mobilization and Mitigation Strategy Evaluation for Rangelands. Although rangeland covers the majority of the western United States, the impact of management practices on rangeland erosion is not well understood. Our team developed a risk mapping process to identify areas where disproportionate amounts of erosion occur within the Upper Colorado River Basin. Our approach leveraged NASA remote sensing and National Resource Inventory datasets to parameterize the Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model. The results predict erosion rates over large basins.

Nevada Space Grant Highlight: Scott Forer, UNR

Monopolistic Behaviors in Unmanned Airspace. During my graduate studies at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), under Dr. Yliniemi, I worked on a model enhancement to include more realistic unmanned airspace flight patterns for NASA’s Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system. The current methods for modeling multiple subsystems of autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) do not account for competitive markets. By making modifications to an existing multi-UAV model, we investigated different behavioral interactions between the multiple subsystems and showed how competitive behaviors affect each subsystem.

Vacancy: NSF EPSCoR Project Director

Vacancy: NSF EPSCoR Project Director

The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) invites applications for the position of National Science Foundation EPSCoR Project Director.

Job Description
The project director plays a vitally important role to plan and implement National Science Foundation (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) programs in Nevada. This position leads the five-year RII Track-1 project with a budget of $20 million in federal funding and $4 million in state match. This position requires leadership in engaging multiple research-intensive institutions and a diverse array of undergraduate institutions, and facilitating collaborative research among dozens of research faculty, postdocs and graduate students. Regular travel (statewide, regional, and national) is required.

  • Associate Professor level or executive administrator and a current faculty member of an NSHE research institution (UNR, UNLV, or DRI) – full professors will be given preference;
  • A Ph.D. in a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) or related field;
  • A distinguished publication record in refereed scientific literature;
  • Demonstrated success in obtaining peer-reviewed, competitive research funding from federal government agencies, particularly the National Science Foundation (NSF);
  • Demonstrated experience in managing large multi‐institutional research programs and teams;
  • Experience serving on scientific, peer‐review panels or as Program Officer/Manager of a federal agency overseeing research programs;
  • Experience with NSF as a Principal Investigator, as an NSF employee, or in leading an NSF program.  The individual should not be conflicted in working on an NSF program based on current job assignments;
  • Experience working with multiple research-intensive institutions;
  • Must not have significant research participation on an NSF EPSCoR Track-1 project while in the role of PD;
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including ability to lead a diverse group across multiple disciplines;
  • Ability to represent the project as a whole and all institutions involved rather than one’s home institution;
  • Strong communication skills to broader audiences;
  • Evidence of diversity and inclusion activities;
  • Ability to work with off‐site personnel statewide;
  • Must have own transportation and ability to travel via car and airplane; and
  • Strong team management skills and the ability to build consensus.
  • If candidate holds an academic appointment, it is preferable that he/she be tenured or equivalent;
  • Working knowledge of NSF programs, especially NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) programs;
  • Working knowledge of the nation’s STEM education and workforce training directions and priorities;
  • Working knowledge of state‐wide capabilities and directions in research and STEM education; and
  • Working knowledge of state priorities for economic development as identified in the Science and Technology Plan and the State Economic Development Plan.

The mission of NSF EPSCoR is to advance excellence in science and engineering research and education in order to achieve sustainable increases in research, education, and training capacity and competitiveness that will enable EPSCoR jurisdictions to have increased engagement in areas supported by NSF.

The Nevada EPSCoR office currently administers Nevada’s NSF EPSCoR Track‐1 Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) award. In addition, a new proposal is under development for the next cycle of Track‐1 (2020-2025) funding. The current Track‐1 project began in June 2013, as a new five‐year cooperative agreement with an annual renewal/reporting process and has been extended through 2019. The total award is $20 million with a state match requirement of $4 million.

The Project Director will report to his/her institutional supervisor (at UNR, UNLV, or DRI). This position requires direct communications with the Director of the System Sponsored Programs and Nevada EPSCoR Office. The NSHE Research Affairs Council (RAC) will provide performance evaluation feedback to the institutional supervisor annually. The Project Director will work with the staff of the Nevada EPSCoR office, the NSHE Research Affairs Council (as applicable) and NSHE faculty to accomplish the tasks listed below.


  • As per NSF requirements, the Project Director is the lead PI on NSF EPSCoR Track-1 awards, providing financial, reporting, and evaluation oversight.
  • Aligns system-wide NSF EPSCoR program activities with state and national priorities in STEM research and education. These priorities will target research development, economic development and workforce development priorities for the state and NSF.
  • Engages and develops advisory committees (e.g., project external advisory committee) that will help guide program processes.
  • Engages and effectively communicates with Nevada representatives on the EPSCoR Coalition and Foundation Boards.
  • Engages with and effectively communicates with the Vice Presidents for Research at DRI, UNLV and UNR. Works closely with the NSHE Research Affairs Council.
  • Engages the science PIs on implementation of Track-1 NSF EPSCoR projects.
  • Works with the NSF EPSCoR Project Administrator to ensure timely reporting to demonstrate progress toward and meeting of Track-1 project goals and objectives.
  • Effectively communicates with faculty and researchers at DRI, UNLV and UNR in building consensus related to projects and proposals.
  • Reports on the state-wide and the national program’s efforts and outcomes to Nevada’s elected officials (e.g., Governor’s office, Senator’s offices and Nevada’s congressional delegation).
  • Works effectively with the NSHE System Sponsored Programs and EPSCoR Office in Las Vegas associated with the NSF EPSCoR program.
  • Facilitates the selection of research focal areas and leads the development of NSF EPSCoR Track-1 proposals.


  • Budgets: Works with Project Administrator to ensure fiscal integrity of Track-1 funds and spending.
  • Evaluation: Provides oversight for retrieving, organizing, and synthesizing information for evaluation requirements; works with external evaluator.
  • Programming: Ensures efficient and effective processes for resource allocation and program reporting.

Represent and Serve:

  • Represents Nevada’s Track1- program to the national NSF EPSCoR program, the NSHE Board of Regents, all NSHE institutions, the NSHE Research Affairs Council, Nevada’s economic development community, Nevada’s State and Federal legislative delegation, and other NSF EPSCoR partners (e.g., the local school districts) as needed. These duties include annual NSF EPSCoR meetings in Alexandria, Virginia, as well as other meetings across the country.
  • Actively promotes the success of the NSF EPSCoR program within and outside Nevada, including developing promotional materials such as posters and presentations.

The newly appointed Project Director will co-Lead the NSF EPSCoR Track-1 (Nexus) project at 40% FTE with the current Project Director (Gayle Dana; at 40% FTE) from October 15, 2018 to December 31, 2018. Starting January 1, 2019, the new Project Director will spend 40% of his or her time, on a 12-month basis (renewable and contingent on funding), as the sole lead of NSF EPSCoR Track-1 activities. Upon receipt of a new RII Track 1 project, (estimated 2020-2025), FTE may increase to 60% per year (renewable and contingent on funding). During the term of the appointment, salary may be provided from both federal funds and special projects match and subawarded to the home institution. The remaining 60% salary is provided by the successful applicant’s home institution for teaching, administrative and/or research at that institution. The successful applicant for this position is expected to begin work on or about October 15, 2018.

The Project Director serves at the pleasure of the NSHE Research Affairs Council. The Council will provide performance feedback to the individual’s institutional supervisor for the purpose of annual performance evaluations. The Council may terminate this appointment at any time upon a majority vote of the Council that termination of the appointment is in the best interest of the EPSCoR program. Following any such termination of the appointment, the faculty member will return to his/her home institution full-time and any portion of the faculty member’s salary associated with the appointment shall cease. The faculty member, in consultation with his/her home institution shall be solely responsible for obtaining alternate funding to offset the portion of his/her salary associated with the appointment. This appointment is a temporary assignment and faculty members shall not have any vested interest in the salary or assigned duties associated with the appointment.

Applications may be submitted until position is filled; however, to ensure full consideration, applications should be submitted by September 14, 2018 by 5:00 pm.

Application packets should be e-mailed directly to NSHE SPO/EPSCoR Director Marcie Jackson at

Subject line should read: [Applicant First Name_Last Name]_NSF EPSCoR PD.

For questions or assistance, please contact Marcie Jackson at (702) 522-7079. An email will be sent to confirm receipt of your application by COB on September 14, 2018.

Applications must include:

  • A Letter detailing interest in the position, including a complete description of relevant qualifications and work experience, and how his/her skillset and experience meet the requirements as set forth for the position per the areas described above under the Leadership, Management, and Represent and Serve Responsibilities (no more than six pages total);
  • A curriculum vita with publication list; and
  • Three professional letters of recommendation; one letter must be from your immediate supervisor at your current institution.

2019 Nevada NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Program

Nevada System of Higher Education Announcement

Nevada NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Program

Researchers should start forming preliminary teams now!


The Opportunity

Nevada will be eligible to submit a new proposal to the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), Research Infrastructure Improvement Program Track-1 (RII Track-1) program in 2019. NSF limits EPSCoR-eligible states to a single RII Track-1 proposal submission. Therefore, the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) will conduct a pre-proposal competition to assist NSHE in identifying the pre-proposal most likely to result in an award under NSF’s 2019 competition.

NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 awards

RII Track-1 awards provide up to $4 million per year for up to five years. They are intended to increase the research competitiveness of jurisdictions by improving their academic research infrastructure in areas of science and engineering supported by NSF and critical to the jurisdiction’s science and technology plan. NSF EPSCoR’s website has more details on the Track-1 program, the most recent solicitation, and active awards.

Finalized Theme Requirements

The proposed research theme must be of national importance and have the best potential to improve Nevada’s future research and development competitiveness. As determined by the NSHE Research Affairs Council and the Nevada EPSCoR Advisory Committee, proposed research topics must have these features:

  • alignment with priorities in the 2015 NSHE Science and Technology Plan;
  • alignment with current scientific and engineering grand challenges, either NSF’s Big Research Ideas[1] or NSF-relevant grand challenges put forth by other agencies or entities;
  • topics funded by NSF’s regular programmatic and cross-cutting areas; and
  • leverage the strengths of all NSHE research institutions.

Alignment with NSF’s Big Process Ideas[2] is desirable but not required.

More details on the research theme will be announced in the Request for Pre-Proposals, which will be released in mid-August 2018. Submitted pre-proposals will be peer-reviewed and one pre-proposal will be selected to move forward to full proposal development starting in January 2019. Proposal submission to NSF is expected to be in late July 2019.

What can NSHE researchers do now?

In preparation for submitting a pre-proposal, NSHE researchers should start discussions and form preliminary teams now to develop concepts, research questions, and expected impacts on strategic research topics. Since this is a statewide program, teams should be well represented with researchers from UNLV, UNR, and DRI. Working as an integrated team is essential!

Discussion Forum     Interested in joining or starting a team? Connect with researchers from other institutions through posts on the Discussion Forum.

For more information please contact:  Gayle Dana, Nevada NSF EPSCoR Project Director & State EPSCoR Director;   530-414-3170

Draft Timeline 

Pre-proposal solicitation released mid August 2018
Pre-proposal workshop early September 2018
Letter of Intent due October 1, 2018
Pre-proposals due mid November 2018
External review completed early January 2019
Winning pre-proposal selected early January 2019
Full proposal development begins mid January 2019
Solicitation released by NSF early May 2019*
Proposal due to NSF July 31, 2019*
Notification of Awards Spring 2020
Awards made Summer 2020


[1] NSF’s Big Research Ideas: 1) Harnessing the Data Revolution; 2) The Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier; 3) Navigating the New Arctic; 4) Windows on the Universe: The Era of Multi-Messenger Astrophysics; 5) The Quantum Leap: Leading the Next Quantum Revolution; 6) Understanding the Rules of Life: Predicting Phenotype

[2] NSF’s Big Process Ideas: 1) Mid-scale Research Infrastructure; 2) NSF 2026; 3) Growing Convergence Research; 4) NSF INCLUDES

Request for Proposals: Analysis of Nevada’s State and Institutional Research Strengths

Request for Proposals

Analysis of Nevada’s State and Institutional Research Strengths

The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) will be submitting a proposal to the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 program in summer 2019. To strategically inform the selection of a research theme for the proposal, NSHE is seeking an analysis of its state and institutional research strengths so that the Track-1 proposal builds on the existing strengths and critical mass of expertise.  Submission Deadline:  6/25/18 by 5:00 pm PST.


EPSCoR was started in 1978 to assist NSF in its statutory function “to strengthen research and education in science and engineering throughout the United States and to avoid undue concentration of such research and education.” EPSCoR goals are to provide strategic programs and opportunities for EPSCoR participants that stimulate sustainable improvements in their R&D capacity and competitiveness, and to advance science and engineering capabilities in EPSCoR jurisdictions for discovery, innovation and overall knowledge-based prosperity. Nevada has been an EPSCoR jurisdiction since 1985.

NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 awards provide up to $4 million per year for up to five years. They are intended to improve the research competitiveness of jurisdictions by improving their academic research infrastructure in areas of science and engineering supported by the NSF and critical to the particular jurisdiction’s science and technology initiative or plan.

As per the NSF EPSCoR Track-1 FY18 solicitation, submitting states must describe the status of their academic R&D enterprise, including the strengths, barriers, and opportunities for development of the academic institutions in support of overall R&D objectives. The state must provide a convincing rationale for the project’s scientific vision and indicate how the overall strategy, proposed implementation mechanisms, and infrastructure support will mitigate the identified barriers and improve academic research competitiveness. The state must also explicitly describe the alignment of the proposed research with the STEM research priorities of the jurisdiction S&T Plan.

NSHE includes three research institutions which participate in the Track-1 program. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) is an urban research institution with 30,000 students and $66M in research expenditures in FY17. The University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) is a land-grant institution with 20,000 students and $106M in research expenditures in FY17. The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is a soft-money research institution with $36M in research expenditures in FY17.


NSHE is seeking an analysis to identify in what areas and along what dimensions the state and its institutions have research strengths so that the Track-1 proposal builds on the existing strengths and critical mass of expertise at the three institutions. We are ultimately seeking to select one or more research themes that meets the following criteria:

And ideally,

To inform the selection of the best research area for the Track-1 proposal, the following analyses are requested.

  1. Mapping of DRI, UNLV, and UNR common research strengths.
  2. Mapping of the above common research strengths against NSHE’s 2015 S&T Plan research priorities, NSF’s fundable areas, and NSF’s 10 Big Ideas.
  3. For each overlapping area of strength and the priorities noted in #2, please provide the performance indicators and top research faculty at each institution (DRI, UNLV, and UNR).


Deliverables include the following:

  • A report that summarizes the analysis methods used and the key results in graphic and tabular format with a narrative describing the key points.
  • A meeting, via Webex online, with NSHE’s Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, Vice Chancellor for Government and Community Affairs, Vice Presidents for Research, EPSCoR Office Director, and the NSF EPSCoR Project Director to explain the results of the analysis.

Proposal Format

The proposal should not exceed 10 pages.  Please include the following items in the proposal:

  • Name and contact information for lead on this proposal.
  • A brief description of organizational background in this area.
  • Identify personnel who will produce this report and their expertise or experience in generating reports of this nature.
  • The methodology and data sets used to create the report.
  • The total cost of creating the report and meeting with the Nevada team, not to exceed $25,000.
  • Examples of previously created similar reports may be included as attachments along with references or client lists.


Deadline for submitting proposal to NSHE June 25, 2018
Contract in place July 3, 2018
Report due to NSHE July 31, 2018
Online meeting to discuss results Week of August 6, 2018


Proposals must be submitted to Marcie Jackson at by 5:00 p.m. PST on June 25, 2018.

For questions on content of the report:
Gayle Dana
NSF EPSCoR Project Director
530-414-3170 cell (best)
775-674-7538 work

For questions on submission requirements of the proposal:
Marcie Jackson
Director, System Sponsored Programs & EPSCoR