MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

September 22, 2018

Grant funding a major source of revenue at Mayville State

We had the pleasure of hosting several representatives of North Dakota EPSCoR at Mayville State on Wednesday, Sept. 12. The group included Executive State Director Kelly A. Rusch, State Project Administrator Jean Ostrom-Blonigen, Communication Manager Joyce Eisenbraun, Tribal Colleges Liaison Manager and Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education (NATURE) Coordinator Scott Hanson, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Manager Paul Keidel.

The overall goal of the North Dakota Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (ND EPSCoR) is to increase the competitiveness of North Dakota for merit-based grants and contracts in support of research in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from federal funding agencies in an atmosphere that promotes leadership, teamwork, and the convergence of those sciences.

Funded through federal-state sector partnerships, ND EPSCoR manages a comprehensive research development plan. Potential federal EPSCoR/IDeA (NIH Institutional Development Award) partners include the Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

What does this have to do with Mayville State University? Research activity continues to be at the forefront for Mayville State faculty and students. Dr. Tom Gonnella, Dr. Joseph Mehus, and Dr. Khwaja Hossain all lead teams of student researchers who are conducting real-world research right here at Mayville State University, funded through federal-state sector partnerships.

For instance, Dr. Hossain and his team determined that wheat bran is an important and very inexpensive agricultural by-product. They prepared thermoplastic using wheat bran as a reinforcement and found it to have industrial uses, as it was an appropriate reinforcement in the polymers. The team is continuing to analyze the biodegradability of the prepared thermoplastic. Stay tuned for more exciting findings from this team!

The National Institutes of Health has funded large INBRE (IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence) grants for Mayville State projects over the last several years. Most recently, Dr. Khwaja Hossain secured $107,345 annually for five years. Dr. Tom Gonnella received $108,444 annually for five years, and Dr. Joseph Mehus received summer pilot funding of $25,000 per year for four years. With this funding nearly exhausted, each of these research leaders has submitted proposals for funding for the next five years. A number of other proposals are pending and could bring significant funding to the university.

We are extremely proud of these researchers, who all teach classes at Mayville State. They mentor student researchers and see that these students receive ongoing training within their areas of research. Many students have had an opportunity to present their research findings at state, national, and international conferences. Conducting this research is a unique and very valuable opportunity afforded our students.

Mayville State also secures grant funding from numerous other sources, which include various forms of federal, state, local, and private grants. A major source is the Department of Health and Human Services which provides just over $3 million annually for our Head Start programs. Other grant funding comes from Western and Eastern Area Health Education Network Collaborative, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Education, in addition to other agencies. In 2017, grants and contracts funding provided for 24.1% of Mayville State University’s total revenue. At the time, this was the highest percentage of grant funding across all North Dakota University System institutions.

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness, led by Allison Johnson, provides resources and support for faculty and staff who write proposals of all sizes and topics. The office maintains practices necessary to ensure integrity and the responsible conduct of grants and research for which the institution has been funded. We are grateful to Allison for her expertise and guidance in this function that is so important to Mayville State University and its students who are working to make a positive difference in the world through their research.