Arkansas lands $20 million National Science Foundation grant

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,434 views 

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Science and Technology and its university partners recently won a National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NSF EPSCoR) Track-1 grant for $20 million to be awarded over five years.

The state of Arkansas will match the grant with an additional $4 million.

The project, “Data Analytics that are Robust and Trusted” (DART) will work to systematically investigate key aspects of three barriers to big data — management, security/privacy, and model interpretability — and develop novel, integrated solutions to address them.

Big data involves data sets that are too large or complex for traditional data-processing application software to process. NSF has identified data analytics and data science education as one of 10 priority areas for research funding.

“This award continues to validate the strides that Arkansas is making as the state transitions from a primarily agricultural economy to a more diverse, data-driven economy,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “Computer science education has been a priority in my administration from Day One because it affects every Arkansan, both producers and consumers. I’m proud of the many entities that are coming together to make this grant possible, and I can’t wait to see how the results of their research impact our economic bottom line.”

The project will start on July 1, 2020 and will end on June 30, 2025. It will have the largest footprint of any EPSCoR project in Arkansas, encompassing wide geographic and institutional diversity. It addresses three of the NSF’s Big 10 Ideas: Harnessing the data revolution, the future of work at the human technology frontier, and growing convergence research.

“We are thrilled to receive this research grant from the National Science Foundation and can’t wait to get started working with our academic partners,” Department of Commerce Secretary and AEDC Executive Director Mike Preston said. “Arkansas has several pockets of computer science excellence. What sets this project apart is that DART brings together some of the best talent at colleges throughout the state in an effort to leverage our strengths in the science and technology field and improve the quality and quantity of the state’s skilled workers in the industry.”

AEDC will administer the grant funds, working with nine colleges and universities throughout the state including Arkansas State University, Philander Smith College, Southern Arkansas University, Shorter College, the University of Arkansas, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and the University of Central Arkansas.

“This project is a great example of collaboration as researchers from various institutions come together to improve research capability and competitiveness in this jurisdiction through fundamental research in data science and engineering,” said NSF EPSCoR program manager Jeanne Small. “The project also contributes to one of the ‘10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments’: Harnessing The Data Revolution. The project aims to develop an innovative educational pathway to train the next generation of data scientists, and it has the potential to benefit the entire nation through advances in data analytics, big data management, and machine learning.”

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