Sen. Jack Reed wins national award for support of science, engineering research

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KINGSTON, R.I. – February 23, 2009 – U.S. Senator Jack Reed will be honored Feb. 24 by a group of university research administrators for his support of two federally-funded programs designed to build nationwide science and engineering research capacity.

The award will be presented at the annual meeting of the Coalition of EPSCoR/IDeA States in Washington, D.C. Reed was nominated for the award by Peter Alfonso, vice president for research and economic development at the University of Rhode Island.

In Rhode Island, the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the Institutional Development Award Program (IDeA) are being used to increase the state’s level of scientific, technological, and innovation efforts by enhancing research infrastructure and capabilities and by enhancing workforce development through education programs. More than 20,000 people in Rhode Island are employed in research-related jobs, and more than 100 companies in the state are engaged in research-related activities.

EPSCoR and IDeA have brought more than $90 million in competitive awards to Rhode Island’s universities and their researchers since 2000.

“Senator Reed has provided extraordinary leadership in support of these programs, and his efforts have provided a much needed boost to economic development in the state and the research activities at URI, Brown University and Rhode Island’s other colleges and universities,” said Alfonso. “We are greatly appreciative of his support and dedication.”

Reed was instrumental in making Rhode Island’s universities eligible to compete for EPSCoR and IDeA funds at the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the departments of agriculture, defense and energy. Many researchers at Rhode Island universities and colleges and affiliated hospitals have benefited.

“I’d like to thank Dr. Alfonso for nominating me and Rhode Island’s scientific community. I am honored to receive this award and pleased to have secured federal funding to enhance scientific research and technology opportunities in Rhode Island and throughout the country. Scientific research is critical to the long-term strength of our economy and to the security of our nation,” said Reed. “Rhode Island has received over $90 million in EPSCoR and IDeA awards over the last several years to improve our research infrastructure, boost education, and bring new high-tech, science-related jobs to the state. These programs will help us maintain a competitive edge in today’s global marketplace and provide the basis for future economic growth.”

Reed will also continue to lead the fight for adequate funding for the Department of Defense DEPSCoR program. In response to criticisms from the Bush Administration, Reed successfully called for an independent assessment of the DEPSCoR program. The final report, released in December, said that DEPSCoR was a valuable program that provides local economic stimulus.

Funding by the National Institutes of Health IDeA programs have provided over $85 million to strengthen institutional biomedical capability and enhance health-related research infrastructure in Rhode Island. Funding by the National Science Foundation EPSCoR program provided over $6 million to enhance life science research infrastructure and education capabilities. Funding by the Department of Defense EPSCoR program provided $1 million for collaborative research with the Army and Navy.

In addition to its university activities, the Rhode Island NSF EPSCoR effort is closely linked with the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and reaches out to local science and engineering firms to build collaborations and create catalytic interactions that can lead to new innovations and companies. EPSCoR/IDeA funding is also helping to strengthen the training of future scientists and engineers who are employed by these companies.

The Coalition of EPSCoR/IDeA States presents its annual Recognition Award to Congressional members for their continued leadership and extraordinary support on behalf of the various EPSCoR and IDeA programs that aim to establish a robust national infrastructure in support of science and technology.