July 10, 2013

NM EPSCoR Begins New 5-Year RII-4 Grant

By Natalie Willougby Blog Posts

A new $20 mil­lion Exper­i­men­tal Pro­gram to Stim­u­late Com­pet­i­tive Research (EPSCoR) grant from the National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion will sup­port key research into ways to make New Mex­ico an energy suf­fi­cient state. The research will focus on ways to improve effi­ciency of sus­tain­able energy resource uti­liza­tion and to min­i­mize envi­ron­men­tal impacts of ura­nium min­ing and oil and gas production.

William Mich­ener, a pro­fes­sor with Uni­ver­sity Libraries at UNM, is the prin­ci­pal inves­ti­ga­tor along with UNM co-PI Mary Jo Daniel. Mich­ener will coor­di­nate research, edu­ca­tion and admin­is­tra­tion of the award. Participating insti­tu­tions and part­ners include New Mex­ico State Uni­ver­sity, New Mex­ico Tech, East­ern New Mex­ico Uni­ver­sity, New Mex­ico High­lands Uni­ver­sity, Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Col­lege, New Mex­ico Museum of Nat­ural His­tory and Sci­ence, The National Museum of Nuclear Sci­ence and His­tory, ¡Explora! Museum, Los Alamos National Lab­o­ra­tory, San­dia National Lab­o­ra­to­ries, the Santa Fe Insti­tute and the Global Cen­ter for Cultural Entrepreneurship.

“The main idea of this award is to build our state research capac­ity to develop the state’s poten­tial for sus­tain­able energy development through col­lab­o­ra­tions among acad­e­mia, busi­ness and indus­try and the National Labs,” Mich­ener said.

Research teams will explore ques­tions in sev­eral spe­cific areas including:

  • Bioal­gal energy devel­op­ment to sup­port the next gen­er­a­tion of bio­fuel production.
  • The poten­tial of solar energy to reduce car­bon diox­ide in the atmos­phere to methanol, an alter­na­tive trans­portable fuel, and design more effi­cient organic solar pho­to­voltaic cells.
  • Using geothermal research to develop a better understanding of factors that affect the viability and sustainability of NM’s underlying natural hydrothermal systems.
  • A social-science nexus project that considers interactions and feedbacks between the social and natural sciences in order to determine the sustainability and acceptability of energy production and use.
  • Issues related to using osmotic pres­sure sys­tems derived from oil and gas extraction as com­mer­cially viable sources of power.
  • Improve under­stand­ing of the way ura­nium moves in the envi­ron­ment and devel­op­ing tools for pre­dict­ing an con­trol­ling the movement.

“This new award builds on prior NM EPSCoR suc­cesses and will fos­ter greater edu­ca­tional achieve­ment in STEM fields and expand oppor­tu­ni­ties for employ­ment in well-paid jobs for New Mex­i­cans,” Daniel said.

The research teams have already been des­ig­nated and work on the grant began on June 1, 2013. For more infor­ma­tion, visit or contact Natalie Willoughby, Public Relations Specialist for NM EPSCoR.