Wind turbine farm at sunset.

Giant National Science Foundation grants aim to revitalize underserved U.S. regions

Tara Hudiburg worries that she may be “out of her league” in vying for the most lucrative competitive grant the National Science Foundation (NSF) has ever awarded. But the forest ecologist at the University of Idaho may be underestimating herself. Last month her team’s proposal to build a “smart climate economy” in the five-state Columbia River basin was chosen as one of 34 semifinalists for NSF’s first five Regional Innovation Engine (RIE) grants to be awarded this fall.

The $160 million Engine grants are the flagship initiative of NSF’s new technology directorate. They are designed to broaden the agency’s traditional focus on fundamental research to include turning discoveries into new industries and training workers for the resulting high-tech jobs. The Engines are also supposed to improve economic conditions in what NSF describes as “those regions of America that have not fully participated in the technology boom of the past several decades.”

Read more