Earlier this spring, the EPSCoR/IDeA Foundation Board elected Prakash Nagarkatti as the new board chair for a term of two years. Through this prestigious new role, Nagarkatti will have the unique opportunity to help promote and steer national programs that support research in U.S. states and territories that have historically received less federal research and development funding.
The Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR program, was formed in 1979 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in response to concern over the uneven distribution of federal research and development grants. Following World War II, federally funded research grew dramatically but only a small number of states benefited from the infusion of resources. EPSCoR was designed to mitigate this unevenness and invest in ambitious researchers to cultivate the talent that originates in every state. It grew over the years, and now includes five federal agencies: NSF, Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense (DOD).
I have seen first-hand the major, positive impact that the EPSCoR and IDeA programs have on our research community throughout my time in South Carolina.
EPSCoR was followed in 1993 by a similar program for biomedical sciences, the Institutional Development Award Program, known as IDeA, which was created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Both the EPSCoR and IDeA programs aim to reduce funding disparities by offering competitive, merit-based programs designed to enhance the science, engineering and other technology capabilities of states like South Carolina that have historically been less competitive in the research and development arena. Since the establishment of the EPSCoR/IDeA programs, the funding has increased steadily from a few million dollars to ~$700 million dollars through bipartisan support in Congress over the years.
The EPSCoR/IDeA Foundation (EIF), created in 1995, supports the EPSCoR and IDeA missions by working to increase awareness, visibility and participation of the EPSCoR/IDeA states in the nation’s scientific and technological enterprise.
As a strong proponent of EPSCoR/IDeA programs in South Carolina, Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti has actively supported both programs for years, even hosting the NSF EPSCoR National Conference in Columbia, SC, in 2019. Through this work, Nagarkatti has earned a reputation as an excellent advocate for these vital federal programs, positioning him well to lead the EIF Board in the coming years. He currently serves as a Principal Investigator on both NSF EPSCoR and NIH IDeA-funded research centers. Dr. Nagarkatti also played a key role in changing the NSF eligibility criteria for states so that South Carolina remained EPSCoR eligible.
“I have seen first-hand the major, positive impact that the EPSCoR and IDeA programs have on our research community throughout my time in South Carolina,” Dr. Nagarkatti said. “I came to advocate for these important federal programs through my experiences leading EPSCoR grant projects, coordinating with our EPSCoR and IDeA teams as they work to train the next generation of scientists and getting to know the outstanding federal agency administrators who make these benefits possible. So, it is a great honor to have the opportunity to become even more deeply involved in making sure that other scholars get the most they can out of the EPSCoR and IDeA programs. I look forward to the challenge.”
EPSCoR/IDeA Foundation Executive Director Jessica Molesworth echoed Nagarkatti’s comments, saying, “Dr. Nagarkatti has a deep understanding of the EPSCoR/IDeA programs we support, and of the research communities that these vital programs help to expand through targeted investment. I can’t wait to see how Dr. Nagarkatti pushes our organization forward and helps us to reach more people in EPSCoR and IDeA jurisdictions to enhance innovation in every corner of the U.S.”
7 May 2021