Nearly every year for the past 30 years, Kansas NSF EPSCoR has supported faculty across the state to help them compete nationally for research dollars.

For example, we have awarded more than 120 assistant professors seed grants called First Awards to jumpstart novel research in our state. Many of these award recipients have gone on to win prestigious federal grants and achieve national recognition—two key metrics of the program’s success.

This year we are delighted to see that K-State biologist Sonny Lee has received a $900,703 National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program award, known as a CAREER award, to study the interaction between plants and their soil microbiomes in the face of environmental change, especially drought. The award also supports outreach efforts with citizen scientists. Learn more.

Dr. Lee was awarded a First Award in 2020 as part of the MAPS project, which is funded by a Track-1 award from the NSF Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

Two more assistant professors who are funded by the ARISE project, launched by Kansas NSF EPSCoR in 2023, also received similar funding awards this year. KU Assistant Professor Justin Hutchison won an NSF CAREER Award, to study thermal proteome profiling applications for in-situ bioreporting of contaminant degradation in soils. WSU Assistant Professor Hongsheng He won an NSF CAREER Award to study context-aware task-oriented dexterous robotic manipulation,

As one of the most prestigious awards a junior faculty member can receive, it’s nice to see so many Kansas faculty members compete nationally for these highly selective opportunities. 

Sonny Lee

K-State biologist Sonny Lee