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Competitive research partnership confab held

Bruce Allison, professor of environmental sciences at Wesley College, and Steven Fifield, assistant professor of biological sciences at UD and internal evaluator for EPSCoR
4:53 p.m., Jan. 26, 2006--More than 100 faculty, students and National Science Foundation (NSF) officials converged at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute (DBI) in Newark on Monday, Jan. 23, for the first annual meeting of a life sciences partnership of the state’s institutions of higher education.

The Delaware Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is a $9 million, NSF-sponsored partnership of the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Delaware Technical and Community College and Wesley College.

"We look at ourselves as a comprehensive network," Stephen Borleske, associate director of DBI and Delaware EPSCoR director, said. "That’s why we are funded--because this is a novel approach."

EPSCoR is designed to build an infrastructure of persons, programs and equipment and to develop a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration around research in complex environmental systems and ecosystem health. Through such infrastructure development, researchers in the state will be able to compete more successfully for federal grants and contribute broadly to national science initiatives.

“Networking is key to the short- and long-term success,” Bruce Allison, professor of environmental sciences at Wesley College, said during a poster exhibition session. “In fact, I met some new contacts today. Each time you come to a meeting, no matter how big or small it is, you help EPSCoR grow.”

Maria Labreveux, assistant professor of plant science at Delaware State University, said EPPSCoR has created new opportunities for collaboration, including student exchange and a convergence of resources and expertise.

“It has gone beyond the financial and monetary consideration,” Labreveux said. “It’s created a conscience: ‘It’s for EPSCoR, so we have to do it.’ I am very impressed because the amount of money that researchers receive is not that much, but this program has created the opportunity to share what we have and do even more.”

Article by Martin Mbugua
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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