USAID and NSF award research and education grants to support U.S. and developing country university collaborations

For Immediate Release

Friday, January 11, 2013
USAID Press Office


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) Science program, announced today the award of nearly $500,000 in competitive grant funding to support two research projects in India and one in Mexico.

These grants are part of two new United States National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) grants totaling $9.3 million, which provide support to U.S. scientists working in collaboration with research teams across the world to help address some of the world’s most pressing development challenges. 

“The complex challenges facing the world today cannot be solved solely by scientists from one country, but require the diverse expertise of global research teams,” said Dr. Alex Dehgan, Science and Technology Adviser to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah.  “The USAID and NSF partnership is a key tool for building more equitable partnerships among scientists from developing and developed countries to approach research and development challenges in new and innovative ways. Not only will these researchers address multidisciplinary problems such as sustainable urban development and biofuel production, they will do so working together to craft unique and field-based solutions, building significant bridges among universities and research institutes.”

USAID will complement the collaborative research through PEER Science awards to developing country scientists who are part of these teams to help both agencies better advance scientific knowledge and build scientific and engineering capacity both in the U.S. and abroad. 

For example, Dr. Kathleen Halvorson, Professor of Natural Resource Policy in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University, is receiving a four-year, $4.84 million NSF PIRE grant to lead an international research team that will examine the impact of water, energy, biodiversity, and biofuels on communities, with an eye toward developing practical measures that community leaders can use.

The team includes American scientists from Auburn University, the University of New Hampshire, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, the University of Oregon, Northern Arizona University, SUNY College of Environmental Studies and Forestry, and Purdue University.  Also collaborating on the project is Dr. Julio Sacramento-Rivero from the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan, Mexico, who received a $150,000 PEER Science grant from USAID. 

In another partnership, Dr. Anu Ramaswami from the University of Minnesota was awarded a four-year, $4.45 million NSF PIRE grant to design, compare, and contrast the development of sustainable and healthy cities in the U.S. and Asia.  USAID is complementing this investment with PEER Science grants totaling more than $340,000 to collaborating partners at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, ICLEI-South Asia, and the Resource Optimization Initiative-India.  This project will be conducted in collaboration with U.S. researchers from Yale University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado-Denver, and the National Academy of Engineering, as well as international researchers from Tongji and Tsinghua Universities in China and the Chinese Academy of Sciences-Institute for the Urban Environment. Together, the PIRE team will explore the impact of economic development, water scarcity, environmental pollution, climate change, and public health on urbanization.

Praising the NSF/USAID collaboration, Dr. DeAndra Beck, Program Director for Global Initiatives at the NSF, said “International partnerships are essential to addressing critical science and engineering problems. The PIRE and PEER Science Programs support quality projects in which advances in research and education could not occur without international collaboration.  We couldn’t be more pleased.”