BATON ROUGE—Today, the LSU Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research announced $1.1 million in faculty research grants to 33 different projects in support of sustained strategic priorities for the university and for Louisiana. Ranging from the discovery of new antibiotics to underground storage of hydrogen, a low-carbon alternative to oil and gas, to how to effectively remove so-called ”forever chemicals” from drinking water and the environment, the funded research projects involve 77 faculty across eight colleges and schools on LSU’s flagship campus in Baton Rouge. This is the largest LSU investment in seed funding for faculty research in university history.
Launched in 2022, the Provost’s Fund supports interdisciplinary research in five priority areas, also known as the LSU Pentagon, which includes agriculture, biomedicine and biotechnology, coast and environment, defense and cybersecurity and energy—key economic drivers for Louisiana based on existential needs—across every discipline, department, college and program.
The goal of the Provost’s Fund is to provide seed funding to help faculty implement Scholarship First, a key objective of LSU President William F. Tate IV, and transform new ideas into successful and nationally competitive research programs that are likely to attract external support and federal funding to Louisiana. LSU formally announced its Scholarship First Agenda in March 2022.
“I am very pleased to provide more than $1.1M in support to 33 research development projects with 77 faculty members spanning across LSU,” said LSU Executive Vice President and Provost Roy Haggerty. “As a result of this investment, in the coming years, these faculty will bring in external funding and recognition worth many times this initial investment, and will help lift LSU to the next level of research, scholarship and creative activity to benefit all of Louisiana.”
“Helping the Provost’s Office in managing these awards aligns with our mission to elevate the research experience for all faculty at the university,” said LSU Interim Vice President of Research & Economic Development Robert Twilley. “LSU is the best place to do research in some of the most-needed areas, and this round of seed funding for faculty is a great example of how we advance the research enterprise by investing in our people.”
The Provost’s Fund has established two seed funding programs for faculty: Emerging Research Grants, which typically involve a single investigator, as well as Big Idea Research Grants for interdisciplinary research teams. The Big Idea awards are categorized into Phase 1 with $10,000 grants to help researchers get organized; Phase 2 with $75,000 grants to develop preliminary data and create a long-term research agenda; and Phase 3 with $250,000 grants to develop large, center-scale grant proposals and gain national recognition of research results.
In the current round of funding, more than half of the researchers who applied to the program received awards.
“LSU’s seed-fund makes reality of faculty dreams in scholarship, empowers rising scientists and brings upcoming NASA solicitations of up to 1 billion dollars within our reach,” said LSU Department of Geology & Geophysics Associate Professor Suniti Karunatillake, who brings together 17 researchers from three LSU colleges and beyond to develop a Martian glacier mission concept in line with NASA’s recently established Moon to Mars, or M2M, program. “Our project will bridge key knowledge gaps in planetary exploration, including how to grow food in resource-restricted environments on Earth and Mars, and enable LSU to defend American leadership in space.”
In addition to seed-funding for research, the Provost’s Fund also supports dissemination of research, such as through travel, talks and conferences and research infrastructure improvements, including equipment repair. While many of the projects fall within a priority area, several span multiple priority areas.