Kentucky's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (KY EPSCoR)

The Kentucky EPSCoR program builds research infrastructure to promote competitive research programs in Kentucky and increase the Commonwealth's allocation of federal research budgets. States and territories that receive comparatively small research distributions from the federal agencies are eligible to compete for EPSCoR awards to improve their research facilities and attract talented students and faculty working in cutting-edge scientific areas. The goal of KY NSF EPSCoR is to make their research investments “self-sustainable”-able to generate enough non-EPSCoR funding after an initial EPSCoR investment to continue research operations without continued EPSCoR support.

The Center for Computational Sciences (CCS) at the University of Kentucky (UK) is a great EPSCoR success story. The Center was started as a Center of Excellence by Governor Martha Layne Collins in 1987 and received some initial financial support through the KY National Science Foundation (NSF) EPSCoR Program. CCS continues to enable outstanding academic research in the Commonwealth to the present day, and does so without continued EPSCoR support.

The EPSCoR concept started as a small program at the National Science Foundation in the late 1970s. In the years that followed, the EPSCoR model was adopted by many other federal agencies. Kentucky first participated in the NSF EPSCoR program in 1985 when it was awarded a small planning grant. Today the Commonwealth has active awards from many of the federal agencies that have EPSCoR programs-NSF, NASA, DoD, DoE, USDA and the EPSCoR-like program for NIH known as IDEA. KY EPSCoR programs have secured about $350 million in research funding to date. More information about these Kentucky EPSCoR programs can be found at the Kentucky Statewide EPSCoR website:

A map of the EPSCoR-eligible states and territories is provided below. Click on the map to learn more about their EPSCoR programs and activities.

EPSCoR Map University of Alabama University of Arkansas University of Alaska University of Delaware University of Hawaii University of Idaho University of Kansas University of Kentucky Research Foundation Louisiana Board of Regents University of Maine Mississippi State University University of Montana University of Nebraska University and Community College System of Nevada University of New Hampshire University of New Mexico North Dakota State University Oklahoma State University University of Puerto Rico University of Rhode Island South Carolina Research Authority University of South Dakota University of Tennessee Space Insitute University of Vermont University of Virgin Islands West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission University of Wyoming

Read about KY NSF EPSCoR's RII Track1 award Link.

EPSCoR RII Track1 - Center for Computational Sciences

Kentucky's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research sponsored by the National Science Foundation (KY NSF EPSCoR) - RII Track 1

Kentucky NSF EPSCoR's start came by way of a small planning grant in 1985. Kentucky received its first Research Infrastructure Initiative (RII) award from NSF EPSCoR a year later. Until very recently, these RII awards (now referred to as “Track1” awards) were the only competitive EPSCoR program eligible jurisdictions could compete for. (“Track2” and “C2” NSF EPSCoR programs were created in 2008-2009 to address cyberinfrastructure in the EPSCoR jurisdictions.)

NSF EPSCoR allows eligible jurisdictions to submit a single Track1 proposal to support developing research infrastructure in their state/territory. The awards are typically for 3-5 years and do not run concurrently. KY NSF EPSCoR has received continuous support from the Track1 program since the mid 1980s and is operating under its seventh Track 1 award-a $17.5 million, five-year (2008-2013) award to develop materials research, ecological genomics and cyberinfrastructure in the Commonwealth. These research themes are detailed (the involved people/institutions, type of investments and proposed activities) on the KY NSF EPSCoR website (

Building competitive research programs means building collaborative programs with diverse participants. KY NSF EPSCoR also supports a number of outreach and diversity activities with its Track1 award. A Research Scholars Program that supports underrepresented student research ( and a partnership with an Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP) program ( are just a few examples of Track1 outreach and diversity activities. KY NSF EPSCoR is also supporting graduate students in the Computer Science program at Kentucky State University-Kentucky's only Historically Black College/University (HBCU).

EPSCoR investments are part of a strategic statewide plan to transform Kentucky into a competitive, knowledge-based economy enabled by strong academic research programs. The graph below shows the real growth (% of total) of the EPSCoR vs. non-EPSCoR jurisdictions in attracting federal research dollars. This chart demonstrates the positive impact of the EPSCoR programs (and Kentucky in particular) over the years.

Percentage of Total Federal Academic R&D Funding Growth of Kentucky and Other EPSCoR States

Data Source: NSF Survey of Federally Financed Academic R&D Expenditures at Universities and Colleges (

EPSCoR RII Track2 - Center for Computational Sciences

Kentucky's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research sponsored by the National Science Foundation (KY NSF EPSCoR) - RII Track 2

The EPSCOR track-2 program

In Kentucky the currently funded track-2 program is the VOEIS project.

The VOEIS project is in conjunction with the state of Montana's track-2 VOEIS project.

Kentucky, Montana Share $6 Million NSF Water-quality Grant
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 31, 2009)

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $6 million grant to Kentucky and Montana to support an advanced “cyberinfrastructure” project that includes a combination of hardware, software, networking, data storage, computational modeling and human resources.

The project will provide an end-to-end process from an integrated workflow of water-quality sensors in lakes and streams, through data management and models, to end points of three-dimensional visualizations. The information system, developed through this project and funded by NSF's EPSCoR program, will manage historical data, as well as vast amounts of new data generated by lake and stream sensor networks.