Return: Research

Another highly successful area of Space Grant growth has been research infrastructure development. The amount of NASA funding for this enterprise is small, yet the effects of the funding have been significant. For the four year period 1991-1994, Space Grant faculty and students obtained funding for over 300 research proposals. The total dollars won with these proposals in 1993 and 1994 exceeded $50 million. Space Grant research programs include both graduate and undergraduate students.

Capability Enhancement state consortia have the option of providing a limited amount of funds for faculty research fellowships. The following anecdotes illustrate the impact of the Space Grant program at typically non-research intensive institutions.
In our first funding year, we made a research enhancement grant
to Professor Ken Nordtvedt of the Physics Department at Montana
State University. Dr. Nordtvedt is one of the leading scientists in the
world in the study of how one tests relativistic theories of gravity.
He is a senior researcher. After enjoying NASA support for his work
throughout the 1970's, Ken lost all research funding for a period of
6 years in the early 80's when he served three terms in our state
legislature. Subsequent to that public service, Ken reestablished his
research career. He was immediately successful at obtaining some
funding from NSF, but was not successful at NASA. As a measure
of Ken's academic standing, President Reagan appointed him to the
National Science Board, one of only two academic scientists serving
on the Board at the time.

In our start-up year, we made a small one year award to Ken so
that he could attempt to restart his NASA funding and again
become involved in space-based tests of gravitational theory. During
the year Montana Space Grant Consortium funded Ken's
research, his work was the subject of a front page article in the Wall
Street Journal (December 9, 1991). Near the end our one year
grant, Ken was successful in obtaining regular NASA funding for his
research. His NASA connections have continued to grow; he is now
on the board overseeing the scientific side of the joint NASA-ESA
STEP (Space Test of Equivalence Principle) mission.

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