A Look at Why K-State Earns National and International Grants
Chuck Rice Studies Climate ChangeBy conducting quality research in areas important to Kansas and training tomorrow's scientists to solve future challenges, K-State Research and Extension plays a vital role in achieving the university's goal to be recognized as one of the nation's Top 50 public research universities.
Kansas State University ranks as an international leader in research on small grains, such as wheat and sorghum; crop disease resistance; climate variability; and food safety. Achieving that level of success requires dedicated faculty and excellent facilities. Grant funding also plays an important role.
In 2013, K-State Research and Extension received more than $38 million in grant funds. Annual research expenditures, the measure used most often to gauge the scope of university research enterprises, continue to grow and were more than $80 million for fiscal year 2013.
To be selected for these funds, faculty are required to submit detailed applications that are reviewed by panels of experts, said Ernie Minton, associate director for research and technology transfer.
"K-State Research and Extension faculty are well respected across the United States and internationally," Minton said. "Many of the large grants we receive are a direct result of our faculty's exceptional research expertise directed to challenges facing Kansas, the region, the nation, and indeed, the world."
Grant specialist Terri Fayle works closely with faculty throughout the application process.
"I help with the budget, justification for the grant, and making sure all necessary forms are completed," said Fayle. "That allows the applicant, who understands the specifics of the project, to concentrate on writing a great narrative to accompany the proposal."
Recruiting talent to K-State
"Grant dollars can be used to hire graduate research assistants and graduate teaching assistants," Fayle said. "Those funds allow students to stay in school and become tomorrow's scientists. Some students come to K-State from Kansas and other states to work with our faculty on specific projects."
For example, Christian Cruz (pictured) came to K-State from Ecuador to complete a doctorate with plant pathologists Jim Stack and Bill Bockus on wheat and rice blast research.
Stack and Bockus work with university distinguished professor Barbara Valent and an international team of researchers who earned a $5.5 million USDA grant to develop control strategies for blast disease, a major constraint to global rice production and an emerging threat to U.S. wheat.
"Wheat blast was first discovered in Brazil in 1985 and has since been found in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina. Several years ago it cut production in Brazilian wheat states by up to 60 percent in some areas."
Cruz continues his research at K-State as a post-doctoral assistant and was awarded a $30,000 2013 Rotary Global Grant Scholarship to conduct research on wheat blast in Bolivia and Brazil.
Other grant benefits for Kansas
Many grants funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture require multiple components related to research, extension, and teaching. For example, a multistate U.S. Department of Agriculture project that focuses on reducing the occurrence and public health risks from six Shiga toxin-producing E. coli requires that one-third of the $25 million grant be used for education and outreach.
Many of the educational materials and online training modules will be produced at K-State in English and Spanish and can be used in Kansas feedlots and meat-packing plants. Related research projects are conducted in K-State's Biosecurity Research Center in Pat Roberts Hall.
As Kansas' only land-grant institution, K-State is uniquely qualified to provide the expertise and execute the activities of such grants.