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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Regents of the University of Idaho
  • Michael S Strickland
  • (208) 885-0960
  • Susan E Crow
  • Rodrigo Vargas
  • Zachary Kayler
  • Caley K Gasch
Award Date:09/20/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 18,950,955
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 8,500,000
  • FY 2021=$8,500,000
Start Date:10/15/2021
End Date:09/30/2026
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Mid-scale RI-1 (M1:IP): A Deep Soil Ecotron facility to explore belowground communities and ecosystem processes
Federal Award ID Number:2131837
DUNS ID:075746271
Parent DUNS ID:075746271
Program:Mid-scale RI - Track 1
Program Officer:
  • Robert Fleischmann
  • (703) 292-7191

Awardee Location

Street:Office of Sponsored Programs
Awardee Cong. District:01

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Regents of the University of Idaho
Cong. District:01

Abstract at Time of Award

An award is made to the University of Idaho to implement a Deep Soil Ecotron facility that will lead to an improved understanding of deep soils, further illuminating the variety of life on the planet, its role in ecosystem processes, and its response to global change. The Deep Soil Ecotron will provide research infrastructure that the US currently lacks, accelerate research on deep soils and the role these soils play in the broader biosphere, and lead to the development of novel technologies aimed at assessing belowground structure and function. Additionally, the Deep Soil Ecotron will serve as the central hub for a network of EPSCoR researchers focused on questions related to deep soils. This national network currently has representatives from nine EPSCoR jurisdictions. Graduate students will be involved in all aspects of the Deep Soil Ecotron. These students, recruited from underrepresented groups, will receive unprecedented training in project management. The project management program, which will include workshops, classes, and hands-on-experience, will generate the future leaders and innovators of infrastructure development in the environmental sciences. Finally, the groundwork for future generations of soil researchers will be laid by expanding an established middle school curriculum development program, where middle school students will design and conduct mini-ecotron experiments. The understanding gained from this facility can help mitigate the degradation of the nation’s soil resources and help address future challenges, thus ensuring soil biodiversity, food security, and climate mitigation capacities for future generations. Not unlike the deep ocean, little is known about deep soils. Currently, research on deep soils is limited to excavating soil pits, which limits research and experiments that directly manipulate the deep soil environment are currently non-existent. The Deep Soil Ecotron will give researchers the unparalleled ability to investigate deep soils. This facility, composed of twenty-four, highly instrumented ecounits, will allow for soil profiles up to three meters in depth to be repeatedly sampled and continuously monitored. The Deep Soil Ecotron will enable researchers to address the following four broad research needs using approaches and instrumentation which have been unattainable under more common field and laboratory experiments. First, the Deep Soil Ecotron will reveal how deep soil communities and processes affect and interact with surface soils to influence whole ecosystems. Second, the Deep Soil Ecotron will allow researchers to determine how deep soils respond to global and land-use change, such as increasing soil temperature and agricultural management practices. Third, information gained from the Deep Soil Ecotron will be integrated into earth system models to improve model representation. Fourth, the Deep Soil Ecotron will provide a testbed for the development of sensors for the in-situ monitoring of deep soils. Ultimately the Deep Soil Ecotron will be the first of its kind in the world, shedding light on a largely unknown and unexplored environment, and accelerating research on belowground systems. This project is jointly funded by the Mid-scale RI-1 Program, the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), and Infrastructure Innovation for Biological Research (IIBR) Program. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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