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Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Montana State University
  • Brent M Peyton
  • (406) 994-7419
  • Matthew W Fields
  • Dana Skorupa
Award Date:08/27/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 2,984,140
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 2,984,140
  • FY 2021=$2,984,140
Start Date:09/01/2021
End Date:08/31/2026
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.076
Primary Program Source:040106 NSF Education & Human Resource
Award Title or Description:NRT-URoL: Decoding the Mechanisms Underpinning Biofilm Function and Architecture in Extreme Environments
Federal Award ID Number:2125748
DUNS ID:625447982
Parent DUNS ID:079602596
Program:NSF Research Traineeship (NRT)
Program Officer:
  • Daniel Denecke
  • (703) 292-8072

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:00

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Montana State University
Street:305 Cobleigh Hall
Cong. District:00

Abstract at Time of Award

Biofilms, communities of microorganisms attached to surfaces, occur in/on almost any environment and surface type. As a result, they have widespread impact on many aspects of both engineered and natural systems including agriculture, industry, and human health. Extreme environments provide unique opportunities to conduct cross-cutting transformative science. Their reduced biodiversity and extreme physical and chemical conditions enable detailed characterization and quantitative descriptions of important physical, chemical, and biological processes. This National Research Traineeship (NRT) award to Montana State University (MSU) will train a diverse group of Ph.D. students to effectively engage and understand critical properties of extreme biofilm systems across multiple disciplines. The interdisciplinary research training will help to generate new insights that can control biofilms in engineered and natural systems. The integrative scientific training program uses innovative teaching elements that will equip participants with professional, communication, teamwork, research, and problem-solving skills that are broadly applicable across a variety of industrial and academic research careers. The project anticipates training 71 Ph.D. students, including 21 NRT-funded trainees, with program activities also serving Ph.D. and M.S. students across a range of STEM departments. The NRT trainees will use life in extreme environments to push the boundaries of interdisciplinary research, integrating meta-omics-based approaches with high resolution imaging to understand intricate and cross-cutting interactions occurring in multi-species and multi-domain biofilms. Students will investigate extreme biological systems that span the range of conditions where life survives, from the icy Antarctic cryosphere, to Yellowstone National Park terrestrial hot springs, to the hydrothermal vents of Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California. Major research themes include: (1) using metagenomics to examine genotypic variations and commonalities related to metabolic potential and diversity in extreme biofilm communities; (2) investigating patterns of biofilm composition and architecture using multi-scale microscopic imaging instrumentation; and (3) identifying patterns of extreme biofilm development, expression of novel pathways, and signaling molecules using proteomics and metabolomics. The traineeship’s project-based and collaborative science curriculum will help participants acquire the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to converge across disciplinary boundaries to investigate the research themes, identifying properties and patterns of activity that explain biofilm cohesion and organization in extreme systems. Key elements of this NRT program are scalable and sustainable, including (1) a program that allows students personalize their technical training, curriculum, and mentor team; (2) seminars, courses, and activities that help trainees develop transferrable professional and technical skills that feature strongly across a range of research-related careers, and (3) recruitment, mentoring, and retention strategies that broaden STEM participation, foster mentoring and professional relationships, and improve students’ research productivity. The program provides a holistic educational experience for the trainees, where innovative training elements thoughtfully prepare participants to thrive in a variety of research careers. The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new potentially transformative models for STEM graduate education training. The program is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary or convergent research areas through comprehensive traineeship models that are innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs. 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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