National Science Foundation: 70 years of funding fundamental research

On May 10, 1950, Congress established the National Science Foundation (NSF) as an independent federal agency designed to promote the progress of science, advance the country’s health, prosperity, and welfare, and to secure the nation. The University of Oregon joins other research universities across the country in celebrating NSF’s 70th anniversary by featuring a few of the many discoveries UO researchers have made with support from NSF funding.

The Science Coalition – a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of more than 50 of the nation’s leading public and private research universities dedicated to sustaining the federal government’s investment in fundamental scientific research as a means to stimulate the economy, spur innovation and drive American competitiveness – has created a fun new infographic featuring UO-related discoveries and research funded by NSF. These are just a few of the many NSF-funded research projects UO faculty have conducted since NSF’s founding.

Follow the links to learn more about a few of these discoveries:

  • Lasers: Presidential Chair in Science and Professor of Chemistry Geri Richmond, who is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and specializes in understanding the molecular processes that occur in liquid surfaces and the environmental relevance of their chemistry and physics, has used lasers and computational methods to impact acid rain, atmospheric aerosols, and oil spill remediation.

  • Mathematical Modeling: Computational Material Chemistry Professor Christopher Hendon has researched mathematical modeling and used NSF-shared computing resources to help identify key variables required to make consistently tasty coffee.

  • Early Evidence of Humans: Anthropology professors Dennis Jenkins and Loren Davis researched DNA from human coprolites (otherwise known as dried feces) – which shows as some of the earliest evidence of humans in North America.

  • Glacial Melting: Earth Sciences Professor Dave Sutherland discovered that glaciers are potentially melting as much as 100 times faster than predicted.
  • Innovation Pipeline: College of Education Professor Joanna Goode has been at the forefront of preparing 3,500 teachers to deliver nationally-scaled intro to computer science curriculum that has attracted and retained diverse set of high school students.

  • Agriculture: Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Darren Johnson researched ways to reduce pollution/fertilizer use through invention of molecular sensors that detect nitrate levels in soil - and thus the company SupraSensor Technologies was born.

  • Neuro Imaging: Professors Benjamin Clarke (Department of Psychology), Hank Fien (College of Education.), Lina Shanley (College of Education), and Fred Sabb (Director of the Lewis Center for Neuroimaging & instructor in the Department of Psychology) used neuro imaging to measure and improve mathematics interventions for at risk learners.

  • Engaging the Public: Earth Sciences Professor Leif Karlstrom researched ways to translate volcanic data into sound and music to create new ways to engage public around science.

  • Fish Adaptation: Biologist Bill Kresko and his team worked with University of Alaska scientists to discover that ocean-dwelling fish have adapted to fresh-water environments, which provides understanding of the potential impacts of sudden environmental change on organisms in nature.

  • Preventing Spread of Disease: Professors William Bradshaw (Biology) and Christina Holzapfel (Institute of Ecology and Evolution) researched ways to isolate non-biting mosquito genes to prevent the spread of diseases.