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CCU awarded major NSF grant for undergraduate research

Coastal Carolina University has been awarded a $325,000 grant to serve as a three-year site for the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). This is the first REU award that CCU has received.

According to CCU science professors Sathish Kumar and Varavut Limpasuvan, who initiated the project, the award will fund eight undergraduate internships annually that will focus on research that integrates computing and geoscience to advance the study of coastal zones, climate variability and big data analytics. Paid, 10-week summer internships will be offered in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

“One of the objectives of the REU is to encourage the involvement of women and other underrepresented minority students in computer science and geoscience,” said Kumar, assistant professor of computing sciences. “These disciplines have historically produced low numbers of minority doctorates and have been plagued by gender inequality.”

According to Michael Roberts, dean of CCU’s College of Science and vice president for research and emerging initiatives, this award “continues to demonstrate CCU’s increasing scholarly profile, particularly in how it blends the undergraduate experience with high-level research.”

One of the requirements of the REU programs, according to Limpasuvan, is that the majority of the participating students must be enrolled at institutions other than the site school. Some of the students will be recruited from historically black colleges and universities and women’s colleges, both in South Carolina and neighboring states.

Kumar joined the CCU faculty in 2013 after earning a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Louisville.Limpasuvan earned a Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Washington and joined CCU in 2000. He is CCU’s Kerns Palmetto Professor of Applied Physics.

The NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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