Bacterial biofilms (layers of bacteria that adhere to surfaces) are becoming increasingly valued for their potential ability to give advantageous properties to the surfaces they adhere to. To leverage this, South Dakota EPSCoR proposes to bring together faculty, staff, and students from eleven South Dakota institutions to form a new research center called the South Dakota Biofilm Science and Engineering Center (SDBSEC) under the common goal of becoming nationally recognized for developing next-generation biofilm technologies. These technologies will be focused on understanding the interactions between biofilms and a substrate (metal or plant). The research will eventually develop both superior corrosion-resistant metals that can be used in the oil and gas industry and will allow agricultural crops to thrive on less fertilizer by leveraging nitrogen-fixing bacteria that can supplement nitrogen to crops. The project will bring together a diverse team of individuals from many different scientific fields to conduct the research and will create SDBSEC Futures, a program to focus on the development and engagement of the university educational pipeline, from K-12 teachers to undergraduate students to faculty in this project. SDBSEC Futures will focus on researchers and students originating from rural and Native American communities and will provide unique research experiences in SDBSEC laboratories to help them advance in STEM fields.
South Dakota EPSCoR's Research Infrastructure Improvement project will create the South Dakota Biofilm Science and Engineering Center (SDBSEC) that aims to become nationally recognized for developing next generation, nanoscale, conformational two-dimensional coatings to control biofilm formation on technologically relevant materials with agricultural, industrial, and commercial applications. The SDBSEC intends to develop fundamental knowledge of biofilm phenotypes by addressing: 1) Corrosion on metal surfaces with a focus on sulfate reducing bacteria that have direct implications for the energy industry where the prevention of corrosion of oil pipelines by bacteria could help prevent oil leaks into the environment and therefore prevent economic and environmental catastrophes; 2) Biofilm influence on root colonization in agriculturally relevant crops, focusing on the nitrogen-fixing bacterium Bradyrhizobium diazoeffeiciens. This research will focus on soybean plant roots to understand how biofilms could potentially enhance favorable symbiosis between the plant and the bacteria by reducing the competition of other soil microbes. When the nitrogen-fixing symbiotic relationship is maximized, efficient nitrogen fixation will be enabled, thus reducing the need for additional fertilizer application. Additionally, the project will assemble a comprehensive education and outreach plan through a program called SDBSEC Futures. SDBSEC Futures will focus on multiple educational levels from K-12 to faculty, and involve higher educational institutions, K-12 schools, industry, and tribal colleges to generate significant, long lasting impacts in the development of a competitive workforce in the state of South Dakota. SDBSEC Futures has elected to pay particular attention to providing STEM opportunities to Native American and rural populations to have a deep and long-lasting impact in South Dakota well beyond the duration of this award.
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.
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.