Funding for new scientific instruments will increase research impact across campus

By Paula Van Brocklin, Office of the Vice President for Research

Iowa State University researchers received a boost in March when the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) announced funding for four new instruments that will advance the university’s scientific endeavors. The awards are made possible through the Presidential Cost Sharing – Research Instrumentation Funding (COSRIF) internal funding program, which provides funding for faculty and core facilities to purchase new equipment, replace or add components to existing research instruments, or develop new equipment.

Eligible proposals include those whose costs fall outside the range of federal major instrumentation grants or are not permitted in typical federal research proposals. Funding requests may be up to a maximum of $300,000 from Iowa State funds, with the OVPR contributing a maximum of up to one-third of that amount.

“The COSRIF program is a critical internal funding resource that helps equip campus researchers and units with specialized, novel or vital tools to conduct cutting-edge research,” said Sarah Nusser, vice president for research. “We are pleased to be able to provide this funding.”

Following are the four spring 2019 COSRIF proposals funded by the OVPR:

Video recording hardware and software
Principal investigator: Anna Johnson, professor of animal science

New video recording hardware and software will allow Johnson’s research team to collect accurate animal behavior data. The new equipment will provide the research capabilities necessary for peer-reviewed publication of scholarly works, including blinding researchers to animals, treatments and time; inter- and intra-observer reliability testing; and sample and data storage.

Deep reaction ion etching system
Principal investigator: Liang Dong, professor of electrical and computer engineering

A deep reaction ion etching (DRIE) system is a tool that precisely etches materials for manufacturing various micro/nanoscale devices. This funding marks the first time Iowa State will have a DRIE system on campus, no longer requiring Iowa State researchers to regularly seek assistance from peer universities. Faculty, postdocs and graduate students in the departments of electrical and computer engineering; materials science and engineering; mechanical engineering; chemical and biological engineering; chemistry and physics will immediately use the DRIE system to advance their research.

Subdiffraction chemical imaging equipment
Principal investigator: Emily Smith, professor of chemistry

New subdiffraction chemical imaging equipment will be the centerpiece of the Chemical Imaging Innovation Center for Biological and Materials Research on Iowa State’s campus. For the past few decades, limited optical imaging has challenged scientists and engineers, hindering progress in multiple research areas. The new instrument will add heterodyne detection capabilities to an existing subdiffraction microscope located in Spedding Hall, increasing subdiffraction chemical imaging capabilities.

Isotope ratio mass spectrometer
Principal investigator: Alan Wanamaker, associate professor of  geological and atmospheric sciences

The new mass spectrometer will be housed in the Stable Isotope Laboratory on campus, the only such lab in Iowa that processes geological and environmental materials. The mass spectrometer will increase researchers’ access to equipment for the analyses of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen in organic and inorganic materials.

Proposals for the next round of COSRIF funding will be due in early 2020.