Overview & Highlights

Alabama EPSCoR Overview

The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) began in 1978 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) when Congress authorized the agency to create a new program in response to broad public concerns about the extent of geographical concentration of federal funding of research and development (R&D). Eligibility for EPSCoR participation is limited to those jurisdictions that have historically received lesser amounts of federal R&D funding and have demonstrated a commitment to develop their research bases and to improve the quality of science, technology and engineering research conducted at their universities and colleges.

The success of the NSF EPSCoR program during the 1980’s subsequently prompted the creation of EPSCoR and EPSCoR-like programs that currently exist in four other federal agencies: the Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The mission of EPSCoR was originally designed to meet the NSF statutory function “to strengthen research and education in science and engineering throughout the United States and to avoid undue concentration of such research and education.” ALEPSCoR is currently eligible to participate in EPSCoR programs associated with NSF, DOE, NASA, and USDA. ALEPSCoR is currently ineligible for participation in the EPSCoR program associated with the NIH.


  • To provide strategic programs and opportunities for EPSCoR participants that stimulate sustainable improvements in their R&D capacity and competitiveness.
  • To advance science and engineering capabilities in EPSCoR jurisdictions for discovery, innovation and overall knowledge-based prosperity.


  • To catalyze key research themes and related activities within and among EPSCoR jurisdictions that empower knowledge generation, dissemination and application.
  • To activate effective jurisdictional and regional collaborations among academic, government and private sector stakeholders that advance scientific research, promote innovation and provide multiple societal benefits.
  • To broaden participation in science and engineering by institutions, organizations and people within and among EPSCoR jurisdictions.
  • To use EPSCoR for development, implementation and evaluation of future programmatic experiments that motivate positive change and progression.



  • GRSP funded 36 students in Round 10 with 22 new awardees starting in August 2015
  • Research expenditures in FY 2014 exceeded $16.7M and $12.4M in FY 2015
  • New EPSCoR awards neared $8M in FY 2014 and exceeded $8.9M in FY 2015
  • A new $742K NSF RII Track 3 grant, entitled “STEM-IQ: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Inquiry-Enhancing Science Education in Southeast Alabama” was awarded during FY 2014
  • In FY 2015 Alabama researchers were awarded portions of two NSF Track 2 awards: Drs. Sweatt and Gamlin at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are participating in a two-state NSF Track 2 collaboration with South Carolina entitled “RII Track-2 FEC: Bridging Cognitive Science and Neuroscience Using Innovative Imaging Technologies” and University of Alabama’s Dr. Shanlin Pan is collaborating with Mississippi and Louisiana researchers in a three-state project entitled, “RII Track-2 FEC: Feeding and Powering the World-Capturing Sunlight to Split Water and Generate Fertilizer and Fuels”
  • New NSF Co-funded awards received in FY 2014 exceeded $4.38M and $2.4M in FY 2015
  • Received ongoing support for the NSF Track 1 project, entitled, “Enhancing Alabama’s Research Capacity in Nano/Bio Science and Sensors” and an extension of Alabama DOE Implementation Grant graduate student support and Human Resource Development program
  • In FY 2014, USDA AFRI Strengthening awards expenditures exceeded $1.1M while new awards in FY 2015 exceed $2.9M
  • In FY 2014, Alabama NASA EPSCoR was awarded one new Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) award while three CAN awards are still outgoing