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NASA Awards Expand Research Capabilities at Institutions Nationwide

A photo of a team of researchers from the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras while working to discover a more efficient water recycling system for use on space missions. The team is comprised of doctoral students Liz Santiago-Martoral, on the left, and Alondra Rodriguez-Rolon, and their mentor Professor Eduardo Nicolau. One of their experiments can be seen on the countertop to the left of the group.
Credits: NASA

NASA is awarding approximately $45 million to 21 higher-education institutions to help build capacity for research. The awards were made possible through the Minority University Research and Education Project Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) and Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grants, which are funded by the agency’s Office of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement.

“NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project Institutional Research Opportunity and Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research awards help institutions raise their technological bar,” said Torry Johnson, deputy associate administrator of STEM Engagement Programs at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “When institutions enhance their capabilities and infrastructure, they become more competitive in their research, which opens doors to valuable experience and opportunities.”

Minority University Research and Education Project Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) Awards

Seven minority-serving institutions will receive approximately $5 million each over a five-year period of performance for projects that span a variety of research topics. The institutions and their proposed projects are:

  • Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage – Alaska Pacific University Microplastics Research and Education Center
  • California State University in Fullerton – SpaceIgnite Center for Advanced Research-Education in Combustion
  • City University of New York, Hunter College in New York – NASA-Hunter College Center for Advanced Energy Storage for Space
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee – Integrative Space Additive Manufacturing: Opportunities for Workforce-Development in NASA Related Materials Research and Education
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark – AI Powered Solar Eruption Center of Excellence in Research and Education
  • University of Houston in Houston – NASA MIRO Inflatable Deployable Environment and Adaptive Space Systems Center
  • University of Illinois in Chicago – Center for In-Space Manufacturing: Recycling and Regolith Processing

NASA’s MIRO award was established to strengthen and develop research capacity and infrastructure of minority serving institutions in areas of strategic importance and value to NASA missions and national priorities.

Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Award

NASA establishes partnerships with government, higher education, and industry to create lasting improvements in research infrastructure and capacity for specific states or regions, while enhancing its national research and development competitiveness. The program is directed at those jurisdictions that have traditionally not participated in competitive aerospace and aerospace-related research activities.

NASA will award 14 institutions up to $750,000 each over the course of a three-year period of performance. The awarded institutions and their projects are:

  • University of Mississippi in University – Development of a Lagrangian Stability Analysis Framework for High-Speed Boundary Layers
  • University of Alabama in Huntsville – Testing the functionality and performance of a large area detector for STROBE-X
  • Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge – Colloidal Assembly: Understanding the Electric Field Driven Assembly of Colloids and its Applications (Science Mission Directorate)
  • West Virginia University in Morgantown – Science Mission Directorate: Bringing Gravitational-Wave Astronomy into the Space Age: Next-Generation Waveform Modeling of Black-Hole Binary Coalescences for Laser Intererometer Space Antenna Data Analysis
  • University of Puerto Rico in San Juan – NASA EPSCoR: Space Technology Mission Directorate/Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Advancing High-Energy, Cycle-Stable Sulfur-Based Batteries for NASA Space Missions: An Integrated Framework of Density Functional Theory, Machine Learning, and Materials Innovation
  • Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada – NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California: Prospecting and Pre-Colonization of the Moon and Mars using Autonomous Robots with Human-In-The-Loop
  • Oklahoma State University in Stillwater – A.7.4.2 Biosignature Detection of Solar System Ocean Worlds using Science-Guided Machine Learning
  • Iowa State University in Ames – Johnson Space Center, Ames Research Center: Non-GPS Navigation System Using Dual Star/Planetary Cameras for Lunar and Deep-Space CubeSat Missions
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks – NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland: The Alaska – Venus analog: synthesizing seismic ground motion and wind noise in extreme environments
  • University of the Virgin Islands in Charlotte Amalie – University of the Virgin Islands Etelman Observatory in the Era of Time Domain and MultiMessenger Astronomy: Preparing for a New Era of Science Productivity
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu – Cubesats for Climate Change Detection of Transient Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • University of Idaho in Moscow – Science Mission Directorate and Goddard Space Flight Center: Improving Global Dryland Streamflow Modeling by Better Characterizing Vegetation Use of Deep-Water Resources Using NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment/Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On, SWOT, and Land Information System
  • University of Arkansas in Little Rock – AR- III-Nitride Ultraviolet Laser Diodes for Harsh Environments, Space Based Communications, and Remote Sensing (Space Technology Mission Directorate)
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City – Science Mission Directorate: High Spatial-Temporal Resolution Soil Moisture Retrieval using Deep Learning Fusion of Multimodal Satellite Datastreams

Both awards were made through NASA’s Office of STEM engagement solicitations. They promote STEM literacy to enhance and sustain the capability of institutions to perform NASA-related research and education, which directly supports the agency’s mission directorates.

For more information about NASA STEM, visit:


Gerelle Dodson
Headquarters, Washington



Last Updated
May 15, 2024