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Universities enter NSF agreement

AROUND MISSISSIPPI — Four of Mississippi’s higher education institutions, led by Mississippi State University (MSU), are involved in a $20-million National Science Foundation (NSF) cooperative agreement to help the state become a national leader in computer modeling and simulation of complex systems.

The recently awarded cooperative agreement brings together researchers in different fields of study from MSU, Jackson State University, University of Mississippi/University of Mississippi Medical Center and the University of Southern Mississippi.

During the next five years, the schools will collaborate on “next generation” science in the areas of multi-scale simulation of biological systems, modeling biological networks and modeling and simulation of nanoscale chemistry.

“This award allows us to continue to build our infrastructure and to foster collaboration between institutions,” said principal investigator Sandra Harpole, director of MSU’s Center for Science, Mathematics and Technology. “It also will enhance our ability to be recognized in the field nationally and internationally.”

The cooperative agreement is funded through the NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSoR), specifically EPSCoR’s Office of Integrative Activities.

A joint program of the NSF and several U.S. states and territories, EPSCoR works to promote the development of science and technology resources through partnerships involving universities and industries, as well as government and federal research and development enterprises. It is directed at areas that historically receive smaller amounts of funding from external agencies’ research and development.

The office works to merge the fields of biology and chemistry through computational investigations and simulations. The goal is to link molecular modeling with macroscale physiology, using high-level data mining and modeling nanoscale structures to understand bind interactions and catalytic processes.

Harpole said biological simulation efforts of the Magnolia State cooperative agreement are broad, ranging from whole body physiological modeling methods to specific modeling of problems such as particle deposition in upper lung airways.

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