NSF News

NSF announces a new EPSCoR Track-1 award to combat climate change in Kentucky 

The Commonwealth of Kentucky will receive $20 million from the U.S. National Science Foundation through the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). This program aims to support U.S. states and territories, also known as EPSCoR jurisdictions, that have historically received less funding for research and development.

Through the EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program Track-1, Kentucky has been awarded five years of funding to study how climate change affects local communities. The project will allow researchers to find new ways to deal with these challenges, educate the community and create programs to teach future researchers.

Kentucky faces mounting threats from environmental change, including extreme weather events, floods, droughts and landslides. The Climate Resilience through Multidisciplinary Big Data Learning, Prediction & Building Response Systems (CLIMBS) project will advance the fields of climate science, geohazards engineering and disaster management to improve sustainability and resilience to climate change. Research and educational programs will benefit underserved communities in eastern Kentucky. 

"We are proud to invest in Kentucky's future through the CLIMBS project, which aims to enhance climate resilience and sustainability across industries," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "By focusing on science-driven solutions, Kentucky can address climate challenges, protect communities and bolster economic growth for communities across the commonwealth and throughout the region."

Led by the University of Kentucky, scientists from eight universities will use Big Data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to model the impact of different climate scenarios. CLIMBS will help build climate resilience and sustainability in Kentucky's key industries of manufacturing, data analytics, energy transition and engineering and help train a science and engineering workforce that will enable the growth of smaller industries, such as food and beverage and agriculture. 

CLIMBS is responsive to Kentucky's Vision 2030: Science & Technology Plan, which includes a major focus on climate and resiliency and is motivated by the flood and weather events in 2021 and 2022 that impacted the area, including impoverished mountain and rural communities. Along with improving education and outreach in Appalachia, CLIMBS will promote the development of university-industry partnerships and enhanced abilities to compete for center-level funding and commercialization.