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History of the National EPSCoR Program

The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) was initiated by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1979 as a unique infrastructure-building effort to encourage local action to develop long term improvements in a state’s science and engineering (S&E) enterprise. It was created in response to Congressional concerns about geographical concentration of Federal funding of academic research and development (R&D).

Currently twenty-eight states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands have been identified as EPSCoR Jurisdictions. Through these federal-state partnerships, EPSCoR focuses on building science, engineering and technology capabilities that promote national competitiveness. These partnerships help to balance the distribution of federal research dollars and use state or local control in the delivery of program goals.

The success of NSF EPSCoR in the 1980s led Congress to expand the NSF program in the 1990s and early 2000s and create EPSCoR-related programs in the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The DOD and EPA EPSCoR programs are currently inactive due to budget reductions.

All agencies have research competitiveness as a cornerstone upon which the states are to develop strategies leading to future national competitiveness. Each EPSCoR state designs and executes its own strategic plans by melding exemplary research, education and economic development initiatives into a statewide approach. EPSCoR is a catalyst of change that is widely reviewed as a model federal-state partnership. For more information on the National EPSCoR programs click: NSF, NASA, DOE, USDA, and NIH/IDeA.

History of Kentucky EPSCoR

Kentucky joined EPSCoR in1985 as a member of the second cohort of states.  Upon acceptance into the program, Kentucky’s Governor appointed a Statewide EPSCoR Committee to develop a planning grant for an EPSCoR program in the state.  The Committee included representatives from industry, state government and higher education.  Mr. Ted Lassiter, the Director at that time of IBM Lexington was selected as Chairman of the Statewide EPSCoR Committee.  In developing its plan, the Statewide Committee established an Advisory Committee consisting only of members of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering for the purpose of visiting all universities in the state and assessing research strengths, weaknesses and systemic deterrents to quality research.  The Advisory Committee made a report to the Statewide EPSCoR Planning Committee, which was shared with university presidents.

Utilizing the Advisory Committee’s report, the NSF EPSCoR Planning Committee issued a request for proposals from all universities in the state.  Upon receiving these proposals, the planning committee had the proposals peer reviewed by the Advisory Committee and three experts in the field (suggested by the proposers).  Using this information the Planning Committee submitted a proposal to NSF that requested $3 million from NSF over a 5 year period matched by $3 million from the state, $10.6 million from industry and university in-kind match for a total project funding of $16.5 million.  NSF approved Kentucky’s proposal and made a grant of $3 million to the EPSCoR Committee with the University of Kentucky Research Foundation serving as fiscal agent.  Kentucky has been an NSF EPSCoR awardee in each succeeding year.

After Mr. Lassiter left IBM, Dr. Lee Todd, founder of DataBeam, Inc. was made Chairman of the EPSCoR Committee.   In 1992, the Statewide EPSCoR Committee decided to affiliate with the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC) in order to better coordinate among the various agency EPSCoR programs.  Dr. Todd who was also a co-founder of KSTC, continued on as chairman until he resigned his position in 2001 to become President of the University of Kentucky and was succeeded by Dr. Wimberly Royster, former Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Royster lead the committee for eight years, until he stepped down in 2009 when Dr. Nancy Martin, former Senior Vice President of Research at the University of Louisville, became the subsequent Chairperson.  Currently, Dr. Blaine Ferrell, former Associate Vice-President for Research at Western Kentucky University serves as chairperson of the KY EPSCoR Statewide Committee.  

The Statewide Committee has established subcommittees for each of the federal agencies that support an EPSCoR program.  Membership on these subcommittees consists of two Statewide Committee members, faculty and industry representatives. This structure has served Kentucky EPSCoR well in that awards have been received from all agencies and a broader representation of university and non-university personnel is involved in the Kentucky EPSCoR program.

Federal Agencies with EPSCoR/IDeA Programs

Click logos below to view program:
EPSCoR Programs Currently Active:
NSF Logo NASA logo
DOE Logo Emblem Only

IDeA & NIFA-AFRI Programs
 NIH logo  USDA Logo

Programs Inactive (No Federal Budget):

 EPA logo

Program absorbed 2004


Program defunded 2010

History of Chairpersons

KY EPSCoR Chairman: 
2015 - present

FERRELL Blaine 2010

Dr. Blaine Ferrell, Associate Vice-President for Research, Western Kentucky University (2011-2015)


KY EPSCoR Chairwoman:
2009 - 2014

Nancy crop

Dr. Nancy Martin, Senior Vice-President for Research, University of Louisville (1996-2006)


KY EPSCoR Chairman:
2001 - 2009

royster crop

Dr. Wimberly RoysterVice President for Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Kentucky (1988 - 1990)


KY EPSCoR Chairman: 
1990- 2001


Dr. Lee Todd, Jr., Founder of Databeam Co-founder of Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, President, University of Kentucky (2001- 2011)


KY EPSCoR Chairman: 
1985 - 1990

Mr. Ted Lassiter, Director of IBM Lexington (1975-1985)