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Prairie Light: Next Generation Networking for Mid-continent Science

Kansas NSF EPSCoR awarded $1.176 million to enhance our state’s cyber networking infrastructure

“Prairie Light” Award from NSF provides a more stable, reliable network to benefit research and education in Kansas.

The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.176 million over two years to three universities in Kansas (Kansas State University/K-State, The University of Kansas/KU and Wichita State University/WSU) who are collaborating to upgrade a shared data network that better connects Kansas’ educational institutions.

The funded project, called Prairie Light: Next Generation Networking for Mid-continent Science, boosts the bandwidth of KanREN, the Kansas Research and Education Network, significantly and makes the network more stable and reliable to benefit research initiatives in Kansas.

Scientific inquiry depends on advanced data communications, and the proposed upgrades help scientists acquire and analyze large data sets and also collaborate over wider areas.

Many research projects in Kansas benefit from the improved network, including two Kansas NSF EPSCoR initiatives, Oklahoma and Kansas: A cyberCommons for Ecological Forecasting and Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Basic Science, Impacts and Mitigation. Scientists for these two projects are located in various locations in Kansas and, in the case of cyberCommons, Oklahoma as well.

A key partner in the Prairie Light project is KanREN, a non-profit consortium of colleges, universities, school districts and other organizations in Kansas, brought together to facilitate inter-institutional communication and collaboration and to provide statewide high speed network backbone for education and research.

The upgrades made possible by this award also support the 800+ member institutions of Kan-ed, a statewide networking organization that encompasses two- and four-year colleges, most of the unified school districts and other schools, libraries and hospitals.

Students at Kansas’ leading research universities as well as two- and four-year institutions of higher learning benefit from new tools and expertise provided in the improved data network. Educational initiatives directly impacted include: Climate Change in Indigenous Communities, a program that trains Native American students in the sciences at Haskell Indian Nations University; Bridges to Baccalaureates, a partnership of three southwestern Kansas community colleges, two Kansas City, KS community colleges and K-State; Women and Hispanics in Sciences at Emporia State University; and the McNair Scholars Program at KU, K-State and WSU, in which undergraduate students from groups underrepresented in the sciences explore research methodology and are mentored to pursue graduate degrees.

Kristin Bowman-James is the Principal Investigator for the project. The Co-Principal Investigators are Daniel Andresen, K-State, Donald F. (Rick) McMullen, KU, and Ravi Pendse, WSU.