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News Release 10-021

Reporters Invited to NSF's Celebration of Five Leading Science and Technology Centers

Reporters may attend the event in Arlington, Va., on Feb. 5, or view selected coverage via webcast

Photo of two undergrads participate in an STC summer research program.

Research is conducted as part of an STC summer research program for undergraduates.

February 3, 2010

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

On Friday, Feb. 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., EST, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will celebrate the achievements of five Science and Technology Centers (STC) that have been conducting world-class research and education programs since 2000 in various disciplines with NSF funding. Each STC received a total of $38 million under its own cooperative agreement with NSF that concluded in 2010.

The NSF celebration will honor these five STCs:

  1. Science and Technology Center for Adaptive Optics: Led by the University of California at Santa Cruz, this STC pioneered new methods to compensate for optical distortions that blur images. These methods enabled astronomers to probe distant galaxies, study the black hole in the Milky Way's center and image planets outside of our galaxy. The new methods also helped scientists refine measurements of optical abnormalities in human eyes and thereby advance vision-improving techniques.
  2. Science and Technology Center for Behavioral Neuroscience: Led by Georgia State University in Atlanta, this award-winning STC conducts cutting-edge research into the neuroscience of aggression, fear, reproduction, memory, cognition, reward functions and positive emotional states. Resulting insights from this research have important implications for treating autism, post traumatic stress syndrome, and obesity, and for the development of new products that may kill damaging microbes, and thereby save the marine and healthcare industries billions of dollars.
  3. Science and Technology Center for Environmentally Responsible Solvents and Processes: Led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this STC is the world's leading center for enabling and discovering sustainable processes and products that use CO2-related technology. Applied to the development of sustainable energy alternatives, medical diagnostics and therapeutics via targeted delivery, this STC's innovative research has produced broad societal benefits.
  4. Science and Technology Center on the Sustainability of Water Resources in Semi-Arid Regions (SAHRA): Led by the University of Arizona, this STC uses an interdisciplinary approach to provide science-based technical, economic, legal, and policy expertise necessary for water development, use, and conservation policies. These efforts are designed to help Arizona sustain a high-quality water supply for economic development and offer an enhanced quality of life. Water management issues addressed by this STC are particularly timely because they are contentious and because ever-expanding semi-arid regions currently account for one-quarter of the contiguous U.S. Testifying to SAHRA's success was its receipt of the 2007 International Great Man-made River Prize from UNESCO, which is the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization.
  5. The NBTC Nanobiotechnology Center: Led by Cornell University, this STC researches applications of miniature biotechnologies to varied health care challenges. This STC's projects are devoted to, among other things, developing devices that will help contain pesticides at their application sites and thereby reduce their environmental threats; illuminate cancerous tumors for their removal; create engineered tissues that may replace tissues that have been damaged by injury, burns or surgery; and detect disorders, such as mad cow disease, that are notoriously difficult to identify in people and animals before symptoms arise. As another example, this STC is also working to reveal how SARS and other viruses invade their hosts and cross species barriers.

"These five centers have achieved remarkable advances across broad areas of science and engineering," says W. Lance Haworth, Director of NSF's Office of Integrative Activities. "They have opened up new research directions, exemplified by the application of adaptive optics to vision science through the Center of Adaptive Optics; they have developed new ways of doing research, such as the Science and Technology Center for Behavioral Neuroscience's neuroscience research collaboratives; they have developed state-of-the-art facilities, including the Science and Technology Center on the Sustainability of Water Resources in Semi-Arid Regions' ecohydrological observatory in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico; and they have demonstrated significant technological and societal impact, including the catalytic role of the Science and Technology Center for Environmentally Responsible Solvents and Processes' launch of eight start-up companies, and they have successfully engaged the public in science through various forums, including the NBTC Nanobiotechnology Center's traveling exhibit, It's a Nanoworld."

In addition to conducting potentially transformative research, the "graduating" STCs run innovative programs that advance science education for students of all levels, promote technology transfer and increase diversity in science and engineering. They have also fostered partnerships with dozens of U.S. and international colleges and universities (including many minority-serving institutions), government labs, and private sector organizations. In so doing, these STCs have built new intellectual and physical infrastructures for interdisciplinary collaborations, and linked new knowledge to society.

With the graduation of these five STCs, NSF still currently supports 12 STCs. NSF will announce the next "class" of STCs later this month.

The program for the celebration

The first half of the event will feature presentations from officials from NSF and the National Science Board highlighting the achievements of the five "graduating" STCs. The second half of the event will start at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time. It will feature discussions by STC officials on the vision, achievements, legacy and future of their STCs as well as a presentation on the joys and challenges of conducting interdisciplinary research.

How reporters may attend the celebration

When: 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST on Friday, Feb. 5.
Where: NSF headquarters at 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 375, Arlington, Va. 22230.
Contacts: Please contact Bobbie Mixon at or Lily Whiteman at if you wish to attend in person.
How to view webcast: The second half of the event will be webcast live at This link will go live at the time of the webcast. Shortly after the celebration concludes, the webcast will be posted at


Media Contacts
Bobbie Mixon, National Science Foundation, (703) 292-8070, email:
Lily Whiteman, National Science Foundation, (703) 292-8310, email:
Mari Jensen, University of Arizona, (520) 626-9635, email:
Patric Lane, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (919) 962-2091, email:
Tim Stephens, Univeristy of California Santa Cruz, (831) 459-4352, email:
Joseph Smith, Cornell University, (607) 254-6235, email:
Martha Koontz, Georgia State University, (404) 413-5464, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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