LSU Provost’s Fund Invests $1.2 Million in Highly Competitive Research Teams

May 14, 2024

In a second round of Big Idea seed grants, the largest internal funding program in LSU history, the Provost’s Fund for Innovation in Research is investing $1.2 million in 15 interdisciplinary research teams. Aligned with LSU’s Scholarship First Agenda, the teams and their projects aim to solve pressing problems in Louisiana and everywhere.

“This substantial investment marks a strategic advancement in growing competitively and federally funded research at LSU,” Executive Vice President and Provost Roy Haggerty said. “It directly supports our mission to address critical challenges in Louisiana and to elevate LSU as a comprehensive, leading research university on the national stage.”

Projects include how to restore river deltas and protect coastlines by leveraging the land-building capabilities of soil-microbe-plant ecosystems; develop new treatments for drug-resistant cancers; improve human-robot collaboration; and support the health and performance of student athletes, warfighters, astronauts and first responders as well as older Black people who are four times more likely to suffer from frailty than their white counterparts.

In total, the funded projects will engage 65 faculty across nine colleges and schools on LSU’s flagship campus in Baton Rouge, extending collaboration to LSU Athletics, LSU AgCenter, Pennington Biomedical Research Center and LSU Health New Orleans. Two projects support advances in agriculture; seven projects drive discovery in biomedicine; six projects elevate the coast and environment; six projects protect the state and nation through stronger defense and cybersecurity; and six projects help secure the future of energy.

The goal of the Provost’s Fund is to provide seed funding to transform new ideas into nationally competitive research programs that are likely to attract external support and bring significant federal funding to Louisiana. Beyond the Big Idea grants, the Provost’s Fund also awards Faculty Travel Grants (this spring, to 37 faculty across the disciplines), Research & Creative Activity Support (this spring, to 14 faculty in the arts, humanities, social and behavioral sciences) and Seminar & Collaborator Support (this year, to 10 faculty).

This year’s Big Idea awards are categorized into five Phase 1 grants at $25,000 each (increased from $10,000 last year) to help researchers get organized; eight Phase 2 grants at $75,000 to develop preliminary data and create long-term research agendas; and two Phase 3 grants at $250,000 to develop large, center-scale grant proposals for national impact.

“In Louisiana, we face serious economic and social challenges related to insurance, extreme weather as well as infrastructural and community challenges in the face of natural hazards. Our future prosperity depends on our collective capacity to innovate and problem-solve in the fields of risk management and resilience,” said Thomas Douthat, assistant professor of environmental sciences at LSU and principal investigator for one of the two Phase 3 awards. “This funding will enable collaboration between LSU and LSU AgCenter in coastal sciences, resilient construction, energy, design and policy, and strengthen partnerships and nation-leading research in this field.”

“Our goal, the development of a Center for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at LSU, is the natural progression of the existing partnership between LSU researchers and members of the LSU Athletics family,” said Guillaume Spielmann, associate professor of kinesiology and principal investigator on the other Phase 3 award. “Together, we will work to maximize holistic health, safety and well-being, culminating in the enduring success of LSU Athletics.”

Learn more about the funded projects and how they will improve lives for everyone in Louisiana and beyond.