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June 11, 2008
By Sue Putnam
James Henson, associate chair of the University of Nevada, Reno’s electrical and biomedical engineering department, was recently selected by the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Research Affairs Council as the project director for a national research program.
The Department of Defense Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR) is a federally funded program intended to increase research competitiveness in states that historically have not received significant research and development funding from Department of Defense agencies. Nevada is one of 25 states and two territories authorized to participate in the program.
“The DoD provides excellent research opportunities,” Henson said. “And the opportunities are there for all eight higher education institutions in the state, so we’ll be requesting letters of intent and pre-proposals from researchers. Then we’ll form a panel of out-of-state reviewers to select three projects for submission to the DoD program. It’s going to be extremely tough because we have so much talent in Nevada.”
Henson said the program also provides Department of Defense research laboratories with seed money needed to stimulate innovative research in small to medium-sized universities in the DEPSCoR states. The grants are usually between $250,000 and $500,000 for three years.
Since 1991 when Henson joined the faculty, he has served as principal investigator on many of the agency’s supported grants and contracts. Most of those dealt with high-resolution, military imaging radar simulation and analysis. He has also worked with the Department of the Treasury and the Nevada gaming industry to help deter counterfeit paper currencies, and he has five patents pending in such areas as the fabrication of covert media and 3D-imaging radar systems.
“Dr. Henson has been very active in research projects with applications to the defense industry,” College of Engineering Dean Ted Batchman said. “He is an outstanding choice for this position.”
According to NSHE, Nevada DEPSCoR programs have totaled more than $4 million and the state has matched more than $2 million in research funding. Nevada is the home of many Department of Defense facilities, including Nellis Air Force Base; the Fallon Naval Air Station, which includes the Naval Surface Warfare Center and the Top Gun program; and the Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot.
“I think it’s going to be a great process,” Henson said. “But it’s also going to be a tough decision for the panel to pick just a few research proposals from the many we think we’ll receive. Come next spring, I suspect we’ll have an excellent announcement to make about Nevada’s research and the folks who will be working in the DEPSCoR program.”