Three projects received awards under a smaller, proof-of-concept category. These awards provide pursuit funds for emerging research areas that are more limited in scope or require proof of concept before investigators can pursue larger funding. Each project will receive up to $100,000 for one year.

Projects receiving proof-of-concept awards are:

— Computationally Engineered Plant Institute

Principal investigator: Daniel Attinger, mechanical engineering

Description: Food security will be among the top three challenges of humanity in 2050. Nine ISU engineers and plant scientists are collaborating to design optimum crops with better yields and better tolerance to climate change. With two excellent programs in plant sciences and engineering, Iowa State is uniquely positioned to become a world class place for interdisciplinary research on crop design.

— The Language of Writing in STEM Disciplines

Principal investigator: Carol A. Chapelle, applied linguistics

Description: The vision is to create a national center of scholarship for the study of language in academic and professional writing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The center will conduct research on linguistic practices in STEM disciplines, to improve pedagogy of writing in STEM disciplines, and to develop and apply computational methods for analysis and assessment of discipline-specific writing.

— Identifying Potential RNA Therapeutic Targets in Infectious Disease

Principal investigator: Drena Dobbs, genetics, development and cell biology

Description: The primary goal of this proof-of-concept proposal is to establish the core of a future Consortium for RNA-based therapies. The team of interdisciplinary researchers is pursuing an innovative strategy for integrating new high-throughput experimental technologies with computational methods to identify and characterize novel targets for RNA-based therapies to treat infectious disease.