NSRI receives $5 million for defense threat reduction work

The new funding for the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska allows additional NU researchers to join the team developing projects to counter weapons of mass destruction, including NSRI Fellow Eric Carnes, PhD, an associate professor in the UNMC Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health.

The National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska has received $5 million in incremental funding this year from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to continue several projects for countering weapons of mass destruction. The original $9.6 million award was established in 2021, and NSRI has worked with DTRA since 2018.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency protects national security interests in a rapidly evolving, globalized threat environment and provides solutions to threats from weapons of mass destruction. NSRI, with researchers and students from across the University of Nebraska System, will continue to provide laboratory support, capability innovation and end-user training for timely and accurate identification and mitigation of chemical and biological threats.

“Understanding of mission, delivery of innovative solutions and leveraging of NU capabilities is what has made our long-time partnership with DTRA so successful,” said Marty Sikes, NSRI associate executive director for chemical and biological defense programs. “We are honored to continue to serve our military end-users with the tools they need to keep themselves and our country safe.”

NSRI scientists contributing to the projects bring forward deep expertise and field experience in the areas of aerosol biology, materials science and advanced prototyping.

Their work leverages NSRI’s National Capital Region Laboratory and Conference Center in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, Field Office and Laboratory in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Space Coast Field Office in Melbourne, Florida. These facilities are equipped with the most advanced scientific instruments and technologies available and provide convenient access for key stakeholders and end-users to get eyes on the development and provide real-time feedback.

As a University Affiliated Research Center designated by the Department of Defense, NSRI serves as a trusted agent to the federal government and leverages the expertise and capabilities of the four NU campuses.

NSRI Fellow Paul Davis, PhD, professor of biology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Joshua Santarpia, PhD, NSRI science and technology advisor and professor of microbiology at UNMC, have contributed to the projects since 2021. The new funding allows three additional NU researchers and several NU students to join the team.

  • NSRI Fellow Eric Carnes, PhD, an associate professor in the UNMC Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health, will collaborate with NSRI on advanced biological threat research. He will leverage UNMC’s biosafety level 3 laboratory to test synthetic transport solutions being developed for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
  • NSRI Fellow Rebecca Lai, PhD, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and two post-doctoral students will execute deliverables for fundamental and applied aspects of biosensor research.
  • NSRI Fellow Carl Nelson, PhD, UNL Hergenrader Distinguished Scholar of mechanical engineering, and several students will contribute advanced prototyping and engineering solutions.

Dr. Carnes said: “I really enjoy the interaction within the DOD community. I get the opportunity to interact with many people from high-ranking officers and agency representatives to warfighters to get their input on how to best address their needs. Then we can circulate prototype tools for community feedback, ensuring a superb final product for use in the field.”

1 comment

  1. Beth Beam says:

    Congratulations Drs. Carnes & Nelson. Very happy for both of you. Keep up the good work – Beth Beam.

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