Ecologist Arthur Brown at the University of Arkansas, Fayette-vile, longed to do field research in the cold, fast streams of the surrounding Ozark countryside. But his school couldn’t afford the equipment; a heavy teaching load tied him to the campus; and the university didn’t seem to care all that much about research anyway when it came to promoting its faculty members.

Then came a special NSF program called EPSCoR, thanks to which Brown suddenly had both a mobile laboratory and time outside the classroom—and the university took on a new attitude toward research.

The ecologist published several papers based on EPSOoR-funded work and went on to get his first NSF research grant. He has also been selected as a member of NSF’s panel to review proposals for ecology-oriented research. “I credit EPSCoR with the change,” he says.

EPSCoR, which stands for Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, has provided $36.5...

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