Delaware State University joined Gov. John Carney and other state institutions of higher education Jan. 11 on campus to celebrate the infusion of $19.3 million in research funding for the state.

The event, held on campus in the MLK Jr. Student Center, was also attended by university President Wilma Mishoe, Provost Tony Allen and Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons.

The five-year grant is the fourth installment of funding from the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR — Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research — which provides research dollars to Delaware State University, the University of Delaware, Delaware Technical and Community College and Wesley College.

In addition to the $19.3 million from the National Science Foundation, Delaware is matching it with an additional $3.8 million, which bring the five-year funding total to more than $23 million.

Out of that NSF grant, Delaware State University’s College of Agriculture Science and Technology is receiving about $5.8 million for its part in the overall research work, which is under the title “Water in the Changing Coastal Environment of Delaware.”

In its research, the university’s scientists will strive to better understand how oyster serve as an excellent coastal filter. They will also study marsh grasses and their capacity to survive in high salinity and absorb excess nutrients that run off into water bodies from agriculture and other land uses.

“Water research is important because water is life,” said Mishoe. “It is something that affects not only us but future generations.”

Gulnihal Ozbay, professor of aquatic sciences, is leading a research team that seeks to understand ecological stresses from nutrients and salinization which deals with oysters, marsh grasses and tidal forests. Venugopal Kalavacharla, professor of agriculture and natural resources and the principal investigator of the University’s portion of the grant, along with Wesley College’s Stephanie Stotts, are serving as the co-leads with Ozbay.

Also taking part in the research projects university faculty members Sathya Elavarthi, associate professor of agriculture and natural resources; Tomasz Smolinski, associate professor of computer and information sciences; and Derrick Scott, assistant professor of biological sciences; Vasudevan Ayyappan, research scientist; as well as postdoctoral research associates Mayavan Subramani and Antonette Todd.

The University’s Center for Integrated Biological and Environmental Research serves as the EPSCoR hub for the University. Kalavacharla is the director of CIBER.

The University of Delaware received the first EPSCoR funding in 2005. Delaware State University joined them as a co-principal investigating institution and also received multi-year research funding in 2008 and 2013 — the latter year in which it was responsible for a research area on bioenergy.

Since 2005, Delaware State University has received $17 million in direct EPSCoR funding. Kalavacharla said that faculty, staff and students at the university have benefited tremendously from EPSCoR funding.

Mishoe noted that the EPSCoR funding is valuable for Delaware because it brings about scientific collaborations among its institutions of higher education and it gives students the opportunity for hands-on research.