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Sanford Research, Augustana awarded grant from National Science Foundation

Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site to be established

NSF_150X150(Sioux Falls, SD) – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Sanford Research and Augustana College a three-year, $320,000 grant to establish a Research Experiences for Undergraduates site for the exploration of topics in cellular and molecular biology.

The NSF-REU grant will offer $5,000 stipends to 10 students for participation in 10-week research programs. Campus housing is provided and participants will also receive a $750 travel stipend to attend national cellular and molecular biology conferences where they can display their research and learn from other scientists and researchers.Vitiello_Lauren_Cole_Tufts_250X200

David Pearce, PhD, vice president and chief operating officer of Sanford Research, and Seasson Vitiello, PhD, assistant professor of Biology at Augustana and an adjunct scientist at Sanford Children’s Research Center, are the grant administrators. 

“This collaboration puts us on a small list of the nation's top research-focused organizations recognized by the NSF and designated as NSF-REU program sites for undergraduate student researchers,” said Dr. Pearce, who is the principal investigator on the project.

Sanford Research and Augustana College have already demonstrated the ability to co-administer a successful undergraduate training program in the Sanford Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR).  SPUR, which was created in 2010 as a partnership between Sanford and Augustana, drew the attention of the NSF. The new NSF-REU program will be administered in conjunction with the existing SPUR program, both of which will provide undergraduate students with a 10-week opportunity during the summer to apply their the knowledge and skills gained in the classroom to the laboratory setting. SPUR is open to Augustana College students, while the new NSF-REU program will be open nationally to students normally not exposed to such an opportunity.

This summer, 70 Augustana students are working alongside faculty researchers on campus and with research partners in laboratories, hospitals and research institutions throughout the U.S.

“Obtaining funding from the NSF for an REU site is the direct result of a strong SPUR program that was already in place,” said Dr. Vitiello. “Our existing SPUR program demonstrated that we were ready to expand opportunities for college students to explore complex topics in a unique, challenging environment, and this NSF grant will allow us to do that.”

While Augustana has been an NSF grant recipient in the past, this NSF grant is the first in Sanford Research’s history. The REU site at Sanford Research and Augustana is just the sixth established in South Dakota and one of only 47 in cell biology across the nation.

About Sanford Research/USD

Sanford Research/USD is a non-profit research organization formed between Sanford Health and the University of South Dakota. Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in Fargo, ND and Sioux Falls, SD and represents the largest, rural, not-for-profit healthcare system in the nation with a presence in 111 communities, eight states and three countries. In 2007, a transformational gift of $400 million by Denny Sanford provided for an expansion of children’s and research initiatives, specifically finding a cure for type 1 diabetes, and has given Sanford Research significant momentum in its goal of becoming one of the premiere research institutions in the United States and the world. Most recently, a subsequent gift of $100 million by Mr. Sanford has paved the way to establish Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Research.

With a team of more than 200 researchers, Sanford Research comprises several research centers, including Children’s Health Research, Edith Sanford Breast Cancer, Cancer Biology, Cardiovascular Health, Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention, and the National Institute for Athletic Health and Performance (NIAHP).

About Augustana

Founded in 1860, Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., is a selective, residential, comprehensive college of the Lutheran Church. Committed to enriching lives and fostering development, Augustana combines a foundation in the liberal arts with professional skill and advanced study, leading the Templeton Guide to include the College among those that inspire students to lead ethical and civic-minded lives. With more than 1,830 students from 35 states and 42 countries, Augustana is featured among “America’s Top Colleges” by Forbes; was ranked among the top 10 baccalaureate colleges in the nation for its efforts to advance social mobility, research and service by Washington Monthly; has been named a “Best Midwestern College” by The Princeton Review; and is identified in Peterson’s “440 Great Colleges for Great Students.”

Tim Gerszewski
Sanford Media Strategist – Sioux Falls Region
(605) 366-2432 /
Follow me on Twitter @SanfordTimG

Kelly Sprecher
Director of Communications & Media Relations – Augustana College
(605) 274-5526 /