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ASU’s ‘Decode’ Project Gets $2M Federal Grant

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Researchers at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro have been awarded a $2 million grant for a project aimed at understanding disease ecology and invasive species biology.

The funds from the National Science Foundation will be used to train an interdisciplinary teams of scientists, ASU said in a news release. The “Decode” project, as its known, is said to be the first of its kind to explicitly address the need to combine expertise from various fields to enhance the understanding of ecology and evolution among newly-interacting species.

The project hopes to address the critical roles of global awareness, information systems, and predictive modeling to tackle growing issues regarding invasive species and diseases.

Travis Marsico, professor of botany in Department of Biological Sciences, is the principal investigator for the project. He said the project’s focus is “timely and incredibly important to help solve some of society’s pressing problems.”

“The interdisciplinary nature of our program will allow us to make important discoveries, advance science, and train a diverse scientific workforce,” he said in the release.

On a local level, the project is expected to result in growth in the university’s doctoral programs. Grant activities will include professional development institutes, data science boot camps, mentorship networks and opportunities to conduct science abroad.

“In addition to the research training for Ph.D. students that will result, our faculty will be engaged in cutting-edge research that is both basic and applied in nature,” said Tom Risch, vice provost for research and technology transfer.

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