CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., announced Sunday that nearly $3 million in federal funds will go to West Virginia University to help support doctoral students studying nanotechnology.Nanotechnology involves studying and manipulating materials on an atomic and molecular scale. The science works to create and improve materials with a wide range of applications in areas such as medicine, electronics and energy production.Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said the new funds will help WVU students to study the impact of nanomaterials on human health and the environment.Nanotechnological research can discover new insights into improving batteries, catalysts, solar fuel cells and green fuels."Enabling our students to master new fields and innovate will not only help them thrive, but it will allow our communities and West Virginia to grow as well," Rockefeller said in a news release."This grant is not only about innovation, but about knowing how to use these new materials wisely ... . By helping West Virginia support new science research at all levels, we are also supporting long-term growth in our economy and building great jobs for our kids."The funds for WVU students will come from the National Science Foundation's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program to train PhD students in science and engineering.
Rockefeller said the new research program could have positive impacts on health care, information technology, energy, homeland security, food safety and transportation.As a senator, Rockefeller has a history of supporting advanced education in science, technology, engineering and math -- known as STEM subjects.In the past, Rockefeller:• Led efforts in the Senate to create and fund the Noyce Scholarship program, aimed at convincing science, math and engineering majors to teach at elementary and secondary school levels. If students agree, they can get scholarships for their junior and senior years in college.Since the program was created in 2002, it has provided funds to help train nearly 10,000 teachers who have taught students in some of the nation's highest-need school districts.• Created the Math and Science Partnership Program 10 years ago to fund grants to test innovative ways to teach science and math. This year, the program is providing $113 million in scholarships for math and science students.• Supported the National Science Foundation's EPSCoR (Office of Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) program to build science and technological research infrastructure for higher education institutions in states, including West Virginia.Since 2000, EPSCoR has brought more than $900 million in federal academic research and development investments in states across the country.Reach Paul J. Nyden at email@example.com or 304-348-5164.