MSU was chosen as the recipient of a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that will allow doctoral students in science and engineering to further their education in exciting and innovative ways. Brent Peyton, the university’s director of the Thermal Biology Institute, will act as the project’s leader, while Dana Skorupa, assistant research professor in MSU’s Center of Biofilm Engineering, will take on the role of co-leader. 

“We’re really excited to bring this to MSU,” Skorupa told MSU News Service. “It’s going to prepare our Ph.D. students to tackle complex, multi-faceted research problems and help them develop key skills needed in their future careers.”


The NSF Research Traineeship program will commence next fall and provide funding for 21 doctoral students to study extremophiles. Extremophiles are microorganisms that have become adapted to survive in some of the most hostile and inhospitable locations on the planet. Montana is uniquely suited for the study, given its proximity to Yellowstone National Park, where such organisms flourish in geological hot spots. 

The university has long been recognized for the strength of its research programs. The grant from the NSF is simply another stone in MSU’s successful research endeavors. In fact, the university topped its previous record for annual research expenditures, with an astounding $167 million, for the 2020-21 fiscal year. This statistic is a quantification of MSU’s research power. It has long been not only the state’s leader in research, but has continually been nationally ranked in such matters. 

The NSF has played no small part in reaching such prodigious standing. This year alone, the NSF has been responsible for providing tens of millions of dollars worth of research funding. The organization’s support stretches across a large field of academic disciplines and programs, including but not limited to health and human development, engineering, computer science and business. 

The purpose of a land grant institution, such as MSU, is to provide for the common good through such activities as research and development through a number of fields. The resources provided by the NSF are valuable to the entire academic community of MSU.