USD researchers honored with Nelson Faculty Research Grant

VERMILLION, S.D. -- University of South Dakota researchers Gina Forster and Ranjit Koodali are the recipients of a $12,000 grant from the Nelson Faculty Research Grant Committee of the USD Graduate School for their proposal, “Developing Nanotechnology to Deliver Neuropeptides to the Brain.”

Forster, Ph.D., associate professor of basic biomedical sciences, and Koodali, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, are working together to develop a different drug delivery method for the anti-anxiety drug antisauvagine (ASV). In addition to developing a new delivery method for ASV, the project will utilize the assistance of undergraduate and graduate students in the lab and provides an opportunity for additional funding through the National Institute of Health.

“The overall quality of the experimental design, student involvement and the potential for external funding were considered excellent reasons to award the 2012 Nelson Endowment Faculty Research Grant to this project,” stated Laurie J. Becvar, Senior Associate Provost and Dean of the USD Graduate School. “Moreover, the interdisciplinary collaboration between the two outstanding faculty members from biomedical science and chemistry meets the tenants of the memorandum of understanding for this endowment.” 

The endowment for this award was created through the generosity of Joseph F. Nelson and Martha P. Nelson and provides grant monies for fostering interdisciplinary research at USD.

Forster’s research interests include the study of neurobiology that underlies anxiety states and addiction. Her National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded research examines the neurobiological and behavioral interaction between stress and drug abuse, with a major focus on monoamine and neuroendocrine systems and anxiety behaviors. Forster's collaboration with Drs. Raluca Gaher and Jeffrey Simons in the USD Department of Psychology is conducting Department of Defense funded research to understand the behavioral, cognitive and neural associations between post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol use and abuse in veterans.

Koodali’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation - South Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). His research is focused on the development of novel materials for applications ranging from antibacterial activity, catalysis, drug delivery, environmental remediation, to solar energy conversion and storage and thermal insulators.

Download a photo of Koodali and download a photo of Forster.

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Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 206 undergraduate and 71 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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