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NSF Research Grant Helps USD Professor in Fight Against Counterfeiting

Stanley May Stanley May, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry at USD, received a $3 million grant from NSF.

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Stanley May, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry at the University of South Dakota, is part of a research team from the Center for Security Printing and Anti-Counterfeiting Technology (SPACT) that has been awarded a $3 million grant to train graduate students in research areas with applications in combating counterfeiting and document fraud.

The project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through their Research Traineeship (NRT) program. The NRT program funds projects that are designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models for STEM graduate education training. Successful NRT projects explore ways for graduate students to develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers.

The grant awarded to the SPACT team is to fund a project entitled, “Cyber-Physical-Social System for Understanding and Thwarting the Illicit Economy.” In addition to May, the research team includes Jon Kellar and Grant Crawford from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology; Ashley Podhradsky, Dakota State University; and Brian Logue, South Dakota State University.

The project includes identifying counterfeit items, such as pharmaceuticals, through the use of nanoparticle-based inks with unique markings to identify authentic goods.

“The role of USD is to apply nanotechnology to develop complete systems for verification of authenticity of a wide variety of documents and products," said May. “Our students will be trained within traditional research disciplines, but as members of an interdisciplinary team seeking a common purpose.”

This NSF award is one of 17 projects in total that include $51 million in funding tied to the NRT program.


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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 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson 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 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News