Engineered Living Materials (ELM)

see notice

The Engineered Living Materials (ELM) program will develop design tools and methods that enable the engineering of structural features into cellular systems that function as living materials, thereby opening up a newdesign space for construction technology. These methods will be validated through the production of living materials that display hallmarks of biological systems, such as the ability to actively sense and respond to the environment, or to heal after damage. Successful completion of ELM program objectives will require innovations in the ability to functionally unite living components with inert structural materials, to program structural features into living systems, and to extend the scale of synthetic biology building blocks from the molecular to the cellular. The deliverables from this program will comprise a suite of technologies that enable the production of living structural materials tailored to design specifications, such as those provided by architects and builders.

The structural materials that are used to construct our homes, buildings, and infrastructure are expensive to produce and transport, are subject to damage due to environmental insults and aging, and have limited ability to respond to changes in the immediate surroundings. As a result, the energy and financial costs of building and infrastructure construction and repair, to both the DoD and the nation, are enormous. Living biological materials may have advantages over inert materials, in that they might be grown on-site from simple feed stocks under ambient conditions, self-repair when damaged, or respond to changes in their surroundings. The inclusion of living components in our built environments has obvious benefits; however, today we are unable to control the structural aspects (shapes and sizes) of living materials so that they can be useful for construction. The ELM program seeks to deliver technologies that will enable the addition of living structural materials into our built environments. Such novel materials would reduce the energy and financial burden associated with the manufacture and transport of materials to construction sites, since they will be able to grow on-site from natural feedstocks. Furthermore, as they will contain elements that are alive, the resulting structures will be endowed with the ability to self-repair and respond appropriately to changes in the environment.

A major inspiration for the ELM program is the recent development of biologically-sourced structural materials that are grown to specified size and shape from inexpensive feedstocks. For example, mycelia can be grown on agricultural byproducts to produce materials that are drop-in replacements for polystyrene. Similarly, bacteria can be used to bind sand to produce drop-in replacements for bricks. That factory-scale production of grown materials can be economically competitive with materials as common as polystyrene and brick, demonstrates the feasibility of using biological approaches to reduce the energy and waste associated with the manufacture of structural materials. However, as the final products are rendered inert during the manufacturing process, these early examples of grown materials retain few of the benefits of the biological components they contain; for example, the ability to respond to environmental cues or to selfrepair.

DARPA is seeking technologies that enable the engineering of hybrid materials composed of structural scaffolds that support the rapid growth and long-term viability of living cells that endow the final products with biological functions. These materials should exhibit aspects of both the inert grown materials that are being produced today at the factory scale, such as structural integrity, as well as those of living systems, such as self-repair. The platform technologies developed in the ELM program are intended to be scalable and generalizable, so as to be transitioned from the lab to industry in the near-term.

In addition, DARPA seeks the ability to engineer structural properties directly into the genomes of biological systems, so that living materials can be grown from progenitor cells (e.g., seeds), without the need of non-living scaffolds or external developmental cues. To address this goal, it will be necessary to program developmental pathways that result in multicellular systems with defined patterns and 3D shapes. The ability of multicellular organisms to develop and maintain defined body plans is evidence of the inherent potential of genetically-programmed biological structures. However, it is not yet possible to engineer these properties de novo. To enable genetic programming of multicellular morphology, synthetic biology will need to advance toward the engineering of multicellular systems derived from a single genotype. It is expected that successful proposers will not only create new advances in synthetic biology, but also leverage the state-ofthe- art in experimental and/or theoretical developmental biology.

Through ELM, DARPA seeks to cultivate foundational principles, as well as novel approaches and methods that will ultimately enable living structural materials with advanced capabilities to be rationally designed, and implemented through genetic engineering. DARPA has identified five fundamental capabilities that can conceivably be used in combination to enable the invention of a wide range of living materials of arbitrary form and function. The demonstration of these fundamental capabilities will form the major deliverables of the program, and are:
(1) on-site growth, maintenance, and reproduction of a living structural material on inexpensive feedstock;
(2) the precise coordination of cells and inert particles to form tunable multi-scale patterns;
(3) the ability to self-repair in response to damage;
(4) genetically programmed multicellular patterns; and
(5) genetically programmed multicellular 3D shapes.

Farewell OSP’s Diane Brown

OSP is saddened by the passing of Diane Brown last weekend. Known to many of the faculty as an outgoing contract negotiator, she helped organize many of the research contracts in play today and over the last decade. Her obit can be found here.

Diane Marie Brown
(June 29, 1964 – August 6, 2016)

Army: Cyber Deception

see notice $1,250,000

The MURI program supports basic research in science and engineering at U.S. institutions of higher education (hereafter referred to as “universities”) that is of potential interest to DoD. The program is focused onmultidisciplinary research efforts where more than one traditional discipline interacts to provide rapid advances in scientific areas of interest to the DoD. DoD’s basic research program invests broadly in many specific fields to ensure that it has early cognizance of new scientific knowledge.

Objective: To establish a scientific foundation for modeling adversarialcognitive states and decision-making processes, identify information metrics for driving cognitive state change by deception, and create an integrated framework of information composition and projection to manipulate adversaries’cognitive state and decision-making process that provides a future basis for active cyber defense.

Research Concentration Areas: Multidisciplinary participation is expected from SMEs in psychology, social-cognitive sciences, dynamic game theory, machine learning, statistics, and computer science. Potential topics include but are not limited to: 1) Psychological and social-cultural adversarial cognitivemodels that can be used to estimate and predict adversarial cognitive states and decision processes; 2) Adversary observation/learning schemes through both active multi-level “honey bait” systems and passive observation, in conjunction with active learning and reasoning to deal with partial information and uncertainties; 3) Metrics for quantifying deception effectiveness in driving adversary cognitive state and in determining optimized deception information composition and projection; 4) Theoretical formulation for a one-shot or multiple rounds of attacker/defender interaction models that can fully capture the rich dynamics of cyber deception; 5) Identify social/cultural factors in cognitivestate estimation and decision-making leverage process; 6) Formulation of deception information and projection based on cognitive models and effective metrics.

SERDP: Energetic Materials

see notice $200,000

The objective of this Statement of Need (SON) is to develop innovative synthetic approaches to produce energetic materials and their precursors that will eliminate or drastically reduce hazardous waste streams from thenitration processes that are widely used in manufacturing energetic materials. Typical nitration processes of aromatic compounds, amines, and alcohols to produce C-Nitro, N-Nitro or Nitrate ester based energetics involve large quantities of strong acids (sulfuric and nitric) and produce large quantities of hazardous wastes. Solvents used in the preparation of these compounds are contaminated with the energetic material, hazardous reagents, or reaction by-products and are not easily recycled. In addition, typical nitration reactions require rigorous temperature control and are therefore energy intensive processes.

Proposals should focus on one of the following processes:
– Synthesis of an aromatic/heteroaromatic nitro compound (e.g. TNT, DNAN)
– Synthesis of a nitramine (e.g. RDX, HMX, CL-20)
– Synthesis of a nitrate ester (plasticizer) (NG, TMETN, etc. or nitrocellulose)

Proposals also will be considered for more broad-based research to develop the fundamentals of synthetic methodologies as related to energetic materials with no specific targeted compounds. Proposed methodologies will need to be innovative and need to go beyond the previously investigated methods of recycle and reuse of solvents/reagents. This could include solid phase synthesis for aromatic nitration, nitramine, nitrate ester formation, or oxidation of amines to nitro groups.

In the past, SERDP has explored electrochemical and biological methodologies as well as hybrid pathways involving combinations of synthetic biological and organic synthesis to produce energetic materials or to explore novel nitration pathways. Proposers for this SON should focus on methods that minimize or eliminate solvents and that do not involve biological or electrochemical methods.

NSF: Environmental Sustainability

see notice $300,000

The goal of the Environmental Sustainability program is to promote sustainable engineered systems that support human well-being and that are also compatible with sustaining natural (environmental) systems. These systems provide ecological services vital for human survival. Research efforts supported by the program typically consider long time horizons and may incorporate contributions from the social sciences and ethics. The program supports engineering research that seeks to balance society’s need to provide ecological protection and maintain stable economic conditions.

There are four principal general research areas that are supported:
– Industrial Ecology: Topics of interest in Industrial Ecology include advancements in modeling such as life cycle assessment, materials flow analysis, input/output economic models, and novel metrics for measuring sustainable systems. Innovations in industrial ecology are encouraged.
– Green Engineering: Research is encouraged to advance the sustainability of manufacturing processes, green buildings, and infrastructure. Many programs in the Engineering Directorate support research in environmentally benign manufacturing or chemical processes. The Environmental Sustainability program supports research that would affect more than one chemical or manufacturing process or that takes a systems or holistic approach to green engineering for infrastructure or green buildings. Improvements in distribution and collection systems that will advance smart growth strategies and ameliorate effects of growth are research areas that are supported by Environmental Sustainability. Innovations in management of storm water, recycling and reuse of drinking water, and other green engineering techniques to support sustainability may also be fruitful areas for research.
– Ecological Engineering: Topics should focus on the engineering aspects of restoring ecological function to natural systems. Engineering research in enhancement of natural capital to foster sustainable development is encouraged.
– Earth Systems Engineering: Earth Systems Engineering considers aspects of large scale engineering research that involve mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to climate change, and other global scale concerns.

All proposed research should be driven by engineering principles, and be presented explicitly in an environmental sustainability context. Proposals should include involvement in engineering research of at least one graduate student, as well as undergraduates. Incorporation of aspects of social, behavioral, and economic sciences is welcomed.

Proposals should address the novelty and/or potentially transformative nature of the proposed work compared to previous work in the field. Also, it is important to address why the proposed work is important in terms of engineering science, as well as to also project the potential impact on society and/or industry of success in the research. The novelty or potentially transformative nature of the research should be included, as a minimum, in the Project Summary of each proposal.

Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program proposals are strongly encouraged.

Proposals for Conferences, Workshops, and Supplements

Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID) and EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) are also considered when appropriate.

Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) proposals that integrate fundamental research with translational results and are consistent with the application areas of interest to each program are also encouraged.

EPA: Modeling of Climate Change Mitigation, Impacts and Adaptation

see notice $100,000

EPA seeks proposals from eligible entities to advance the state of computable general equilibrium (CGE) modeling of the U.S. economy and integrated assessment modeling of global climate change. A focus of this work is to enhance understanding of climate change impacts and their economic implications to assist decision makers and the public in effectively responding to the economic challenges and opportunities posed by climate change. Another focus is on adaptation to climate change. This funding is intended improve the economy-wide modeling of climate at a disaggregated regional level within the United States, and for many different household types. EPA seeks proposals from entities with the in-house capability to use both an established integrated assessment model (IAM) and an established, disaggregated CGE model of the U.S. The proposal should demonstrate how the capability to run both IAM and CGE models will aid in the goal of representing climate change impacts within the CGE model. EPA is interested in proposals to improve the capabilities of existing CGE models. Applicant’s proposals must demonstrate understanding and expertise in the field of computable general equilibrium modeling and in linking climate impact models, sector mitigation models, and electricity sector dispatch models with CGE models. The proposal must detail the applicant’s plans for model development of and improvement to an existing CGE model.

The applicant must demonstrate the extent to which their existing CGE has the following capabilities and detail how their proposal will enhance the following features:
1. Comprehensive economy-wide modeling capability, with emissions and mitigation of the six major greenhouse gases (i.e., carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)) linked to specific production sectors, such as the electric power sector, transportation sector, service sectors, etc.
2. Highly disaggregated regionally, capable of representing the economics of climate mitigation and climate impacts in many sub-national regions of the United States.
3. Capability of representing the impacts of international climate policies on the economy of the United States through the modeling of international trade.
4. Highly disaggregated household sector, capable of representing the economics of climate mitigation and climate impacts on many types of households.
5. Capability of linking the economy-wide model to detailed sector models of the electric power sector to represent mitigation opportunities and climate impacts on that sector as well as feedbacks to the rest of the economy.

Additionally, applicants should describe their capability to use comprehensive, integrated modeling and assessment of multiple greenhouse gases (GHGs) and air pollutants, and to also enhance understanding of climate change impacts and their economic implications to assist decision makers and the public to effectively respond to the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change. Applicants’ proposals must demonstrate enhanced understanding of Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs), climate change impacts, and economic valuation techniques. This RFP is intended to support the improvement of existing IAMs. Proposals must utilize an existing IAM that combines both the socio-economic and earth system (atmosphere, land, and ocean) components of climate change at the global and national levels.

NIST: Disaster Resilience (DR) Research Grants Program

see notice $300,000

The Disaster Resilience (DR) Research Grants Program seeks applications from eligible applicants to conduct research aimed at advancing the principles of resilience in building design and building codes and standards.Research proposals must support the overall effort of developing science-based building codes by evaluating potential technologies and architectural design criteria to improve disaster resilience in the built environment.

Research projects must be aligned with existing NIST Engineering Laboratory (EL) Disaster Resilience programs, as described below.:
a. National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program and Structural Performance under Multi-Hazard Program. These two programs support research to improve the understanding of windstorms (hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, and others) and coastal flooding events (storm surge and tsunamis), their impacts, and impact mitigation, including: (1) the quantification of these hazards and associated loads, including by computational fluid dynamics techniques; (2) the quantification of the impacts of windstorms, including identification of causes and trends in loss of life from windstorms; and (3) the design, construction, and retrofit of buildings, structures, and lifelines to resist these hazards.

b. Disaster and Failure Studies Program. This program’s research is in the areas of disaster and failure studies, and includes the development of innovative measurement methods and technologies to collect or to characterize the measurement uncertainty of data from field studies.

c. Wildland Urban Interface Fire Program. This program develops, advances, and deploys measurement science to quantify the generation of vegetative and structural firebrands, investigate the ignition of fuels by firebrands within communities, and better characterize the exposure of structures to firebrand flux in order to reduce the risk of fire spread in wildland-urban interface (WUI) communities.

d. National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. The program conducts research in the areas of earthquake impact reduction (including engineering for existing buildings and physical infrastructure/lifelines). Specific areas of research include (1) developing improved analytical models and simulation capabilities to evaluate existing building vulnerabilities and collapse risk under strong earthquake shaking through analytical and/or experimental studies, including study of older non-ductile masonry, structural steel or reinforced concrete buildings or building elements; (2) developing potential cost effective solutions to mitigate earthquake vulnerabilities in existing buildings through the use of new materials, innovative practices or other means; (3) developing improved techniques, tools, and guidelines to assess civil lifelines (e.g., underground water pipes) at both the individual component and system scales to improve resilience; and (4) developing improved techniques, tools, and guidelines for modeling and evaluating soil liquefaction effects on buildings and civil lifeline systems to mitigate their impact.

next step in TBI research: SLU Neuroscience Seminar/ AENC meeting

Campus has been working with Fort Leonard Wood’s hospital, Phelps County Regional Medical Center and other academic institutions to create a research portfolio addressing traumatic brain injuries (concussions included) which is an emerging research investment area in both civilian and military circles.

The next gathering is an all-day event hosted by St Louis University of September 7th to focus both on establishing the teams of experts to generate collaborative projects/proposals and the organization structure now labeled AENC (Acute Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium)

We are organizing a bus trip for those that would like to attend — contact Tupper.


  • Host:
    Thomas M. Malone
  • Phone:

Research & Technology Development Conference

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S&T stood up it research support services six years ago and it has become the model in the Midwest. Putting all this in front of campus for a two-day event is one of the best ways S&T can institutionally support your work.  Register – come – and grab these enviable capabilities.  I strongly encourage you to attend and bring your research students. You may invite your off-campus collaborators. But register now so we can do a great job in making this happen.

Deadly Sky: The American Combat Airman in World War II,

Professor John McManus’s latest publication.

Deadly Sky: The American Combat Airman in World War II by [McManus, John C.]