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The Thorson Excellence in Engineering Research (TEER) Grants Program was established in 2017 through the generosity of Donald R. Thorson, who earned his degree in chemical engineering from MSU’s College of Engineering class of 1949. 

Mr. Thorson’s gift of $2.7 million has been set up as an endowment with yearly awards of $100,000 given to support MSU COE research objectives. Following discussions with engineering faculty, College of Engineering Dean Brett Gunnink established the TEER Grant Program to apply the endowment and enable faculty to engage in activities that will enhance research opportunities within the college. Each year, faculty will have the opportunity to submit a TEER Grant proposal for evaluation by Dean Gunnink and COE leadership. 

The goals of the TEER program is to enhance:

  • Faculty development. Examples include:
    • Release time to allow faculty members to develop a major new proposal. 
    • Travel-related proposal development with other institutions 
    • Support of a post-doc to facilitate proposal/publications 
  • Center/institute development. Examples include:
    • Funding to pursue center/institute research initiatives
    • Funding to develop or enhance industrial and private sector collaborations
    • Development of opportunities for new centers/institutes within the College of Engineering
  • Research and educational infrastructure. Examples include:
    • Purchase of research equipment
    • Software acquisition

TEER and Bryan grant applications are generally due in March of each year and should be sent to Beth Varnes at Award announcements are typically made in May. For questions and specific deadlines, contact Beth Varnes.

  1. Faculty members submit requests for a TEER or Bryan grant to Beth Varnes at In the request, they will describe the activity they propose to engage in and indicate if the activity will occur for Fall, Spring, Summer semesters (or combination). The proposal should include a brief (two-page) overview that clearly describes how the proposed activities will enhance one or more of the goals of the TEER and/or Bryan Grants Program. The submission must also include a budget summary, two-page CV from each Principal Investigator involved, and a statement of time devoted to the project. Please combine these items into one document in PDF format. If the budget includes a course release (tenure track faculty), the course release should be budgeted at $9,500 per course ($7,000 per course + $2,500 for benefits). Other budget requests that include faculty time must include the associated benefit cost. Summer salary (include benefits at 20%) is permitted for both grants and will provide a maximum of one month. Extra compensation cannot be included, however incentives such as provision of travel funds is allowable if fully justified in the proposal.
  2. The proposals will be shared with the college Academic Council members. The Academic Council members will review all requests and submit a prioritized list. Prioritization should address how the proposals will have a substantial impact on the goals of the TEER and Bryan Grant Programs. This prioritization information will be provided to the Dean. The Dean may consider input from others in the college for their ranking. The Dean and the Associate Deans will make the final decision. Faculty will be notified of the decision.
  3. Faculty who are successful in securing a TEER or Bryan grant will be expected to submit a one-page statement of accomplishments to the Dean within 30 days of grant completion. Final report summaries will be posted on the college website.

Grant History

2023-2024 Thorson Grant Awards
Grant title
Principal investigators
Award amount

Research Equipment Purchase Support for 3D Printed Multiplex Microfluidic Electrochemical Biosensors for Early Cancer Diagnosis

Yang Cao, Elizabeth Johnson, Stephanie McCalla


3D Vision for Precision Agriculture

Ross Snider, David Arathorn


Pursuing NIH Funding for GSoC: Improving RNA Assembly

Lucia Williams, Brendan Mumey


Teaching Programming to Non-CS/CE Students: An Adaptive Learning Framework Approach

Ali Yalcin, Brock LaMeres, Mary Ann Cummings


Curriculum Revision of the BS in Industrial and Management Systems Engineering

Ali Yalcin, Bernadette McCrory, Sage Kittelman, Yang Cao, Faraz Dadgostari, Staci Turoski


2022-2023 Thorson Grant Awards
Grant title Principal investigators Award amount
A Novel 19F/1H Dual Tuning Super Wide Bore Radio Frequency Probe to Study Energy Transport in Porous Media with Near- and Supercritical Fluids by MRI Joseph Seymour, Sarah Codd $25,000
Thorson Excellence in Engineering Research Grant Proposal to Support Purchase of a FlowCam 8100 for the CBE/MSU Microscopy Core Facility Philip Stewart, Ross Carlson, Matthew Fields, Cat Kirkland, Ellen Lauchnor, Otto Stein, Paul Sturman $24,170
Center for Equity in Engineering within MSU's NACOE Submitted to the Thorson Excellence in Engineering Research (TEER) Program Paul Gannon, Sweeney Windchief $25,000
ICAL Request for Support to Acquire a Field-Emission Scanning electron Microscope (FESEM) David Dickensheets, David Mogk $20,000
Classroom- and Field-based, Mobile Eye Tracking for Collaborative Teaching and Research within the College of Nursing and Engineeering Bernadette McCrory, Elizabeth Johnson $25,000
Pilot of Mindfulness Based Faculty Mentorship Training Program Jennifer Brown $10,000
Fostering National and International Collaborations Resulting in Biofilm- Biomaterial- and Algal Bietechnolgy- focused Engineering and research Center Proposal Development Robin Gerlach $9,500
  Total: $138,670
2021-2022 Thorson Grant Awards
Grant title Principal investogators Award amount
Pilot of the Mindfulness Based Graduate Mentroship Program Jennifer Brown $10,000
Development of a New Undrained Dynamic Torsional Shear Test Device to Measure the Static and Cyclic Shear Strength of Soils at Large Deformation Mohammad Khosravi, Steve Perkins $25,000
Solubility Studies for Fundamental Preliminary Data Stephanie Wettstein $10,000
Indian Education for All (IEFA) in Engineering: Faculty Development to Enhance Research, Teaching, and Service Paul Gannon, Sweeney Windchief $25,000
  Total: $70,000
2020-2021 Thorson Grant Awards
Grant title Principal investigators Award amount
Markerless Motion Capture System for Multi-Scale Multi-Modal Locomotion Mark Jankauski, Erick Johnson, Ron June, Scott Monfort, Corey Pew


Expanding Cross College Research Capacity Through Acquisition of a Temperature-Controlled Probe Stage for the New Confocal Raman Microscope Christine Foreman, Kevin Hammonds, Stephan Warnat, Heidi Smith, and Markus Dieser


Developing/Improving the Communication Skills of Undergraduate Students

Jennifer Brown and Stephanie Wettstein

2019-2020 Thorson Grant Awards
Grant title
Principal investigators
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Advancing On-Chip Exosome Profiling for the Montana Health Care and Biomedical Community  
Anja Kunze, Stephanie McCalla
Initiating a Cybersecurity Research Program within the NACOE 
Brock LaMeres, Clem Izurieta, Ross Snider, Michael Neeley
Development of 3D Printing for Multi-Material Hierarchical Design 
Cecily Ryan, Stephan Warnat, James Wilking
2018-2019 Thorson Grant Awards
Grant title
Principal investigators
Award amount
Enabling the Study of Life in Ice
Christine Foreman
International Collaborative Research: MSU and the University of Stuttgart
Adie Phillips, Catherine Kirkland, Robin Gerlach, Al Cunningham
Toward a Center for Systems Biology Engineering
Ron June, Brendan Mumey, Ross Carlson
Micro-Sensors Fabrication and Testing in the MSU – SubZero Facility to Measure Biological Activity
Stephan Warnat, Christine Foreman, Kevin Hammonds
2017-2018 Thorson Grant Awards
Grant title
Principal Investigators
Award amount
Expanding Cryo-materials & Bio-materials Research at Montana State University with the Acquisition of a Cryo-stage for the Zeiss Scanning Electron Microscope
Kevin Hammonds, Adie Phillips
Building Education Research Capacity within the College of Engineering
Brock LaMeres, Paul Gannon, William Schell
Laying the Groundwork for a NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) in Optical Sensing Systems
Joe Shaw, Ross Snider


For more information contact Elizabeth Varnes, Special Assistant to the Dean,