Programs & Awards

CRDF/GRDF has established a strong track record of implementing major programs to strengthen the foundation of Georgia’s knowledge-based economy and increase its international competitiveness. Over the past fifteen years, with funding primarily from the U.S. Department of State, as well as NSF, NIH, and cost-sharing from the Government of Georgia, CRDF/GRDF has committed over $7.5 million to over 170 projects engaging more than 675 Georgian researchers, 175 of which are former weapons researchers.

GRDF Programs

GRDF and CRDF announced three times Georgia – U.S. Bilateral Grant Program (BGP) aimed development of collaboration between Georgian and US scientists in all directions of fundamental and applied science. Project proposals envisaged a joint research of Georgian and the US scientific teams. The highest priority was given to proposals included former weapon scientists and young specialists. Based on Georgian and US individual experts’ review, totally 38 meritorious projects were awarded. 

The program aimed to support young Georgian scientists and engineers to explore their research ideas and work with a U.S. host who was able to provide access to the facilities of a modern and well-equipped U.S. laboratory. Program was designed to enable young Georgian scientists and engineers to identify and develop new contacts, which would promote further collaboration between Georgian and U.S. scientists.

In 2003, 2005 and 2006, the Georgian Travel Fellowship Program (TFP) was announced. On competitive basis, young scientists and engineers had an opportunity to work on their research in the U.S well-equipped scientific labs and universities.

Awarded projects » 2003 2005 2006

U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation (CRDF), Georgia National Science Foundation (GNSF) and Georgian Research and Development Foundation (GRDF) announced the Georgian National Science Scholars (NSS) Program and sponsored on a competitive basis, one year grants to young researchers for a) 2-3 month lab visits to a U.S. host and b) 9-10 months of research support and individual financial support to bring new skills and insights back to their Georgian lab groups.

The goals of the program were to support early career development of talented young Georgian scholars, strengthen the perceived status of science and engineering as a career in Georgia, and strengthen U.S.–Georgian collaborations.

GNSS 2007 | GNSS 2008

Short Term Travel Grant Program for Georgian Scientists and Engineers 2004

The Georgian Research and Development Foundation provided awards of up to $3,000USD on a competitive basis to promising scientists and engineers from Georgia to facilitate their participation in selected international events such as conferences, workshops, and meetings of scientific and engineering professional societies in the United States and other countries with U.S. co-organization/participation.

The aim of this program was to establish and strengthen scientific collaboration between the Georgian and U.S. scientific communities and to provide opportunities for Georgian scientists to attend prestigious international conferences, workshops, and meetings. As a rule, only one participant was supported for each conference.

  • Applicants could request travel funds to attend any international scientific conference, workshop, or meeting that included U.S. participants working in the same field as the applicant (i.e. potential U.S. contacts or collaborators). Preference was given to activities held in the U.S.
  • Applicants could request up to $3000USD to be used for the following travel costs: international airfare, visa fees, per diem (including lodging), health insurance, and ground transportation.
  • Applicants had to provide confirmation from the conference organizers that they waived conference fees and accepted the applicant’s request to make a presentation (Poster/Oral) at the conference.

The awardees:

Mikheil Tsiklauri, Institute of Applied Mathematics, TSU
“19th International Conference on Numerical Simulations of Plasmas and 7th Asia Pacific Plasma Theory Conference” (Nara, Japan; July12-15, 2005)

Ioseb Metskhvarishvili, Tbilisi State University, Department of Physics
“24th International Conference of Low Temperature Physics” (Orlando, Florida, USA; August 10-17, 2005)

Nino Partsvania, Razmadze Mathematical Institute of GAS
“Conference on Differential & Difference Equations and Applications” (Melbourne, Florida, USA; August 1-5, 2005)

Natela Nadiradze, Robakidze University, Thrombosis Research Center
“Fifth Bari International Conference on Hemophilia and Allied Disorders, von Willebrand Factor” (Foggia, Italy; May 22-25, 2005)

Merab Buadze, Tbilisi State Medical University
“Scientific Session of Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons” (Hollywood, Florida, USA; April 13-16, 2005)

Tamaz Kaladze, Institute of Applied Mathematics, TSU
“Second International Conference on the Frontiers of Plasma Physics and Technology”, (Go a, India, February 21-25, 2005)

Barbara Kilosanidze, Institute of Cybernetics, GAS
“Conference on Practical Holography XIX Materials and Applications”, (San Jose, CA USA; January 22-27, 2005)

Tamar Tchelidze, Tbilisi State University, Department of Material Sciences
“The 32nd International Symposium on Compound Semiconductors” (Rust, Germany; September 19, 2005)

Elguja Kutelia, Georgian Technical University, Center for Structure Researches
“International Congress of Nanotechnology 2005″ (San Francisco, USA; October 31-November 4, 2005)

The Georgian Research and Development Foundation sponsored, on a competitive basis, international scientific meetings or conferences on a topic in the basic or applied sciences. The meeting(s) were held at Georgian institutions. Grant sizes averaged $7,000 for this program.

The main goals of this initiative were to establish and strengthen scientific collaboration between the Georgian and U.S. scientific communities; help to renew contacts that existed before the break-up of the former Soviet Union between scientists and engineers of the South Caucasus countries and to promote their integration with the international scientific community.

Awarded projects:

Nodar Kekelidze, Tbilisi State University, Department of Physics
“Problems of Rivers Monitoring and Ecological Safety of Southern Caucasus“
September 22-25, 2005

George Chakhunashvili, The Social Pediatrics Protection Foundation SPPF
“Children Nutrition and Medical Treatment in 21 st Century with Standpoint of Ecology”
September 9, 2005

Zurab Javakhishvili, United Survey for Seismic Protection, Institute of Geophysics
“Seismicity and Seismic Hazard of Southern Caucasus”
August 2-4, 2005

Dimitri Pataridze, Caucasian Institute of Mineral Resources
“International Workshop on Geological Structure and Mineral Resources of Caucasus, Crimea and Carpathians, Geological Atlas of Caucasus and its Adjacent Territories”
May 16-19, 2005

Giorgi Oniashvili, Tavadze Institute of Metallurgy and Materials Science
“Prospective of Developing and Practical Application of SHS in South Caucasus”
March 14-17, 2005

Neli Makhviladze, Georgian Research Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (Techinformi)
“Electronic Information Resources for Scientists and Engineers”
November 19-20, 2004.

The Georgian Research and Development Foundation (GRDF), the U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation (CRDF), and the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia announced the Georgian Centers of Research and Education (CoRE) program.

The goals of the CoRE were to integrate research into the academic curriculum, to increase research opportunities for students and junior scientists, and to support advanced, high quality research and openly accessible laboratory facilities that stimulate institutional collaborations.

The Georgian CoRE program provided up to US$300,000 on a competitive basis for one Center of Research and Education (CoRE) to be established at a Georgian state university. Funding for this program came from both Georgian and U.S. sources.

Program Announcement

Awarded Project

Project Title: Exploring biodiversity of the Caucasian “biodiversity hotspot” with modern molecular-genetic methods and analytical tools
Project director: David Tarkhnishvili
Institutional name: Ilia Chavchavadze State University
Center Name: Center of biodiversity studies at the Faculty of Life Sciences

Abstract

The essence of the CoRE Project “Center of biodiversity studies at the Faculty of Life Sciences, I. Chavchavadze State University – Exploring biodiversity of the Caucasian “biodiversity hotspot” with modern molecular-genetic methods and analytical tools” was creation of laboratory complex devoted to the exploring of biodiversity of the Caucasus Biodiversity Hotspot. The complex of the laboratories/equipment includes:

  1. Equipment for field research, including transportation means, ordinary field equipment (such as knapsacks, tents etc.) and specific equipment (including GPS devices, digital cameras, traps and similar);
  2. Computer lab, for GIS analysis and modeling of the species distribution, and computer-based simulation modeling of population processes;
  3. Biometric lab, for morphological study of organisms and individual structures, including optics (microscopes, binoculars, high-resolution digital cameras, calipers), a 3-d scanner for obtaining 3-dimensional images, and software/hardware for processing data, including those needed for modern geometric morphometry;
  4. Molecular genetic lab, including equipment/devices/ basic chemicals necessary for molecular genetic studies, including DNA extraction from plant and animal tissues, amplification of DNA fragments using PCR, sequencing of DNA fragments, and scoring genotypes (for instance microsatellite genotypes);
  5. Optionally – other equipment. These complex labs are simultaneously devoted for:

Biodiversity research, including evolutionary studies (e.g. historical biogeography/phylogeography, but not only) and conservation-oriented population studies;
Introducing students into the modern methods of biodiversity studies. This complex of equipment allows a researcher to develop a full-scale research which results are both publishable in leading scientific journals and applicable to particular conservation programs.

Combination of habitat analysis using GIS, population study using molecular genetics, simulation modeling population processes, and morphometric analysis more or less covers the needs of modern ecological research. One should add that, if the enumerated methods, in particular molecular genetic methods, are widely used for ecological studies in the western universities, are still almost absent from the universities of the post-Soviet space, and completely absent from the countries of the Caucasus Regions. Because the Caucasus is one of the 36 worldwide biodiversity hotspots, development of a first complex of modern biodiversity laboratories is particularly important.

Laboratory building and operation.
GIS and morphometric labs started to operate by the end of 2007, and molecular genetic lab started to operate in June, 2008. After summer, 2008 all laboratories of the center are completely operable and used for execution of the projects, including those financed by CoRE and those supported by other foundations (see below). Since spring 2008, the labs were intensively used for university courses in the field of ecology, statistics, conservation biology, and population biology.

Teaching at the center.
The capacities of the center are intensively used in the teaching in the university, in particular for MSc and PhD in Ecology and conservation biology. In particular, Computer lab of the Center (aimed for GIS modeling and simulation modeling of population processes) is used for teaching courses “Population Biology”, “Statistics for Ecologists” and “GIS for ecologists”. Molecular genetic lab is used for visualization of teaching courses “Population Biology” and “Methods of Evolutionary Studies”. Transportation means and field equipment is used for field excursions for the MSc students.

Training research personnel and students.
Within the framework of this Project, three PhD students and two MSc students were trained in the western universities/research centers for further application of the related methods at the Center. The aim of the training was both gaining experience in the management of a molecular genetic laboratory and executing of parts of the research projects of the center, in particular optimizing PCR conditions for rare/ unstudied taxa and “difficult” genes.

Research.
Capacities of the Biodiversity Research Center are currently used for: one project supported by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; two projects supported by GNSF; two projects (2007-2008) supported by BP conservation programs and currently completed; two individual student projects, one of that supported by GRDF; one project (completed in 2007) supported by WWF Caucasus Office
Within the framework of the project, it was developed: GIS-based models of suitable habitats for over 20 relict Caucasian species of animals and plants; Optimized PCR conditions for mitochondrial DNA fragments of over ten species of Caucasian fauna and flora.
Currently executed large-scale phylogeographic studies of:
1) Caucasian population of brown bear (Ursus arctos)
2) Land snails of group Helix buchi
3) rock lizards of genus Darevskia, group Darevskia rudis
Population genetic research of grey wolf (Canis lupus), brown bear (Ursus arctos), Caucasian black grouse (Tetrao mlokosiewiczi), rock lizard Darevskia portschinskii; Studying genetic interactions and population structure of the rock lizard Darevskia portschinskii and its daughter parthenogenetic clone, Darevskia “dahli”; modeling metapopulation dynamics of rock lizards and carabid beetles of the group Oreoplatysma. We plan to conduct phylogeographic studies of some other species and species groups, including endemic Caucasian Rhododendrons, snowcocks (Tetraogallus spp.), trout (Salmo fario), Carabid beetles Oreoplatysma, and Apollo butterflies (Parnassius spp.), currently trying to raise funds for these studies.
At the moment, three papers are published or accepted for publication by international scientific journals with impact-factor exceeding 0 executed in the Biodiversity Research Center; one additional paper is submitted, and four – in preparation, and will be submitted before the end of 2009.

Final Report