This Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) award will train a corps of doctoral students to become the leaders needed to develop innovative adaptive strategies to respond to unprecedented challenges as a result of climate change. Intellectual Merit: Changes in the hydrologic cycle are expected to decrease the supply of safe water, forcing vulnerable populations in poor countries to drink dirty water, leading to increased disease. Food production will become scarcer as unsustainable groundwater withdrawals are affected by increased drought. As contaminants continue to flow into water bodies and hydrodynamic patterns adjust to climate change, the coastal fisheries upon which human populations depend for food will face increased problems of eutrophication and anoxia. Integrated strategies are needed for predicting and adapting to climate driven stressors on water resources and human health. Among these strategies are smart growth land use practices resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions or water infrastructure systems that conserve water and energy.
Broader Impacts: The trainees will be scientific leaders and will engage in mentoring diverse high school students. Practical problems will be addressed by students through a capstone course centering on real problems in three very different areas of the world: the Chesapeake Bay watershed in the temperate developed U.S., the tropical underdeveloped Amazon basin in Peru, and the arid underdeveloped Nile basin in Ethiopia. IGERT students, highly trained in advanced water treatment and management, will learn to adapt skills and knowledge to address problems in diverse cultural, political and economic settings.
IGERT is an NSF-wide program intended to meet the challenges of educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers with the interdisciplinary background, deep knowledge in a chosen discipline, and the technical, professional, and personal skills needed for the career demands of the future. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.