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NRT-INFEWS: UMD Global STEWARDS (STEM Training at the Nexus of Energy, WAter Reuse and FooD Systems)


Our global food, energy and water resources are being stressed by diverse factors such as population growth, climate variability and human/environmental interfaces. Solutions to these challenging problems require scientists, engineers and policy experts working together to ensure food, energy and water security for future generations. However, cross-cutting, transformative science and policy discoveries can only come about through interdisciplinary training that prepares our future scientific leaders for success across a number of career pathways. To address this need, this National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) award to the University of Maryland College Park (UMD) will establish an interdisciplinary, STEM graduate education program that trains students to effectively work and communicate across disciplines to address food/energy/water issues from molecular to societal levels and from local to global scales. The UMD Global STEWARDS NRT program will prepare students through hands-on domestic and international experiences, as well as research, training and outreach opportunities that integrate the biological, physical, social, behavioral and computer sciences. This project anticipates training sixty (60) PhD students, including thirty (30) funded trainees, from programs in the life sciences, earth system sciences, engineering, computational sciences, social behavioral sciences, natural resource management studies, and energy and environmental policy. <br/><br/>UMD Global STEWARDS trainees will focus on a range of topics in three integrated food/energy/water research areas: (1) agricultural resilience through energy-efficient water reuse; (2) food safety and security in variable climate scenarios; and (3) decision support systems to advance food-energy-water adaptation strategies. Trainees will participate in five interdisciplinary training elements: (1) introductory and advanced experiential coursework addressing the food/energy/water nexus; (2) intensive, annual, two-week "Winter Boost" workshops; (3) a domestic internship based in a non-academic setting; (4) a "Global Summer Amp" broadening experience in Israel or Nepal; and (5) involvement in food/energy/water-related outreach and mentoring. Communication and professional development activities will be woven throughout the NRT training elements. Trainees will take ownership in the program and develop leadership skills by participating in student-led committees and annual symposia. UMD Global STEWARDS graduates will emerge from the program as well-balanced life-long learners, stellar science communicators and distinctive professionals armed with the communication and professional skills needed to translate research discoveries into actionable science at the food/energy/water nexus.<br/><br/>The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new potentially transformative models for STEM graduate education training. The program is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary research areas through comprehensive traineeship models that are innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs.<br/><br/>This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Amy Sapkota; Meng, Jianghong
University of Maryland - College Park
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