Much of the world—including the United States—faces increasing conflict as Earth’s human population continues to grow but the supply of good, clean water decreases. Water shortages and the struggle to determine how much should be used for agriculture, industry, recreation, wildlife and drinking have sparked legal and policy battles. In addition, pesticides, pollution, invasive species, climate change and droughts threaten the availability of good, clean water. Resolving these complex issues requires the best scientific information and training of natural resource scientists, managers, engineers and policymakers.
The National Science Foundation established a National Research Traineeship program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to meet this need. As stated by the National Science Foundation, NRT programs are "dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary research areas, through the use of a comprehensive traineeship model that is innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs."
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln NRT program trains master’s and doctoral students in understanding resilience of agricultural ecosystems, particularly the Platte River Basin in Nebraska. The NRT students come from multiple disciplines—the natural, computational, engineering, agricultural and social sciences—to study panarchy theory, novel sensing technologies and modeling, adaptive management and policy interventions. They strive to develop tools that can collect, synthesize and analyze data to inform decisions and policies for managing water resources. They hope to keep the Platte River Basin and other agro-ecosystems healthy and resilient for all who depend upon them now and for generations to come.
Students taking the "Foundations of Ecological Resilience" class performed speed talks about their resilience research at the Resilience Alliance Science Meeting on October 20. Eleven students from Nebraska presented (10 NRT-funded students and graduate student Penny Greer), along with graduate students from Michigan State University. The 10 NRT students presenting came from the third and fourth cohorts of the program: Kate Bird, Catherine Chan, Alexis Chavez, Dominic Cristiano, Sydney James, Breanne Lewis-Jones, Annie Madsen, Daniel Morales, Rubi Quiñones, and Sarah Thompson.
NRT professors Craig Allen, Francisco Muñoz-Arriola and Leen-Kiat Soh and the program coordinator, Ronica Stromberg, attended the Alcorn State University Virtual Graduate and Professional Career Fair on October 1 and enjoyed the chance to speak with prospective graduate students in the many STEM disciplines from which the Nebraska NRT conducts research on ecological resilience.
Nick Brozović, Director of Policy at the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute and professor of agricultural economics, visited the NRT virtually on September 30 to give students an insider glimpse of the important work the institute and the Nebraska Water Center are doing in Nebraska and internationally.
The NRT kicked off the new school year with a meet-and-greet by Zoom to welcome our five new students and new NRT professor Lisa Pytlik-Zillig on August 11.
NRT professor Francisco Muñoz-Arriola and Thiago Romanelli, professor at Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, taught the minicourse "Decision-Making and Attribution Science of Socio(agro)ecological Systems” to NRT and Brazilian graduate students on August 3-7.
The NRT admitted Catherine Chan and Breanne Lewis-Jones as doctoral students and Kate Bird, Alexis Chavez and Sarah Thompson as master's students for fall 2020. These outstanding new students started their NRT traineeships August 1. Congratulations to all!
The eight NRT students in the Council for Resilience Education won an Educational Aids Blue Ribbon from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers for their educational materials about ecological resilience. NRT students Conor Barnes, Dominic Cristiano, Julie Fowler, Katharine Hogan, Jessica Johnson, Alison Ludwig, Daniel Morales, and Rubi Quiñones received the award virtually at the ASABE international meeting July 12. The Educational Aids Blue Ribbon Awards Competition promotes excellence in informational materials contributing to the understanding of agricultural and biological engineering subjects outside of the traditional classroom setting.
Note: In response to the coronavirus, the university is taking numerous precautions to protect its staff and students. These include canceling large, public events and offering a mix of online and smaller, in-person classes. We are still carrying on the great work of Nebraska—but now at a distance. Go, Big Red!
Ellis Adjei Adams, assistant professor of geography and environmental policy in the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, speaks to the NRT
Dirac Twidwell, NRT assistant professor, speaks on "Putting Monitoring into Practice: Strategies for Large-Scale Conservation" at the Center for Grassland Studies
Igor Linkov, COVID Senior Data Analyst at DHS/FEMA and Risk and Decision Science Focus Area Lead for the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, speaks to the NRT
"Fifteenth Week" preparation for finals
Finals take place. Fall semester ends.
November 30-December 18
Optional remote mini-session
Conor Barnes, NRT doctoral student, speaks on "Legislation in Invasive Species Management" at the Center for Grassland Studies
Robin Craig, a leading environmental law scholar, speaks to the NRT about law and policy, especially as it relates to water
Optional spring three-week session
January 25-May 7
Regular spring academic session