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 allotted to agriculture, industry, recreation, wildlife, and drinking uses have sparked legal and policy battles. In addition, pesticides, pollution, invasive species, and 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 (NRT) 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 is using its NSF program to train master’s and doctoral students in understanding resilience of agro-ecosystems, particularly the Platte River Basin in Nebraska. The NRT students come from multiple disciplines—the natural, computational, engineering, agricultural, and social sciencesto study panarchy theory, adaptive management, novel sensing technologies and modeling, 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.

Recent Events

Students have been attending the spring seminar series of the School of Natural Resources, the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, the School of Biological Sciences, and the Computer Science and Engineering Department. The seminars allow students to hear from and interact with experts in related professions.

Dirac Twidwell, Conor Barnes, Julie Fowler and Alison Ludwig presented "Advancing Fire Ecology of the Great Plains" at the 6th Annual Nebraska Prescribed Fire Conference on December 6, 2018, in Kearney.

Robin Craig, professor in the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, visited the NRT November 7 to 13 for discussions and collaborations.

Ahjond Garmestani, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, visited the NRT October 29 to November 4 to collaborate with professors and discuss current issues with students.

Daniel Rico, master's student in Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering, presented a poster, "Power-Tethered UAS Network for Indefinite Data Acquisition to Increase Agricultural Resilience in the Platte River Basin,” at the Water Resources of the U.S. Great Plains Region: Status and Future regional symposium of the National Institutes for Water Resources, held October 24-25, 2018, at the Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln.




February 27

Water Seminar Series, Kremer memorial lecture with James Butler, senior scientist with the Kansas Geological Survey, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Hardin Hall first floor auditorium 

March 13

Water Seminar Series lecture, "Managing Nitrates in the Bazile Groundwater Management Area," with Mike Sousek, General Manager, Lower Elkhorn NRD, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Hardin Hall first floor auditorium

March 17-24

Spring Break

March 21

Agricultural and Water Law Seminar, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the auditorium of the College of Law.  Presentations on agricultural law topics, including legal issues associated with water, the environment, land use, technology, taxation, and finance.

March 29

Last day to apply for admittance to the NRT for the Fall 2019 semester (August 1 start date)

April 3

Water Seminar Series lecture, "One District, Two Plans, One Water," with Rod DeBuhr, Assistant General Manager, Upper Big Blue NRD, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Hardin Hall first floor auditorium

April 15

Spring Research Fair, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Nebraska Union -- graduate poster session from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

April 17

Water Seminar Series, Williams memorial lecture with Jason Gurdak, Associate Professor, Department of Earth and Climate Sciences, San Francisco State University, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Hardin Hall first floor auditorium

May 12-16

NRT trip to Resilience Alliance meeting at UNICOI Adventure Lodge in Georgia

May 19 to June 8

The Netherlands Water Tour

Photo credit: Of the world’s population of 600,000 cranes, 85 percent come through Nebraska. The birds stage on the Platte River and use leftover corn to gain weight for their flight farther north. The NRT thanks Emma Brinley Buckley for granting us permission to use the landing-page photograph of cranes dancing on the Platte River as part of their mating ritual.

Collaborating agencies