In 2017, the National Science Foundation awarded the University of Nebraska-Lincoln a five-year, $3-million grant to establish a National Research Traineeship (NRT) program. Nebraska was one of 17 universities to receive an NRT grant that year, and the Nebraska program differed from others as the first to focus on the resilience of agro-ecosystems while incorporating panarchy theory, adaptive management, and applications across scales. The program takes the Platte River Basin as its main study subject.
The director of the program, Craig Allen, is a professor in the School of Natural Resources and former principal investigator of a National Science Foundation IGERT grant focused on the topic “Resilience and Adaptive Governance of Stressed Watersheds.” Allen built on knowledge gained from the IGERT grant in forming an interdisciplinary team that could address the many aspects of complex systems. Co-PIs are Sebastian Elbaum, Bessey professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering; Francisco Munoz-Arriola, assistant professor of Hydroinformatics and Integrated Hydrology in the Biological Systems Engineering Department; Nancy Shank, Associate Director of the Public Policy Center; and Dirac Twidwell, assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture.
The program started training five graduate students in the spring semester of 2018, and the total number of students expected to receive training through the grant tenure is 23. In 2018, the program added another five graduate students and also began training government and industry professionals in co-learning environments with the students. The number of professionals expected to receive training through the program is 10 to 15.