FEW Graduate Scholars Program

We are looking for the graduate students, post-docs, and outstanding senior undergrads for Transdisciplinary Challenges for the Food-Energy-Water Nexus to cultivate an interdisciplinary peer network, develop teamwork skills and a CV-ready product as you explore solutions to a 'wicked' problem.

This is an opportunity for the graduate students, post-docs, and outstanding senior undergrads to gain experience in Transdisciplinary Challenges at the Food-Energy-Water Nexus. Participants’ are teamed up to tackle one of the three challenges:

What? A multi-disciplinary team of land-grant university faculty is designing graduate student experiences to help students successfully contribute to team-based approaches for addressing these complex challenges. They are creating “The INFEWS-ER” A Virtual Resource Center Enabling Graduate Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems. Two cohort challenges were completed in 2018-19 (Managing Carbon in Dairy Systems and Nutrient Loss Reduction, Recovery and Reuse) with 11 students participating.

The FEW Graduate Scholars Program is one of the first of several practicum experiences for engaging students to apply both their technical and soft skills for addressing a wicked challenge. The Virtual Resource Center will connect graduate students from diverse disciplines and locations through both virtual and face to face learning experiences. Previous participants have been located at universities in Washington, California, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, South Dakota, and São Paulo (Brazil). They have come from the disciplinary areas of soil science, economics, animal science, agricultural engineering, dairy science, and environmental engineering. We welcome applicants from those areas and encourage applicants from additional locations and disciplines to apply.

Who? Outstanding senior undergraduates, graduate students in either M.S. and Ph.D. programs and graduates in post-doc positions are encouraged to consider this learning opportunity.

When? The Cohort Challenge is expected to start between mid-October 2019 include a face-to-face experience in March 2020, and conclude by May 2020.

Where? Students will experience most of the Cohort Challenge virtually through online web meeting room technology, Google Drive, and Moodle. One three day face-to-face gathering is anticipated during March 2020.

How Much Time Will I Commit (student)?

We are designing this to be roughly equivalent to a three credit hour course for those on a semester system (4.5 credit hours for those on a trimester system). We encourage students to work with their advisor to build this into the student’s academic plans as a 3-credit hour special problems course. A full course syllabus and description are available for documentation requirements.

Both 2018-19 challenges included 15-16 scheduled (one hour) video conference sessions (occurring 1-2 weeks apart with a longer break over the winter holidays) with the cohort mentors and guest speakers. Both student cohorts eventually organized an additional weekly meeting on their own to work on their final product and dedicated some individual time toward researching and developing their contribution to the final product.

What are the outcomes?

Livestock and Local Community Outcomes

  • Students will develop a framework (template) for an odor management plan for a specific farm or set of farms, with a potential that it could be used as generic for other similar applications. Cohort could focus on one aspect of an operation (e.g., land application). Visibility (trees vs. manure injection). Economic analyses. State/local conditions/regulations. ISO 14000 standards to odor management, quality control. Draft a county ordinance.
  • Students will draft a county ordinance, the management plan for a planning commission addressing community odor.
  • Students will interview and/or participate in an existing or former ad-hoc committee involving members from all sides, find out about speakers involved (have there been sociologists, engineers, economists involved)? Students will review court depositions and trial testimonies that are accessible to the public.
  •  Students will develop a working knowledge of complex connections related to community odor.
  • Students will map and communicate their community odor model to a lay audience.
  • Students will individually create an educational product (short video, 1-page fact sheet) that delivers fundamental information appropriate for a lay audience on one topic or component of the AMPAT.

Managing Nitrogen in a Dairy System Outcomes

  • Students will develop a working knowledge of the complex connection of nitrogen cycling within a dairy system resulting in both production of human-edible products and transformation of nutrients from non-edible nitrogen sources, nitrogen use in soil, as well as nitrogen losses potentially associated with odors, greenhouse gases and organic compounds emitted to water resources.
  • Students will collaboratively map and communicate their dairy nitrogen model to a lay audience delivered through the Virtual Dairy Farm website developed by scientists involved in the Dairy Coordinated Agricultural Project (http://virtualfarm.psu.edu)
  • Students will individually create an educational product (short video, 1-page fact sheet or other product) that delivers fundamental information appropriate for a lay audience on one topic or component of the Dairy Nitrogen Model.

Disaster Relief and Resiliency Outcomes

  • Students will learn, gain and demonstrate their understanding of globally relevant issues where problem-solving can contribute towards tangible, context-sensitive, and resilient solutions.
  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of the political, cultural, social issues preceding recent events in Puerto Rico, and how they may affect potential solutions.
  • Students will document their observations of the current state of Puerto Rico, its citizens, and its infrastructure, identifying current challenges for recovery.
  • Students will assess and prioritize the viability of potential social and technological solutions responding to current challenges in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
  • Students will draft action plans for communities and students groups seeking to provide service towards collaborating communities while in the country.
  • Students will produce a product demonstrating their contribution towards resilient short and long term solutions in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Interdisciplinary Outcomes

  • Students will implement concepts specific to Systems Thinking;
  • Students will communicate effectively across disciplines;
  • Students will apply principles of “High Performing Teams”;
  • Students will recognize the importance of engaging stakeholders and consider their perspectives in the proposed community odor model.

If you are interested, you can fill the application form below.

FEW Graduate Scholars Program Aplication Form