Home

Creating ‘Water Scholars’ through the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT)

F13 cohortcompThe Water SENSE IGERT is intended to produce scholars who will be able to work in leadership positions in government, private, and nonprofit organizations interested in improving community health and child development outcomes via improved water supply, utilization, and management. The training Water SENSE IGERT Fellows will receive will prepare them in all aspects of water and waterborne disease management, including designing, executing and evaluating water-based interventions in close consultation – and with the active participation – of the intended beneficiaries. We will be teaching and using new and established approaches to water utilization and management, waterborne pathogen control and vector biology, and simultaneously training students in the social and cultural challenges required for the sustainable use of clean water.

Water will become an even more important factor in determining human well-being in the future, as the world’s population increases from roughly 6.5 billion now to 9 billion by 2050. Also as the developing world’s population urbanizes, the demand for water transport and processing worldwide will increase significantly. Meanwhile, the supply of water is unlikely to increase and may decline as a result of major shifts in the world’s climate. Since water scarcity has a direct link to water contamination, the future outlook for water-related morbidity and mortality is bleak, especially in the absence of major public interventions. Water scarcity also portends worldwide political instability as more people and nations compete for this vital resource.

Intellectual Merit

The vision of UCR’s Water SENSE IGERT is to impart three sets of skills toward creating water scholars who are able to address this complex and pressing problem.

  1. substantive disciplinary knowledge that allows them to understand and engage in technical problems at the knowledge frontier;
  2. boundary-spanning knowledge that allows them to direct project teams composed of diverse practitioners;
  3. communication knowledge that allows them to motivate students (at all levels), advise policy makers, and influence public awareness.

This vision will be realized by integrating expertise on water drawn from a variety of disciplines, including microbiology, entomology, environmental engineering, economics, public policy, psychology, sociology, political science, education, and anthropology, to develop practical, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions to improve the quantity and quality of water available and people’s use of this water. This expertise will be utilized by having cohorts of IGERT students focus on the water issues in a particular geographic region of California.

The Water SENSE IGERT Fellows will engage in applied research that can improve water quantity and quality, thereby reducing exposure to waterborne diseases, increasing the supply of potable water, and improving human well-being. This will be accomplished through the development of multidisciplinary teams who will integrate their disciplinary knowledge towards the solution of the complex and severe water problems.

Five major research themes have been identified:

  1. Public education;
  2. Water policy/management;
  3. Waterborne contaminant detection/effects;
  4. Vector/disease control;
  5. Water treatment and remediation.

Broader Impacts

The Water SENSE IGERT is intended to produce scholars who will be able to work in leadership positions in government, private, and nonprofit organizations interested in improving community health and child development outcomes via improved water supply, utilization, and management. The training Water SENSE IGERT Fellows will receive will prepare them in all aspects of water and waterborne disease management, including designing, executing and evaluating water-based interventions in close consultation – and with the active participation – of the intended beneficiaries. We will be teaching and using new and established approaches to water utilization and management, waterborne pathogen control and vector biology, and simultaneously training students in the social and cultural challenges required for the sustainable use of clean water.

Our specific goals for the Water SENSE IGERT program include:

  1. Increasing recruitment and retention of students in NSF-supported disciplines by at least 10 per year and connecting with undergraduate programs to encourage more students and greater diversity in the sciences.;
  2. Increasing the ethnic diversity of students in the sciences and engineering through joint recruitment and retention efforts with the social sciences, which traditionally attract more women and underrepresented minorities;
  3. Diversifying job opportunities for Ph.D.-level graduates in U.S. academic institutions, Government laboratories, and the private sector by establishing links for summer research opportunities and collaborative research;
  4. Diversifying the engineering and science faculty at UCR. The attractiveness of the IGERT and the support it offers will help us recruit sought-after faculty at all levels as UCR continues to grow.