This Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) award supports a new multidisciplinary graduate training program of education and research in Ecosystem Restoration through Interdisciplinary Exchange (ERIE) at the University at Buffalo, in cooperation with partner institutions Buffalo State College and Niagara University. The program will provide doctoral students with interdisciplinary training to advance the theoretical foundations of ecosystem restoration and adapt concepts to the particulars of complex regional ecosystems, with an emphasis on the Great Lakes and surrounding watersheds. Research will emphasize integrative projects in ecosystem assessment, modeling, and management, referenced to real world applications. Special attention will be given to important environmental cultural issues of surrounding indigenous communities through course modules, research led by Native American scholars, and interactions with Native partners. ERIE will transform the theory and practice of ecosystem restoration by infusing the workforce with professionals trained to integrate and exchange science, engineering, policy and cultural considerations, and by demonstrating new approaches to interdisciplinary education. Training will emphasize both professional development and sense of place-based science education fueled by knowledge gained through the local restoration projects. Specific activities include field-oriented short courses taught by experienced researchers and national experts, leadership workshops on interdisciplinary team dynamics, professional internships with external partners, instruction and mentoring in case study methods, and the development and dissemination of new K-16 materials. Student recruitment will build on existing minority fellowship programs and previously successful recruitment of Native American doctoral students, in conjunction with new activities targeting students from local and regional Native American communities. IGERT is an NSF-wide program intended to meet the challenges of educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers with the interdisciplinary background, deep knowledge in a chosen discipline, and the technical, professional, and personal skills needed for the career demands of the future. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.
IGERT: Ecosystem Restoration through Interdisciplinary Exchange (ERIE)