Monday, June 11, 2012

Student Research Apprenticeship Program Begins

The University of Wyoming campus feels a little empty without the usual crowds of students walking to and from class. Everything is quiet and calm, but for Wyoming EPSCoR, the summer fun is just getting started . This week marks the beginning of the Student Research Apprenticeship Program (SRAP), which will take place on the University of Wyoming campus from June 10-July 21. For the next six weeks, sixteen high school students will live and research on campus, gaining valuable experience in research labs, and for many, learning what it is like to live away from home for the first time.

One of Wyoming EPSCoR's primary goals is to foster collaborative communication among diverse participants in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. SRAP is one way that Wyoming EPSCoR works to include diverse participants in the STEM fields, because it is first and foremost a research program for minority high school students.

The goal of the program is to bring minority groups, women and first-generation students bound for college into STEM research where they have traditionally been exempt.  Junior and senior high school students ranking in the top third of their class are eligible for the program and are primarily selected from the Rocky Mountain region. SRAP participants are matched with professors according to their interests and are paid for the research they conduct over the following weeks. At the end of the program, the students formally present their research. These presentations not only prepare students for college and professional life, but also introduce them to the collaborative communication process that Wyoming EPSCoR aims to foster in our programs. SRAP participants meet professors they may want to work with in the future, learn about the possibilities for them in the STEM fields and make friend with other high-achieving students.

SRAP is one of three student research and fellows programs sponsored by Wyoming EPSCoR.

~by Kali S. McCrackin

Monday, June 4, 2012

Water Resources and Cyberinfrustructure

How are water resource quality and availability impacted by climate variability, watershed alterations and management activities? This is the question that Wyoming and Utah will address in their new EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) Track II Grant, CI-Water: Cyberinfrustructure to Advance High Performance Water Resource Modeling.

EPSCoR is a federal grant program which aims to help the National Science Foundation (NSF) in promoting scientific research and education throughout the United States. The goal of EPSCoR is to make historically uncompetitive states stronger through improvements to infrastructure. EPSCoR offers two different grants. Track I grants provide up to $4 million for five years for projects designed to support physical, human and cyber infrastructure. Track II grants provide up to $2 million for three years for projects shared between multiple EPSCoR states and centered on cyber infrastructure.  These grants not only make jurisdictions more competitive, but they also establish innovative projects and research designed to benefit entire communities.

The CI-Water project  is a Track II grant shared between EPSCoR programs in Wyoming and Utah. It is a collaboration between researchers at the University of Wyoming, University of Utah, Utah State University and Brigham Young University.  In order to answer the above question, the universities have four primary goals.

1. Enhance cyberinfrustructure facilities~ This includes updating and designing computer systems to support the research to be conducted, enhance watershed modeling and facilitate collaboration between the four universities.
2. Enhance access to data and modeling~ This includes developing easy to use models and data that link past research to current research.
3. Advance high resolution watershed modeling~ This includes revolutionizing watershed modeling through integrating new processes with those already existing.
4. Promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning~ This includes activities not only for EPSCoR groups, but also for elementary school students and teachers; university students, faculty and programs; and adults learners.

Through collaboration, interaction and communication, the CI-Water project will help Wyoming and Utah researchers and communities understand our water resources now and in the future.

~by Kali S. McCrackin