Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wyoming EPSCoR welcomes new director

Dr. Brent Ewers with
Summer Research Apprenticeship
Program students Virgil Morrison (left)
and Sarah Fanning (right).
When asked what will be the biggest life change in accepting the position as EPSCoR Director, Dr. Brent Ewers responded: not teaching LIFE 1010. Ewers has been teaching the General Biology course since he came to the University of Wyoming 12 years ago.

“Normally I would’ve done my first lecture a few hours ago so it seems a little strange,” he says about not teaching during the fall semester. LIFE 1010 aside, Brent is thrilled to take on his new position at EPSCoR.

A father of two sons and husband to Samantha Ewers, who is the Research Database Manager for the Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics (WyCEHG), Brent is joining EPSCoR from the Botany Department. His main focus is Plant Physiological Ecology, a field that has played an integral part in EPSCoR over the past several years by way of WyCEHG and Summer Research Apprentice Program (SRAP). After being engaged in these programs as a scientist, he’s excited to work with them from the director’s chair.

“One thing I’ve really enjoyed as a scientist in WyCEHG is that I’ve had interactions with the EPSCoR staff,” says Ewers. “I’m very excited to learn a lot more from experts in education outreach and diversity.”

He is stepping into the role formerly held by Dr. Anne Sylvester, who took the EPSCoR Director position in 2011. It was under her leadership that the current Track-1 Grant came to be at Wyoming EPSCoR. Sylvester’s research focus is in maize development and genomics and, fittingly, she is moving on to a position as Program Director of the Plant Genome Research Program at the National Science Foundation.

Although she’s excited for her new opportunity, she’s proud of the progress EPSCoR has made and excited for the path it will follow in the future.

Dr. Anne Sylvester
“Working with EPSCoR has been an incredible experience,” she says. “NSF EPSCoR really focuses on collaborative, interdisciplinary research, hence the project that was developed is one that brings three different disciplines together to make something new…Watching that interdisciplinarity develop was kind of like a snowball rolling downhill. Once it starts, you see people changing, you see the science changing."

And she’s happy to pass the baton to Ewers. “The goal is to have EPSCoR impact the state of Wyoming. I think it’s been pretty successful so far. With Brent taking over, it’s just going to skyrocket.”

Brent is also excited about what the future holds for EPSCoR, particularly as he and his staff look toward the next grant a few years down the road. “There’s a really strong history of EPSCoR supporting programs that then have impacts for decades afterwards. I’m really looking forward to being a part of that and seeing what new programs can come out of it.”

By Manasseh Franklin

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