FORT COLLINS, COLO. — Jorge A. Ramirez, a Colorado State University professor of civil and environmental engineering, will lead a new $2.75 million research and education program to train the next generation of water scientists. The new program is funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) flagship interdisciplinary research training program, IGERT.

“Water management decisions generate conflicts between humans, ecosystem needs, and political jurisdictions,” Ramirez said. “Therefore, there is a critical need for scientists who can address three important questions: 1) how can limited fresh water be distributed equitably in a socially acceptable and sustainable framework; 2) what are the relative ecological and societal benefits and drawbacks of management actions; and 3) how can science provide answers for wise water management decisions?”

Known as WATER (Water, Atmosphere, Ecosystem Education, and Research), the program will train doctoral students to conduct interdisciplinary research at the interfaces between hydrologic, atmospheric, ecologic, and management disciplines. Students will probe questions of variability and uncertainty, vulnerability of human use, and ecosystems and sustainability. The program involves 11 science and engineering departments at Colorado State University and includes opportunities for trainees to participate in internships at federal and state agencies.

The five-year grant will train as many as 30 doctoral students in civil and environmental engineering, atmospheric science, and ecology on all aspects of WATER science and engineering, Ramirez said.

Other key researchers participating in the grant are Neil Grigg, also a professor of civil and environmental engineering; Scott Denning, professor of atmospheric science; and LeRoy Poff, professor of biology.

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