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NSF EPSCoR in Idaho 2012 Highlight of Accomplishments

Idaho NSF EPSCoR is building capacity for statewide academic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research and education. Idaho has three NSF Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) grants that will be completed in 2013. One is a $15M, 5-yr award improving the understanding of the effects of climate on water resources and the impact on Idaho agriculture, landscapes, water supplies, and industry, while broadening participation in STEM and integrating research and education. Two other grants ($2M and $1.1M) are improving internet and computing capacity and partnerships with colleges and universities across Idaho and the region. Summary of RII Accomplishments: 

Supported more than 400 university faculty, staff, undergraduates, graduate students, and technicians and nearly 14,000 K-12 students, teachers, and other stakeholders in STEM research and education.

Greatly enhanced the capacity to manage and understand surface and groundwater in the Snake River Basin and ecological changes in the Salmon River Basin.

Created and filled 10 new academic faculty positions with expertise in a range of disciplines to enhance Idaho’s ability to conduct team science and to respond to local and national research needs.

Provided leadership and financial support for a coordinated statewide effort to enhance STEM education and lead the State’s STEM Roadmap strategy for increasing diversity in STEM.

Enabled researchers to share multidisciplinary data and models and integrate their products into national systems through the Northwest Knowledge Network and the Idaho LiDAR Consortium.

Improved internet connectivity to and at the Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station, the UI Kimberly Research and Extension Center, three 2-year and 4-year colleges, and two universities via the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON) for increased collaboration and distance learning.

Contact Idaho EPSCoR: University Research – EPSCoR University of Idaho

875 Perimeter Drive MS 3029 Moscow ID 83844-3026

Rick Schumaker Assistant Project Director rschumak@uidaho.edu 208-885-5742

Doyle Jacklin Chairman, State Committee doylej@riverbendcp.com 208-773-6745 March, 2013

Idaho STEM Pipeline Promotes Equitable Access to K-20 STEM Opportunities The Idaho State Board of Education is working in conjunction with Idaho EPSCoR and other stakeholders to develop a strong K-20 plan for the future of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. Idaho’s STEM Roadmap will guide development of an education system that prepares our students to compete globally in an “innovation economy.” Idaho EPSCoR’s specific role is to provide leadership in Idaho’s effort to promote equitable access to and increase participation of underrepresented students in K-20 STEM opportunities. The Roadmap will foster more effective student recruitment and Idaho STEM Pipeline links 100+ STEM learning retention. This work opportunities for Idaho students will increase the www.idahostem.org diversity and success of underrepresented and first-generation college students and workers entering STEM fields. In addition, Idaho EPSCoR manages the Idaho STEM Pipeline, an online searchable directory of STEM learning opportunities in Idaho. A new advisory board for the Idaho STEM Pipeline will provide even greater statewide coordination and promote additional opportunities. Idaho EPSCoR is promoting “ONEIdaho” as a concept to bring together key STEM leaders to discuss ways to include more underrepresented students in STEM education and develop collaborations to best prepare Idaho’s future workforce.

EPSCoR Experience Opens Doors to Regional and Federal Science Leadership Richard Allen, University of Idaho Professor, is leading a team of Idaho EPSCoR-supported scientists in research on evapotranspiration that provided an impetus for thermal infrared sensor (TIRS) funding on the Landsat 8 satellite. Landsat 8 was launched in February 2013. Dr. Allen also has been named to the National Science Team supporting the new Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) Satellite. Dr. Allen was instrumental to ensuring TIRS would be included in the satellite to measure the Earth’s temperature. According to Dr. Allen, “nearly 80 percent of the fresh water in the Western U.S. [is] being used to irrigate crops.” State water resource managers rely on the highly accurate measurements of Earth’s thermal energy obtained by NASA satellites to track how land and water are being used. TIRS will become an invaluable tool for managing water consumption.

Benjamin Crosby, Idaho State University Professor, recently served for the USGS as the chair of the Hydrology section of the Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative. Crosby’s experience developing a hydrological monitoring network in the Salmon River and collaborations with an EPSCoR interdisciplinary team provided the expertise necessary to develop a monitoring strategy that will serve diverse scientific interests in northern Alaska. Dr. Crosby was tasked to develop an interdisciplinary Hydro-Ecological monitoring network for Northern Alaska. The science plan associated with this network will guide interagency science objectives for the next 10 years. Crosby is working with others to further grow this monitoring network through a proposal to the Artic Observing Network program at the Office of Polar Programs at NSF.

Jeffrey Hicke, University of Idaho Associate Professor, recently served as a visiting scientist at the USDA Forest Service Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC) in Prineville, Oregon. Dr. Hicke was recruited to Idaho as part of a previous NSF EPSCoR RII grant to add expertise in ecosystem change to Idaho’s universities. WWETAC’s mission is “to generate and integrate knowledge and information to provide credible prediction, early detection, and quantitative assessment of environmental threats in the western United States.” Dr. Hicke conducted reviews of the effects of bark beetle-caused tree mortality on subsequent fuels and fire behavior as well as on carbon cycling. He also worked on EPSCoR-related projects to connect climate change to bark beetle outbreaks and to develop satellite-based methods to detect wildland threats. Bark beetle outbreaks have killed trees across 27 million acres in western North America, but their effect on carbon cycling in forested areas has been difficult to measure. Bark beetles, which kill evergreens, can reduce forest carbon storage capacity by nearly half, resulting in greater CO2, concentrations in the atmosphere. Determining bark beetle impacts is challenging given the large variability in how trees are killed across a landscape. Dr. Hicke and EPSCoR-supported Graduate Student Benjamin Bright have developed new methods using remotely sensed imagery to quantify impacts to carbon cycling. The results, determined in collaboration with the USDA Rocky Mountain Research Station, contribute to the North American Carbon Program goals, and can also provide information to assess other economic impacts of forest loss.

Developing Research Expertise by Investing in People Idaho EPSCoR has helped to expand the research expertise within Idaho’s university system by adding 10 new faculty members at the University of Idaho, Boise State University, and Idaho State University. The addition of these faculty members in new research areas has significantly increased the number of early career researchers working on natural resources research in Idaho. These new professors are contributing to a more integrated Idaho EPSCoR Science Team. The research requires a true interdisciplinary approach to understanding changes in the physical environment and the resulting impacts on ecological and economic systems. These new faculty are also promoting public awareness as experts on Idaho Public Television, Idaho State University State of Mind broadcasts, and appearances as a “weather expert” on KLEW CBS-Lewiston, to name a few. Dr. Kelly Cobourn, Boise State University is one example of Idaho’s outstanding new early-career researchers. Dr. Cobourn was recently selected as one of only ten recipients nationwide of NASA’s 2011 Land Cover Land-Use Change (LCLUC) Awards for early career scientists. Dr. Kelly Wendland, University of Idaho was also selected to receive one of these awards. Dr. Cobourn, who holds a doctorate in Economics from the University of California, Davis, conducts research using remote sensing data collected by NASA to examine how agricultural producers in the Snake River Basin adapt to changing climatic and weather conditions, which are expected to alter the availability of water for irrigation. Because producers in the Snake River Basin are heavily dependent on irrigation, climate change is expected to have a significant impact on agricultural productivity, the value of agricultural land, producers’ land-use decisions, and economic welfare throughout the region. This research contributes toward the goals of the U.S. Global Climate Research Program (USGCRP) by providing critical scientific information about climate interactions and the consequences of land-cover and land-use change on environmental goods and services, the carbon and water cycles, and the management of natural resources.

Expanded Internet Access Benefits Idaho The Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station increased internet capacity 100-fold thanks to NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement funding. This allows data from state of the art population genetics studies to be shared readily among distributed University research labs, the Columbia River InterTribal Fish Commission, and other collaborators. The required wireless towers also resulted in better internet access than was previously available to numerous rural Magic Valley businesses and families in Southern Idaho. The new system transmits the signal from Hagerman to Boise where it links into the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON). Kimberly Research and Extension Center (KREC) scientists in Kimberly, Idaho also now have increased capacity, computing performance, and security for research data management. Better access to data from sensors and satellites such as Landsat is enabling scientists like Richard Allen to make new discoveries related to water resource use and management. Research data at this offcampus location are now automatically backed up, and computer hardware is co-managed remotely through the UI’s Northwest Knowledge Network (NKN) in Moscow, Idaho. Working together, North Idaho College (NIC) and the University of Idaho used NSF EPSCoR funding to bridge broadband access gaps at and among twoyear and four-year institutions. EPSCoR also facilitated NIC’s membership in IRON, creating a new “point of presence” (POP) in north Idaho at the NIC data center. Networking staff at NIC, UI, and LCSC collaborate with each other and a consortium of research institutions to share expertise, location advantages, equipment capabilities, and other formerly independent resources. Students have access to high speed wireless networking, and faculty benefit from better video and computer connections for research and education.

To subscribe to the Idaho EPSCoR Newsletter please send an email to althea@uidaho.edu with your name, email and mailing address and indicate if you prefer an electronic, hard-copy, or both newsletter.

Supported by Idaho EPSCoR and the National Science Foundation under the RII Track 1 Award Number EPS-0814387, RII Track 2 Award Number EPS-0919514, and RII C2 Award Number EPS-1006958

Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


NSF EPSCoR in Idaho 2012 Highlight of Accomplishments