Page 1




SNOW CAMP IDAHO NSF EPSCOR WELCOMES AMBASSADORS FROM PRIMARILY UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTIONS Snow Camp Participants, Dry Creek Experimental Watershed, Idaho L to R, Nicholas Wood, Elizabeth Tysor, Clarissa Enslin, Seth Haynes Photo by Sarah Godsey • the RESEARCHER - PAGE 1 •

A newsletter publication of the Idaho EPSCoR Office

the RESEARCHER Idaho EPSCoR (208) 885-7102 Peter Goodwin, Project Director Rick Schumaker, Assistant Project Director Newsletter Editors Althea Sheets, Mandi Coulter,

New Look for Idaho EPSCoR Website Recently Launched Track 1 MILES Website Idaho STEM Pipeline Adds Twitter @IDSTEMPipeline

Message from the Director This May we had opportunities to present success stories about the impact of Idaho NSF EPSCoR on the national research agenda to briefings on Capitol Hill and to NSF leadership at the annual spring NSF EPSCoR Project Directors/ Administrators meeting in Arlington, Peter Goodwin, Virginia. Idaho EPSCoR has made critical Idaho EPSCoR Project Director investments in people, ideas, and research tools that enabled fundamental research and also helped Idaho industries expand and compete in the global marketplace. We have a rich legacy of EPSCoR initiated or supported success stories; just one example follows. Idaho has a resource-based economy, and science to support our economy is central to the State’s Science and Technology Plan. For example, Idaho’s aquaculture industry produces 75% of the farmed trout consumed in the US - about 41 million pounds per year. To put this in context, this is well over 500 times the weight of the entire rosters of the Bronco, Bengal, and Vandal football teams combined. When the Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station was first started in 1996 with one professor and one technician, Idaho EPSCoR funding was a key part of the startup effort. The station now employs 35-40 people, hosts visiting scholars from all over the world, and enjoys a high-profile international reputation in academic as well as industry circles. Periodic EPSCoR support over the years has enabled fundamental research, and most recently upgraded Internet connectivity, to enhance national and global collaboration. Dr. Ron Hardy, the current Director has forged close partnerships with researchers and students from the Columbia Basin Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and tribes that have proven to be a critical partner in this research. Nutrients in aquaculture effluent waters have come under regulatory scrutiny because of their role in stimulating unwanted algal and aquatic plant growth. As a result, Idaho and other states developed regulations that restrict the amount of phosphorus, nitrogen, and fecal solids that are allowed in the discharge from fish culture facilities. These regulations threatened to curtail production by the trout industry. Research showed that feeds are the primary source of phosphorus in fish production systems and focused scientific efforts on reducing total phosphorus levels in feeds, determining dietary phosphorus requirements of trout at various life stages, and ensuring that levels of available phosphorus in feeds were sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of the fish. A Rainbow trout selective breeding program has been underway since 2000 and has just spawned its 7th generation. Selection is based on performance of trout fed on plant-protein feeds. Fish now reach harvest size in half the time and perform better on the plant-based diet than a traditional fishmeal diet. This material is based in part upon work supported by: The National Science Foundation under grant number IIA-1301792. Any opinions, findings, 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.



Fishmeal is a limited and expensive global commodity, so this work has increased the profitability of the trout industry as well as increased its long-term sustainability. Maintaining the higher production levels was worth at least $6 million/year in Idaho alone. The research also permitted efficient low environmental-impact trout production by reducing phosphorus levels in feed by nearly 40% without affecting growth of fish or product quality – well beyond the 20% required by regulation. The benefits were recently elaborated further by Leo Ray – one of our longserving and heavily engaged members of the Idaho EPSCoR Committee and a pioneer in aquaculture. He highlighted that this fundamental research provides new opportunities for US-made protein concentrates from grains and soybeans and reduces expensive shipping costs-a step toward truly sustainable aquaculture. Farmed fish are often presented as sustainable, but how can transporting fishmeal, sometimes thousands of miles and dropping it into fish pens (with the

resulting carbon footprint) be regarded as sustainable? Dr. Hardy is offering an exciting new concept where the food for the fish can be grown locally, with greater production and less impact on the environment. In future issues of this newsletter, we will explore other Idaho research that is having an impact at the national and global level.


Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station Clockwise from Left: Dr. Ron Hardy, Professor, University of Idaho (UI) and Director of UI Aquaculture Research Institute; the Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station; and scientists preparing samples for laboratory analysis.

High Returns on NSF Awards

Idaho Scientists Establish National Observatory

“ This is a big accomplishment not only for ISU, BSU, and the ARS but for the entire state of Idaho ” -- Kathleen Lohse

Reynolds Creek Watershed Photo by Lejo Flores

Idaho scientists are establishing a Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory (RC CZO) to improve prediction of soil carbon storage and the processes governing its fate. This work is made possible by a National Science Foundation Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) award, $2.5 million over five years. The critical zone is the thin veneer of Earth that extends from the top of the vegetation to the base of weathered bedrock. It is where fresh water flows, soils are formed, and terrestrial life flourishes. This zone provides many of ecosystem services (benefits to society). “One of the large uncertainties in global climate models is how the large store of carbon in the soil may influence the atmosphere and associated climate,” says Kathleen Lohse. “A small change in that large pool of carbon could have large effects on atmospheric concentrations.” This interdisciplinary team of scientists, led by Kathleen Lohse, Idaho State University, includes co-PI’s Nancy Glenn, Alejandro Flores, Shawn Benner, Boise State University and Mary Seyfried, USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS), This interdisciplinary team of scientists will focus their initial efforts on extensive characterization of above and below-ground plant biomass and soil carbon amounts and characteristics across the watershed. The CZO is focused on the Reynolds Creek Watershed, located in SW Idaho immediately adjacent to Idaho’s NSF EPSCoR MILES Treasure Valley study area. The research infrastructure and collaboration provided by Idaho’s previous Research Infrastructure Improvement award, Water Resources in a Changing Climate, were directly related to the team’s ability to compete for this major CZO award. The team will also leverage its work in the NSF EPSCoR MILES award with this CZO by coordinating data management and resulting research. This CZO will produce one of the largest coupled soil carbon-environmental variable datasets available. It will become a national resource for carbon cycling research and education, and a magnet for global soil modeling research to address the grand challenge of understanding soil carbon behavior. This observatory will also improve understanding of how land management activities like prescribed fire and grazing alter soil properties, carbon inputs and the fate of soil organic carbon at the landscape level.


”Lejo’s research is not only important regarding land management practices and climate change models, but its teacher-education component will expand K-12 science education for underserved populations in Idaho “ -- Mark Rudin, vice president for research and economic development, BSU

Lejo Flores Wins Prestigious NSF CAREER Award Alejandro (Lejo) Flores, Boise State University, Geosciences Assistant Professor recently received a National Science Foundation CAREER award, $457,205 over five years, to study how land management decisions affect the ecological and hydrological health of public lands in a changing climate. As described by the National Science Foundation, “The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research…” The award will allow Flores to study how activities such as forest thinning, prescribed fire, and changes in vegetation impact regional precipitation and water supply. Flores will accomplish this by linking simulation tools that incorporate human activities and decision-making with physical processes to create scenarios for the future.

Alejandro (Lejo) Flores, Ponderosa State Park overlooking Payette Lake, Idaho Photo by Emily Flores

Flores also will develop a program to help K-12 teachers educate students about climate. In this program teachers and students will create low-cost weather stations for less than $100. Flores’ program will defray travel costs for training for teachers who serve students in rural areas, refugee populations, and Title 1 schools. This project will influence conservation of public lands, which compromise approximately 50% of western states. Flores received research startup funding and participated in collaborative research under Idaho’s previous NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement award, Water Resources in a Changing Climate. He will now leverage his research in the NSF MILES award with his NSF CAREER award by focusing on application of modeling of the social and ecological systems of the upper Boise River Basin.


Cindy Adams, Willow Creek Reservoir

Climate change and human population dynamics now alter water resource systems throughout the world. Their combined effects are unlike any the human race has experienced in recent history. These two complex stressors are so interrelated, and their effects so wide-ranging, that scientists cannot address them in disciplinary isolation. The IGERT project will support 24 doctoral students who will work in interdisciplinary teams. Faculty participants include members from seven colleges and 12 departments/ programs at the University of Idaho, and four institutions in Chile and Canada. The goal of the project is to study impacts of climate change and population dynamics on physical, ecological, and socioeconomic systems, and integrate these to formulate proactive adaptation scenarios for the Columbia River Basin. Trainees will work in the headwater basins of the Columbia River Basin of the Pacific Northwest US and Canada, and will participate in an immersion course in the Biobio River Basin in Chile. Boll’s role as a leader in Idaho’s NSF EPSCoR MILES award complements this IGERT because the geographic footprint of the IGERT program overlaps the MILES study sites and both contribute to Idaho’s capacity to train students and conduct world-class research on coupled social and ecological systems.

Idaho Team Wins Major Award for Graduate Education A team of University of Idaho scientists, led by Jan Boll and including Co-PI’s Brian Kennedy, Timothy Link, Manoj Shrestha, and John Tracy has been awarded the National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program (IGERT), $3.1 million over five years, for “Adaptation to change in water resources: science to inform decision-making across disciplines, cultures and scales.” The IGERT is designed to educate a diverse group of US Ph.D. scientists and engineers with interdisciplinary backgrounds, content knowledge in chosen disciplines, and technical, professional, and personal skills. It will establish a new model for graduate education and training in an environment (like the NSF EPSCoR MILES program) for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Did You Know? This IGERT directly addresses

the ability to effectively integrate knowledge across disciplines and

to extend knowledge beyond the

academic setting to policy makers

and stakeholders, a process known


as “research integration.”

WC-WAVE Annual Meeting

Snow Camp builds Knowledge & fosters Teamwork Students and researchers from the Tri-State Consortium (Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico) gathered in Idaho in mid-March for the first-ever Western Consortium for Watershed Analysis, Visualization, and Exploration (WCWAVE) Snow Camp. Through three days of team-oriented data collection and analysis, participants designed and implemented a field campaign to estimate and communicate the significance of water stored as snow. Discussions and field demonstrations focused on scales of variability in water storage, from variability at a point to

variability within the larger watershed. This allowed professors and students from very different disciplines, such as computers science and hydrology, to better understand each other’s perspectives and the role of snow accumulation and melt in the water cycle of a mountain watershed. In the process, Snow Camp participants also developed a collaborative teamoriented cohort of students who reside at universities in three different states. These students will be working together during the next two years under the WC-WAVE project to develop tools and techniques to better understand and communicate the

L to R, Haroon Stephen and Chao Chen Photo by Sajjad Ahmad

importance of the timing and availability of water to Western landscapes and communities.

2014 Western Consortium for Watershed Analysis, Visualization, and Exploration (WC-WAVE) Meeting Idaho ~ Nevada ~ New Mexico March 19-21, 2014 ~ Boise, Idaho


MILES Annual Meeting

Dr. David McIlroy Jean’ne M. Shreeve NSF EPSCoR Research Excellence Award L to R: Rick Schumaker, Laird Noh, David McIlroy, Jean’ne Shreeve, Peter Goodwin, Doyle Jacklin

David McIlroy’s dedication to nanotechnology has opened doors for research at the University of Idaho and across the state. In recognition of these efforts, McIlroy, a UI professor of physics, has won the Jean’ne M. Shreeve NSF EPSCoR Research Excellence Award. Idaho’s National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, known as NSF EPSCoR, selects one researcher from UI, Boise State University or Idaho State University each year to receive this prestigious award, which is named for longtime UI chemist and former EPSCoR director Jean’ne Shreeve. McIlroy discovered nanosprings, coils of silica that are about 200 nanometers thick – about 500 times thinner than a human hair. In conjunction with this work, he’s been a champion of nanoscience research across campuses and disciplines in Idaho. “We recognized very early on that there was an opportunity to get a foothold in the field of nanoscience and nanomaterials,” he said NSF EPSCoR grants from 2002-2008 aimed to strengthen nanotechnology research in Idaho and helped McIlroy develop his nanospring research and secure another major grant to take nanosprings worldwide. “It allowed us to take what was a scientific, lab-scale concept and transform it into a technology-scale project,” McIlroy says. “We could make enough of the stuff to supply it to people outside the university and in industry.” EPSCoR State Committee Chairman Laird Noh said McIlroy earned the Shreeve award due to his high standards of excellence of himself and the students he has mentored, as well as his work ethic.

“He worked hard, published much and broke new scientific ground, nationally and internationally,” Noh said. “He demonstrated, for the first time, the ability to grow materials where both the material itself and the morphology can be controlled on the nanoscale. And he took risks to move his discoveries into the marketplace.” Researchers around the world now are experimenting with marketable uses for nanosprings. Unlike many nanomaterials, nanosprings are easy to make in large quantities and at a reasonable cost. UI has licensed the technology to two companies, and university researchers continue to experiment with applications in biofuels, composite materials and fuel cells, and to support catalysts for research in chemistry. “As we develop these things, it’s important to have a footprint in the landscape of nano, because down the road it could end up being very, very big,” McIlroy said. “You get a lot of mileage from excellent discoveries – maybe not right now, but down the road.” By Tara Roberts, University of Idaho

Did You Know? This award opportunity will be

available for Idaho researchers in

perpetuity due to a generous private



2014 Idaho NSF EPSCoR Annual Meeting EPSCoR researchers, Project Advisory Board members, State Committee members, and affiliates from across Idaho met April 22-24 at The Coeur d’Alene in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for the 2014 Idaho NSF EPSCoR Annual Meeting. Dr. Sharon Nunes, recently retired from IBM, gave the keynote address, “Smarter Cities and why they are relevant to rural geographies.” The meeting highlights included a tour of the Fernan Lake Watershed, a public lecture, updates on the progress of the MILES project, and faculty development workshops.

Dr. Sharon Nunes, IBM (ret.), Keynote Speaker and External Project Advisory Board Member

Workforce Development, External Engagement, Diversity

Idaho has Ambitious Goals for Diversity and Workforce Development The statewide Idaho EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) award, Managing Idaho’s Landscapes for Ecosystem Services (MILES) has ambitious goals for recruitment and retention of women, underrepresented minority (URM) students, and faculty and students from Idaho’s Predominantly Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), including two 2-year colleges. According to 2012 Census data Idaho’s minority population is 14.2% of the total. Hispanics and Native Americans/Native Alaskans make up the largest segments of the State’s URM population. During the past decade (2000-2010), Idaho’s Hispanic population grew by 73%, while Idaho’s overall population increased by 21%. Although increasing, there has not been a corresponding level of URM students enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) at our universities. In 2011, URMs represented 7.7% of Idaho’s undergraduate STEM majors, and received 5.3% of STEM bachelor’s degrees awarded.

Idaho EPSCoR’s diversity goals will be accomplished by investing in: (1) increased recruitment and collaboration with programs that serve women, minority, students from PUIs, and students with disabilities, (2) recruiting URM students to undergraduate research and internships, (3) encouraging MILES faculty to recruit URM graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and (4) seeking a diverse pool of candidates for the 11 new EPSCoR-supported faculty positions at our universities. The EPSCoR RII award provides several formal opportunities to increase participation of URM students and faculty in research and education related to the MILES theme: the MILES Undergraduate Research and Internship Program (MURI), community involvement through Adventure Learning (AL), and the MILES Ambassador Program, all mentioned in this newsletter.


Adventure Learning Photo by Karalyn Hartford

The Adventure Learning (AL) approach is being utilized to involve middle and high school students and teachers, scientists, stakeholders, and the general public in Idaho’s Managing Idaho’s Landscapes for Ecosystem Services (MILES) project. AL is a hybrid distance education approach. The goal of AL activities is to engage these diverse audiences as participants that have valuable information to share and learn from one another. A rich, engaging, multimedia environment online will provide the space for participants on site and those following along online to engage in conversations about important work being done in their community. Additionally, with each MILES site (i.e. Pocatello, the Treasure Valley, and Coeur d’Alene) conducting an AL summer expedition, each site will contribute to an overarching Idaho narrative on Social Ecological System (SES) research that is impacting communities in a variety of ways. MILES AL efforts are being planned in close collaboration with each partner institution (ISU, BSU, and UI), and each has a team of faculty and graduate students preparing for the first MILES AL summer expedition series. Graduate students from the McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) are planning the research efforts and working with each site team to develop curriculum, the expedition plan, and logistical support. MOSS faculty and students recently completed a statewide tour to get to know the various research sites and the project partners and some of the stakeholders that they would be working with this summer. They used the opportunity to pilot test the AL website by making daily blog updates at The significant outcomes anticipated are to develop a sustainable approach for:1) collaboration and interaction of K-12 students and teachers, scientists, stakeholders, and the general public around important SES research; and 2) scientists

to communicate their important work that is associated with standards based curriculum. Idaho EPSCoR previously provided seed money to the McCall Outdoor Science School to establish a cyberlearning curriculum and web-based tools for citizen science. These small projects laid the groundwork for a successful NSF CI: TEAM proposal titled “Adventure Learning through Water and MOSS” (Award #1135577). This work also enabled MOSS to bring AL to its existing field science programs and provided a testing ground for much of the emerging theoretical framework and practices that will drive this summer’s AL expeditions at MILES study areas.

Did You Know? The first cohort of MILES Undergraduate Research and Internships (MURI) were

involved in research this Spring. Thirty-

one interns worked under faculty mentors

from many different disciplines on projects

ranging from incorporating social-ecological data in a virtual reality game, to noninvasive DNA sampling of endangered species populations, to water column

phosphorus loading from lakebed sediments. This summer another 31 Undergraduate Students will particpate

• the RESEARCHER - PAGE 10 •

NSF EPSCoR MILES Ambassadors The Ambassador Program is designed to foster stronger relationships between Idaho’s 2-year and 4-year colleges and research universities, and increase the number of students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) pipeline of research and education. Ambassadors are ‘campus champions’ who can connect instructors and students to EPSCoR and related STEM opportunities throughout the State.

DAVE MAKINGS College of Southern Idaho (CSI) Dave Makings is Professor Emeritus at College of Southern Idaho. Dave earned his B.S. in Zoology from Colorado State University, an M.A in Biology (Environmental emphasis) from University of Northern Colorado, and his Ed D. Adult Education and Teacher Education at University of Idaho. Over the years Dave has engaged in a number of research activities from renewable energy, sustainable and integrated agriculture, validating and assigning Credit for Prior Learning, the Plant Operations Technology Program, the Para Educator Program, and education technology.

KEEGAN SCHMIDT Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC) Keegan Schmidt is a professor in the Earth Science program at Lewis-Clark State College. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, where he conducted research on the tectonic development of the Peninsular Ranges batholith in Baja California, Mexico. He has continued this research subject in the Idaho batholith and accreted Wallowa terrane in north-central Idaho and collaborates on geological mapping projects in Idaho with researchers at the Idaho Geological Survey. Keegan directs the Earth Science program at Lewis-Clark State College.

WILLARD PACK College of Western Idaho (CWI) Willard Pack is the Department Chair of Physical Sciences at College of Western Idaho (CWI). He began teaching developmental math at CWI in fall 2011 and soon learned that his passion was in the field of education. He became Department Chair in 2013 and has been working on expanding the programs within the physical sciences, specifically in developing the engineering discipline. His work experience prior to education was in the field of water and wastewater engineering in southern Nevada, concentrating his efforts on computer aided modeling of water quantity and quality.

JULIE VAN MIDDLESWORTH North Idaho College (NIC) Julie Van Middlesworth is an environmental scientist with significant and diverse experience regarding water quality, water conservation and environmental restoration gained across academic, private and non-profit sectors. She currently directs undergraduate research and teaches environmental science and geology at North Idaho College. While pursuing an M.S. in Aqueous Geochemistry at the University of Idaho, she studied the fate and transport of heavy metals in various environments. Current projects include heavy metal bioavailability in the Coeur d’Alene watershed, nutrient reduction via floating wetlands and stormwater education at the NIC Gathering Garden.

• the RESEARCHER - PAGE 11 •

Idaho EPSCoR 875 Perimeter Drive MS 3029 Moscow, ID 83844-3029 208-885-7102

Kudos Idaho to Create Unique Program for Indigenous STEM Research & Graduate Education (ISTEM) The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Idaho nearly $750,000 for an EPSCoR Track 3 award to increase the number of Native American students obtaining Masters and PhD degrees in STEM fields. The underrepresentation of American Indian people in graduate level science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research and education is an issue that must be addressed in order to safeguard the future of Native American communities and Nations, and to ensure a viable, healthy, national STEM

workforce. This project creates a national program for Indigenous STEM Research and Graduate Education (ISTEM) that has a focus of a Regional Native Network (RN2) of nine institutions of higher education. Led by the University of Idaho, Marcos Galindo (PI), Brant Miller (Co-PI), Ronald Hardy (CoPI) ISTEM aims to create interdisciplinary courses combining western science with culturally relevant examples.

Fernan Lake Watershed Study Site Tour ~ Idaho EPSCoR Annual Meeting ~ April 24, 2014

Idaho EPSCoR Spring 2014 Newsletter  

Idaho EPSCoR Objective: The primary objective of EPSCoR is to stimulate research in niche areas that can become fully competitive in the dis...

Idaho EPSCoR Spring 2014 Newsletter  

Idaho EPSCoR Objective: The primary objective of EPSCoR is to stimulate research in niche areas that can become fully competitive in the dis...