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2013 in Review IDAHO NSF EPSCOR


Communicating Science Simply

Participants at the National Science Foundation Science: Becoming the Messenger Workshop hosted by Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, May, 2013

Communicating the important of science to society is fundamental to any researcher’s success. The key is an ability to communicate science in a way that makes science understandable for everyone. Albert Einstein says it best, “Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.” A top priority for Idaho EPSCoR is to enable the research community to communicate science effectively. As stated in the EPSCoR 2030 Report, recommendation 5, “The EPSCoR Success Story” needs to be told. The public must see the connection between a scientist’s research and the impacts on quality of life, economic development and high quality in education. The National Science Foundation Office of Legislative and Public Affairs (OLPA) created an interactive workshop series that target the effective communication in research and education in science and engineering throughout the EPSCoR community. In May, NSF OLPA hosted this workshop “Science: Becoming the Messenger” in Boise to help 100+ of Idaho scientists, engineers and educators to communicate effectively to non-technical audiences. The two-day event featured three prominent speakers: Emmy Award-Winning television producer Joe Schreiber; former Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) executive Dan Agan; and bestselling science journalist Chris Mooney. “As we become better communicators, our neighbors, colleagues, and students will have a chance to get excited about science they hear about from us...and that is always a good thing!”, said workshop participant Amy Christopherson, College of Southern Idaho. Idaho EPSCoR will continue this communication theme “Scientists as Communicators” at our Idaho Annual Meeting to be held in McCall, Idaho, October 7-9, 2013.

Making Global Data Relevant to Local Communities

climate models with temperature, precipitation, winds, solar radiation and humidity at small scales (~ 2 miles).

Dr. John Abatzoglou, assistant professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Idaho, along with other scientists in Idaho have generated local-scale climate projections from regional-scale atmospheric variables, through a process called statistical downscaling. Their state-of-the art process allows us to understand future climate by incorporating observed weather patterns with

Local-scale climate projections are critical in helping us understand the potential ramifications of climate change on water resources, wildfires, and other natural resources. Idaho Research is leading to a better understanding of the processes associated with climate fluctuations within the same season (months), across multiple seasons (years), and even changes that span decades. It is helping other

Idaho EPSCoR 2013 Year in Review • the RESEARCHER| SUMMER 2013 - PAGE 2 •


scientists, farmers, land managers, and policy makers in Idaho and other Western states to better understand and plan for water and natural resource management in a changing climate. Idaho and other western states depend heavily on natural resources (including agriculture, forestry, recreation, and energy). The vigor of these resources depends on the timing and availability of water, which is itself directly related to the climate. Global Climate Models cannot be used directly for local studies and planning because they have coarse spatial resolution, typically unable to distinguish features smaller than 100 miles long on the landscape. Idaho has added significant research capacity, including researchers with expertise in downscaling of Global Climate Models to make them useful at the local level.

Predicted percent change in annual snowfall liquid water equivalent for 2031-2060 versus 1950-1999 averaged from 14 downscaled CMIP5 models. Areas that received less than 25mm snowfall liquid water equivalent under current climate conditions are highlighted white.

Big Hit! 5th Annual Junior Faculty Leadership Workshop with Contributions from Natalie Willoughby, New Mexico EPSCoR

This year, NM EPSCoR received 24 applications from applicants with backgrounds ranging from science to computing to education.

Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico NSF EPSCoR formed a consortium of EPSCoR states with similar research agendas related to climate change and water resources in 2009. The consortium model significantly increases opportunities for scientific collaboration and enhances each state’s ability to secure competitive funding and tackle complex climate change research agendas. The annual workshop for junior faculty at the Valles Caldera Science & Education center in Jemez Springs, New Mexico was a big hit. The three-day workshop in January 2013 was packed with exercises and collaboration for the largest group of junior faculty with the most diverse academic backgrounds in the workshop’s five year history. Idaho attendees were: Dr. Sanchari Ghosh, Boise State University; Dr. Raghunath Kanakala, Idaho State University and Dr. Robert Heinse, University of Idaho.

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OUTREACH AND EDUCATION CRYSTAL KOLDEN, Students Learn Global Climate Science University scientists in Idaho are working together to overcome key barriers to teaching high school students about climate change. Researchers are providing teachers and students with: 1) a better understanding of fundamental climate science, 2) access to and knowledge of resources and activities to use in the classroom, and 3) place-based materials that are relevant to the local communities where students live.

CARIE GREEN, C4D@ISU Bridges Connections Nine modules were created in a Cyber-enabled Climate Change Curriculum Development project (C4D@ISU) for Idaho middle and high school students. Through data analysis, quantitative reasoning, and modeling, students investigate climate change research. Specifically, the materials were designed to engage middle and high school teachers and students in learning about the hydrological, socio-economical, and cultural implications of climate change in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest region.

Carie Green, Assistant Professor, College of Education, Idaho State University

The curriculum is currently being disseminated to middle and high school teachers across Idaho through blogs, emails, conference presentations, and professional development training. Teachers can use this curriculum to engage students in real-world scientific inquiry, specifically through highlighting the research of Idaho scientists and promoting interest in and understanding of STEM fields. The curriculum is also aligned to the Common Core State Standards; it enables students to analyze and interpret data, formulate arguments, and generate scientific claims.

American Falls High School teacher, Tom Dieffenbach, and his students prepare to set up a weather station for monitoring dayto-day weather and long-term climate near Pocatello, Idaho

Teachers from 10 rural Idaho high schools have learned how to explain abstract concept of climate science in teachable units that students can understand. In addition, over 500 primarily underserved minority students experienced climate ‘Adventures’ in 2013 where they participated in the discovery process and learned how climate change may impact their local communities. Idaho scientists working on climate change research and education are funded by multiple agencies, including the NSF EPSCoR, NASA, and the USDA. They have joined forces by working together to strengthen climate science education in Idaho, particularly at schools that serve Native American and Latino populations. Through the Intermountain Climate Education Network (ICE Net), teachers have been trained to use novel teaching resources, such as the Climate Science Matrix, to break down the key concepts of climate science and apply them in their science classes.

C4D@ISU bridges the Idaho science community and K-12 teachers and students. Specifically, the C4D@ISU resulted from collaboration between Idaho EPSCoR scientists and educators. The modules span in purpose covering basic scientific evidence for climate change, hydrological impacts in the Salmon River basin, temperature and evaporation rates, and the social, economical, and cultural implications to Idaho communities. The curriculum is also linked with middle and high school social studies standards; modules are designed to challenge students to critically reflect on the historical and present day cultural ecology of Idaho Indigenous tribes and their personal connections to the places they live.

KARLA EITEL, Adventure Learning through Water and MOSS Adventure Learning through Water and MOSS focuses on preparing students who are capable of addressing two critical needs for the 21st century: stewardship of water resources and development of digital literacy skills. The initial goal of our project was to create a simple interface for K-12 students to upload their water data to a database built on a platform called HydroServer Lite Interactive Web Client. It is designed to interface with the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement

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of Hydrologic Sciences Hydrologic Information System (CUAHSI-HIS). This goal later become broader by linking three resources together: the MOSS cyberlearning website, a data entry portal, and the adventure learning curriculum. These three resources will be heavily used in the MOSS residential K-12 and teacher education programs to teach about water resources under climate change scenarios. This project is a collaboration between the University of Idaho McCall Outdoor Science School (Dr. Karla Eitel, Dr. Jan Eitel and Dr. R. Justin Hougham), University of Idaho College of Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction (Dr. Brant Miller), Idaho State University Geospatial Software Laboratory (Dr. Dan Ames, Tiffani White and team, Donna Delparte) and The University of Texas at Austin.

The Northwest Knowledge Network (NKN) – a resource for Idaho researchers The Northwest Knowledge Network was established, partly with NSF EPSCoR funding, to provide a resource for research data archiving and sharing for Idaho and the region. Many research-funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation now require researchers to archive data collected with grant money into a publicly accessible repository so that they can help to build our national science data archives. The NKN data portal is now available, with resources to help researchers tag their data with important details of data collection and processing (e.g. metadata) before depositing it into the NKN archive. These metadata can then be “exposed” to the world via the web so that researchers can find and explore these datasets as well as cite the owners or authors of the data if they are used for other purposes. The NKN team at the University of Idaho also includes student interns and graduate students who get hands-on experience in learning about research data management in our expanding world of BIG data! The development of the NKN portal is also crucial for enabling multi-disciplinary research that uses data from numerous disciplines to tackle complex issues and problems. Visit www.northwestknowledge.net to learn more.

Students use an iPad in the field to upload blog posts and water quality data to the CUAHSI HIS database through HydroServer Lite on the MOSS Adventure Learning website. The tool developed out of this partnership is now being used in another research lab at Idaho State University under the direction of Dr. Ben Crosby. In addition, a citizen science program through University of Idaho extension, called IDAH2O – Master Water Stewards, is using it for their data entry as well. Sixteen MOSS graduate students use the adventure learning website weekly with their K-12 field groups. These students lead teams of 8-10 K-12 students (mostly 6th grade) on inquiry driven expeditions to collect field data on water resources. K-12 students then post this data on the website along with pictures, videos, and writing. Through these content resources, communication tools and data upload processes, more than 2500 students and teachers at MOSS will be able to participate in research, education and outreach.

Mountain watersheds provide a large proportion of water and ecosystem services to communities in the intermountain west. Climate change impacts affect the ability of these watersheds to improve water quality, groundwater storage, and flow moderation. Even subtle changes in climate may lead to cascading impacts on interactions between precipitation, vegetation growth, soil moisture, and other landscape properties, but the mechanisms responsible for observed and projected change are poorly understood. In order to address the challenge of understanding hydrologic change in highelevation watersheds, the EPSCoR jurisdictions of Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico have collaborated to create the Western Consortium for Watershed Analysis, Visualization and Exploration (WC-WAVE). WC-WAVE will create a virtual watershed (VW) framework to create and integrate watershed models. The VW framework capabilities will simulate watershed dynamics, enabling researchers to easily acquire and integrate data, visualize the data to obtain results, and identify environmental consequences of hydrologic changes. (Idaho Award #IIA-1329513, 8/1/13 - 7/31/16) For more information visit www.westernconsortium.org.

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2013 Idaho EPSCoR Annual Meeting

EPSCoR researchers, state committee members and affiliates from across Idaho met Oct. 7-9 at the Shore Lodge in McCall for the 2013 Idaho NSF EPSCoR Annual Meeting. The meeting marked the end of the previous RII project, “Water Resources in a Changing Climate,” and the introduction of the new five-year RII project, “Managing Idaho’s Landscapes for Ecosystem Services.” Noted ecologist Dr. Steven Running of the University of Montana gave the keynote address, “Energy and Food Security in a Changing Climate,” and spoke about water’s relation to climate change in the Northern Rockies on the conference’s second day. Faculty and students from participating institutions also presented their work in lectures and poster sessions. Student Poster Competion winners were Erin Murray, Boise State University; Chris Tennant, Idaho State University; and Ed Flathers, University of Idaho. All speakers’ presentations are available on the Idaho EPSCoR webiste www.idahoepscor.org, along with poster abstracts, PDFs and images.

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Treasure Valley

Coeur d’Alene-Post Falls

Pocatello-Idaho Falls

NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) award will Strengthen Idaho’s Capacity to Integrate Social and Natural Sciences On June 1, 2013, Idaho received a new, 5-year, $20M, National Science Foundation (NSF) EPSCoR, Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) award. This highly competitive grant will increase the capacity of the Idaho scientific community to conduct nationally competitive research in a complex, new field which integrates social and natural sciences, and provides practical tools to assist decision makers in managing natural resources on a sustainable, long-term basis. The easily remembered acronym, MILES, stands for Managing Idaho’s Landscapes for Ecosystem Services. Ecosystem Services, a term new to many and easily misunderstood, simply refers to the economic and societal benefits which humans obtain from the natural resources and landscapes upon which we depend. The MILES project will focus on three growing metropolitan areas of Idaho: the Treasure Valley, Coeur d’Alene-Post Falls, and Pocatello-Idaho Falls. Each has different resources upon which it depends and different challenges to realize sustainable growth. As the research unfolds and scientific tools are developed to assist decision makers, there will be a strong emphasis upon building collaborations with local, state, tribal and federal agencies and other stakeholders. In making this award, the NSF expressed support for an Idaho effort that will ultimately strengthen the ability of rapidly growing, mid-sized cities across the US to achieve sustainable growth. The MILES theme This is a statewide program committed is well aligned to the concept of Idaho EPSCoR’s with Idaho’s “ONEIdaho” vision of an integrated, State Science and productive, and creative community Technology plan of Idaho researchers that transcends and the Five-Year institutional and disciplinary Strategic Research boundaries. Plan for Idaho Higher Education. It takes advantage of strengths at each of Idaho’s universities (e.g., agricultural and natural resources, engineering, biological sciences, and public policy). It also capitalizes

on a high level of coordination among our research universities and existing intrastate networks that serve as a foundation for data collection and analysis. More specifically, the new EPSCoR RII MILES award will: • Train 300 undergraduate students through research experiences in MILES-related disciplines • Hire 11 new professors dedicated to research, teaching, public service, and enabling more integrative research • Nurture early career faculty through mentoring and opportunities for Social Ecological Systems (SES) research collaborations • Provide seed funding and support innovative, collaborative research • Contribute to increasing diversity (individual, institutional, and geographic) in the State’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) enterprise • Improve cyber and computer infrastructure research in data interoperability and visual-analytics to support researchers and stakeholders working together • Increase engagement of stakeholders and partners, thereby bridging the gap between science and policy • Engage and grow state, regional, national, and international partnerships to sustain gains achieved through MILES and generate subsequent funding • Grow and diversify the STEM workforce through improved mentoring, workforce training, and professional development opportunities. This program will increase Idaho’s capacity to conduct nationally competitive research in a complex, new field; will provide practical tools to assist decision makers in managing natural resources; and will ultimately contribute to our environmental quality, social wellbeing, and economic prosperity.

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OUTREACH AND EDUCATION MILES has Ambitious Goals for Diversity and Workforce Development The Idaho EPSCoR MILES diversity and workforce development initiatives have 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 total minority population is 14.2%. Hispanics and Native Americans/ Native Alaskans make up the largest segments of the state’s URM population. During the past decade (20002010), Idaho’s Hispanic population grew by 73%, while Idaho’s overall population increased by 21%. The BoiseTreasure Valley Area (a MILES Study Area) experienced the greatest Hispanic influx of any area of the state. But there is not a corresponding level of URM STEM enrollment 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. The RII 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) recruitment of a diverse pool of candidates for the 11 new EPSCoRsupported faculty positions at our universities. The EPSCoR RII award provides several specific 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.

University of Idaho Junior Vanessa Santos

The MURI Program will engage STEM undergraduates in hands-on, paid summer and academic year research experience studying many different aspects of the MILES research. Sixty MURI Scholars positions will be offered each year, with a large percentage of those targeting underrepresented populations (e.g., women and ethnic minorities). Special efforts will also be made to recruit URM students, students with disabilities, and PUI students to participate. Stakeholders interested in having MURI scholars in internship positions with their organizations are also eligible to apply for funding. EPSCoR also provides opportunities for community members and K-12 students and teachers in STEM fields to participate. The MILES project will use Adventure Learning (AL) to involve people in STEM activities related to MILES research at or near the MILES Study Areas, including those at Boise/Treasure Valley, Post Falls/Coeur d’Alene, and Idaho Falls/Pocatello. AL is an approach that uses a combination of place-based face-to-face settings and

Adventure Learning Site - McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS)

online networking. AL participants (in-person and online) will include in-service teachers, pre-service teachers, high school students, MILES researchers, journalists, stakeholders, and MURI student(s). Groups will develop site-specific curriculum and will participate in preadventure communication via social media. The hands-on Adventure Learning activities will take place in the summer with all participants (some in-person and others following online) followed by post-event activities to build on the learning experience. Idaho NSF EPSCoR also strives to increase the participation of 2-year and 4-year Idaho colleges, known as primarily undergraduate institutions (PUI’s), in MILES research and education. The NSF EPSCoR Ambassador Program will lead to greater levels of PUI participation in Idaho EPSCoR activities, and increase the number of students completing STEM degrees at the university-level. STEM faculty at Idaho’s PUIs will serve as ‘campus champions’ to promote MILES-related opportunities for their colleagues and students, and build lasting partnerships between PUIs and Idaho’s research universities. For more information on any of the Diversity and Workforce Development efforts contact sarahp@uidaho.edu.

Photo by Kaitlin Moroney, Argonaut

Idaho EPSCoR 2013 Year in Review • the RESEARCHER| FALL 2013 - PAGE 8 •


Idaho EPSCoR 2013 in Review  

The primary objective of EPSCoR is to stimulate research in niche areas that can become fully competitive in the disciplinary and multidisci...

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