Participant Support Scope: Graduate Students: NRT: IN FElloWS & an Academy of Innovators at the Nexus of Food, Energy & Water Systems

Grants and Contracts Details


Our vision is the development of a training program which addresses the critical need for a skilled workforce equipped to meet three key challenges faced by mankind, namely, providing adequate amounts of food to a growing population, generating energy that is both sustainable and carbon-neutral, and managing water resources. To this end, we will establish an academy of innovators at the nexus of food, energy & water systems that incorporates the most effective models for the training of STEM professionals, including network-based mentoring and career preparation which incorporates technical and professional skill development. Features of this academy will include student IN FElloWShips, to be awarded annually, and individual development plans for all of the IN FElloWS. As part of this, IN FElloWs will be matched with a mentoring team, all mentors and IN FElloWS receiving joint mentoring training. The development of professional skills will be closely integrated with interdisciplinary courses and research focusing on synergizing algae, agriculture, water treatment and power generation technologies to attain sustainability both in water use and in the concurrent production of energy, fuel and food. The need for innovative and transformative models for the training of STEM professionals is clearly indicated by the pitfalls commonly found in training efforts. For instance, although mentoring has been proven to improve the retention, performance and leadership traits of students in graduate school, mentoring initiatives are typically challenged by the absence of adequate training, not only for the participating mentors, but also for the mentees. Similarly, albeit the technical and professional skills that STEM graduate students need to acquire and/or develop are well-known, these students are commonly left to independently and competitively drive their own development, with constituting the default advising style. Consequently, developmental network-based mentoring is increasingly gaining recognition as a preferable approach to one-on-one classic mentoring. Moreover, the need for a workforce comprising trained and skilled innovators working at the nexus of food, energy & water systems is most palpable in Appalachian states like Kentucky, where the economy is heavily dependent on both the energy and agricultural sectors.
Effective start/end date9/1/198/31/25


  • National Science Foundation


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