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Water Research Grant Includes CHASS Students


By Laila Rashid, CHASS Dean’s Office Student Intern
November 15, 2012

For the very first time, a prestigious National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship, or IGERT, award was granted to two UCR graduate students in the social sciences. The two students selected are Nathan Wittstruck, who is pursuing his Ph.D. in economics, and Kendra Webber, who is pursuing hers in political science. IGERT is the leading interdisciplinary training program of the National Science Foundation.  The grant, which totals a whopping 3 million dollars, provides guaranteed funding for five years; each fellowship comes with a two-year stipend at $30,000 per year, in addition to research and travel funds. It is a continuing grant that began on July 1 of this year and will run all the way until the estimated date of June 30, 2017.  The IGERT grant has five co-Principal Investigators; two are faculty from CNAS, one from BCOE, and two from CHASS. The CHASS faculty co-PIs are Anil Deolalikar (economics) and Mary Gauvain (psychology).

Due to the increasing threat of water scarcity, the need to improve water quantity and quality has never been greater. While working closely with the intended beneficiaries, students will be trained in all aspects of water and water-borne disease management including proposing, implementing, and assessing water-based interventions. Teams will focus on research within the areas of public education, water policy and management, water-borne contaminant detection and effects, vector disease control, and water treatment and remediation, specifically in the California-Mexico border region. According to IGERT, the traineeship provides an opportunity for students to work in leadership positions in nonprofit, government, and private organizations interested in improving community health and child development outcomes via improved water supply, management, and utilization. In addition to the five co-PIs, another twenty UCR faculty members, with several being from CHASS, will serve as collaborators on the grant.

Nathan’s interests lie in economic development and issues of water and poverty; his passion was sparked after residing in Latin America for four years and realizing the substantial need for trained economists in the field of development. He looks forward to this opportunity and views interdisciplinary research as interesting, challenging, and a crucial component of global advancement.

Kendra’s interests lie in Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically public health education and women’s empowerment. During her undergraduate career, she conducted field research on women and education in Mali, and plans to study ethnic conflict, human rights abuses, and corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa. Kendra hopes that her experience as an IGERT fellow will allow her to put effective development and sustainability techniques into practice in the developing world.

Kendra Webber
Kendra Webber
Nathan Wittstruck
Nathan Wittstruck

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