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January 7, 2015

iUTAH Team Comes Together in Becoming EPSCoR Champions

On November 6-7, several of iUTAH’s researchers, leaders, educators, and graduate students gathered at the University of Utah for an interactive, hands-on communications workshop. The Becoming EPSCoR Champions workshop, hosted by the National Science Foundation (NSF), was created to help equip professionals with the skills to communicate in their future endeavors, which includes: obtaining grants, communicating with Program Officers, legislators, colleagues, administrators and the public, as well as everyday obligations.


Communications experts Dan Agan—a media strategist, communications counselor, and former PBS executive—and Joe Schreiber—an Emmy Award-winning TV producer and filmmaker—lead the two day workshop, hosted by Susan Mason, head of NSF’s External Affairs. They worked one-on-one with participants, sharing professional approaches and real-world insight to better participant’s messages, presentations, and speaking skills.  


Over the course of two days, the group of thirteen participants focused on preparing and presenting four-minute speeches about iUTAH, as well as practicing their interviewing skills in two different filmed sessions. It was a fantastic opportunity to practice and develop important communication skills, and to interact with other EPSCoR participants.


iUTAH’s new Assistant Director, Andy Leidolf, said, “This was an incredible learning experience, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. As somebody who has just come on board with iUTAH, I felt this also turned out to be a great team-building exercise. It would have been valuable to see more iUTAH participants take part in this great opportunity.”


The conference was also designed to facilitate better communication habits and provide tips for improvement. Participant and graduate student Yusuf Jameel said, “The EPSCoR workshop was really helpful in improving my presentation skills. The different segments of the workshop helped me improve my different shortcomings immensely. As scientists we tend to focus more on our work and less on how to communicate it. The workshop provided me with useful tips and information to display my work and knowledge to non-scientific audience in a scientific, yet lucid way. It also helped me focus on points that connect personally with my audience, avoiding details that can leave them uninterested and disconnected.”


At the end of the conference, our participants walked away with newfound skills that they can use in their everyday communications. Overall it was a beneficial learning experience that brought members of our team together as “ESPCoR Champions.”


April 2, 2014

USDA EPSCoR process

The USDA EPSCoR standing only counts for application to AFRI programs, which covers most of USDA's competitive grants programs. In the application package there is a form called AFRI Project Type where the PI checks the box for the type of grant for which they are applying.  

Utah PIs would be eligible for any of those listed under FASE Strengthening. For a regular grant application, PIs would check "strengthening standard" or "strengthening CAP" (CAP is a large multi-institutional integrated project). There is no other difference in the application besides this form. But Utah PIs can also apply for sabbatical, equipment, or seed grant--these are only available to EPSCoR, small-to-medium sized universities, and minority serving institutions. 

The deadlines, LOI requirement, review, etc. are all the same as a non-EPSCoR proposal, but EPSCoR PIs can be funded from set-aside funds (~7.5 percent of the total program funds).


January 7, 2014

CI-WATER's ADHydro: Up and running

For Bob Steinke and the rest of the CI-WATER researchers working on ADHydro, their hard work and dedication has paid off with the completion of the model.

“We have the code running, with groundwater, surface water infiltration and channels, rivers, and lakes,” says Bob Steinke, a software engineer at the University of Wyoming. “It’s running, it’s not crashing, and we get results out.”

ADHydro is a new hydrology model that will allow researchers in the field to better understand water processes, including how fast water soaks through the soil, how fast water flows over land and more. Now that ADHydro is running, researchers will continue to work on the model and build on it, making it faster and more powerful.

“The next step is really performance improvement,” says Bob.  “We get results out, but now we have to make sure those results are right.”

For the whole team working on ADHydro, getting it up and running is a huge success.

“We’re happy with our progress,” Bob says. 



November 11, 2013

Gov. Gary Herbert Appoints an iUTAH Scientist from USU to State's Water Team

Gov. Gary Herbert named Utah State University scientists Joanna Endter-Wada (iUTAH) and Robert Gillies to Utah’s State Water Strategy Advisory Team, a 38-member group tasked with developing a 50-year water plan for the nation’s “second driest state.”


Endter-Wada is an associate professor of natural resource and environmental policy, water management and planning and human ecology in USU’s Department of Environment and Society in the Quinney College of Natural Resources and the USU Ecology Center. She is a project participant with innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydro-sustainability, better known as “iUTAH,” a statewide, National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research-funded project based at USU.



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