IRES Track 1: Sources and solutions of nonpoint source pollution

Project: Research project

Project Details


Despite long-term investments in managing sources of water pollution, both the US and Australia struggle to see water quality improvement in water bodies like the Chesapeake Bay and Great Barrier Reef. This International Research Experience for Students (IRES) program will allow US students to engage in water quality research in Australia. Students will contribute to new solutions for managing pollution, thanks to a partnership between Pennsylvania State University and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Six students per year will be recruited from across Penn State's 24 campuses, which serve a wide range of communities. These students will be trained in a variety of research methods. Each student will develop an independent project and learn about approaches to water management. Participants will learn new techniques to identify sources of pollutants using low-cost sensors and best management practices. This unique global experience will give the next generation of engineers and scientists critical tools for helping solve the most difficult water resource challenges.

This partnership between Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and Pennsylvania State University will provide an opportunity for US students to conduct state-of-the-art field and laboratory research and learn about Australian approaches to managing water pollution in a watershed with different hydro-climatic conditions. Six total students (graduate and undergraduate) per year, recruited from across Penn State's 24 campuses, will embark on projects as a cohort for each of three years for this project. The program will last a total of ten weeks each year, including two weeks of remote training and planning sessions, seven weeks of in-person research in Australia during June and July, and a final week of conclusion and presentations at Penn State. The research has multiple areas of interest, including nutrient cycling, emerging contaminants, contaminant source tracking, best management practices, and novel water quality sensor application. While Monash faculty and staff will lead the research and field experience in Australia, each student will be co-mentored by faculty from Monash and Penn State. Having multiple students doing research projects at the same time within the watershed will allow for a uniquely intensive and integrative dataset on pollutant sources, sinks and transformations, as well as helping to better understand how to manage and improve the area. The results will be presented in both Australia and the US, and developed into written products for both academic and practitioner audiences.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date10/1/1810/31/24


  • National Science Foundation: $298,682.00


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