Project Details


Landscapes are accumulating stresses across multiple sectors due to accelerations in the pace and magnitude of natural disturbances, nutrient pollution, energy transformations, land use, and urbanization. Management of these landscapes must necessarily address these processes collectively, recognizing the vast timescales of systems' development, and focus on solutions. This National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) award to The Pennsylvania State University provides interdisciplinary training opportunities in ecology, human dimensions of natural resource management, and agriculture and development, while training the next generation of scholar-practitioners to deftly cross disciplinary boundaries and work in partnership with stakeholders to co-create solutions to these challenges. Landscape gradients within the Chesapeake Bay watershed exemplify the challenges facing linked food-energy-water systems globally and provide opportunities for developing strong science-management partnerships. The project anticipates training sixty (60) MS and PhD students, including thirty-five (35) funded doctoral trainees from ecology, natural resources, agriculture and development, and related disciplines.

New models of university-society partnerships are needed to find solutions to pressing food-energy-water problems at landscape scales. Through an orientation, foundational coursework, science communication training, internships, lab rotations, and community-building and outreach events, carefully aligned along existing intercollege graduate degree programs, trainees will have the confidence, skills, and professional networks necessary to have an impact on pressing societal challenges at local, regional, and global scales. Student-research case studies will explore landscape change across time, and may include: (1) the influence of critical zone processes (including the geological template) on hydrology patterns and subsequent decisions about food and energy systems, (2) the deep history of human entanglements in intertidal systems, based on archaeological evidence, that indicates sustainable oyster harvesting by Native Americans in the Chesapeake Bay, thus providing important baselines for sustainable restoration, and (3) energy transformations, many of which originated in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The traineeship focuses on transdisciplinary competencies for graduate education through an emphasis on regenerative solutions, ecological design and planning, and landscapes as the unit of analysis for linking food-energy-water systems across scales.

The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) Program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new potentially transformative models for STEM graduate education training. The program is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary research areas through comprehensive traineeship models that are innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs.

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 date9/1/188/31/24


  • National Science Foundation: $3,018,896.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.