Proposal Title: Idaho Research Infrastructure Improvement
Institution: University of Idaho
The Idaho EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement award will, strengthen shared facilities, build capacity, and enhance research competitiveness in the general area of water quality and uses relating to environmental change - specifically for five integrated research themes: 1) hydrologic processes relating to the global debate on "Old Water" and it's variable chemistry, 2) carbon/water flux at the local soil-vegetation-atmosphere scale, 3) carbon/water export from watersheds and nutrient limitation, 4) fish physiology and genomics, and 5) aqueous environmental nanosensors. A diversity of researchers from the University of Idaho, Idaho State University, and Boise State University will be brought together in the kind of collaborative environment essential for useful and meaningful infrastructure improvement to increase competitiveness for federal research support. A highly instrumented Idaho Experimental Watershed Network will be established; data management and analysis capabilities will be strengthened for the Hydroinformatics Facility of the new Idaho Water Center; and a state-of-the-art regional water quality laboratory will be developed to strengthen collaborations with Idaho and regional Native American tribes as well as national and international researchers. This project will contribute to scientific understanding of environmental geochemical cycles and water quality and potentially to national and global policy formulation.
Undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral associates will be involved in research related to the five specified themes and graduate programs will be restructured to further the integration of research and education within the universities. Existing educational and public outreach programs will be strengthened to attract more students to scientific and engineering studies/careers and to increase public awareness of the role of research in higher education and its contribution to the state's economic growth. In particular, current, working relationships with Idaho's Native American Tribes in both research and education will be expanded to other states, engaging the broader Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Outreach efforts to the private sector also include a Phase 0 SBIR program, offering assistance with development and writing of more successful SBIR proposals to different agencies. The project offers strong potential for strengthening and expanding agriculture, aquaculture and related industries in Idaho.