PI: Dr. Allan Feldman, Education

Sponsor: National Science Foundation

The goal of this three year renewal REU site program is to provide a well structured research and professional development experience for sophomore and junior level undergraduate students in environmental related fields in the Colleges of Engineering, Arts and Sciences, Public Health, and Education at the University of South Florida (USF). It builds on the experience with a REU site started in 2009 by the Principal Investigator and refines the underlying research theme to the nexus of water, energy, materials and humans, with a particular emphasis on the Tampa Bay region. The objectives of the REU are to: 1) train student participants in the skills required for scientific research; 2) encourage student participants to pursue an advanced degree in an environmentally related area of research; 3) encourage students to consider the ethical aspects surrounding their research and the contribution of the research to sustaining healthy communities; 4) establish a sustainable mechanism for broadening participation of underrepresented groups in academic research; 5) promote mentoring between graduate and REU students, and 6) create a collaborative community committed to mentoring and advising undergraduate students in activities that advance faculty research. Thirty-six students will be directly supported by the grant, with six included on a supplement for education research. Three more will partake through USF's College of Engineering outreach program to Latin America and the Caribbean students. It involves fourteen research faculty mentors from six different departments and 4 different colleges. Faculty and graduate students will interact with REU students through individual research projects and group meetings, research seminars and field trips, oral and poster presentations, brown-bag student discussions, social and community activities, technical and professional training workshops, and online social media like blogs.

The broader impacts of this project are: 1) a larger number of students enrolled in, and retained by STEM disciplines, 2) an increase in the diversity of undergraduates who are well-positioned in the pipeline to graduate school in a STEM field, 3) the development of a research and mentoring community aware of ethical responsibilities and committed to innovative solutions for sustainable communities, 4) the sharing of the undergraduate research process and research through the internet (REU-TIER.net) and local,or national conferences, and 5) the direct support of 36 sophomore/junior level students and enhancements of the research programs of 14 faculty participants that could contribute to improvements in practices throughout the world that depend on the interface of water, energy, materials and humans.