NSF grant aims to train research-based graduate students for various career paths

September 10, 2018

Dr. Sergio LenceA National Science Foundation (NSF) grant awarded to an interdisciplinary team led by an industrial engineering faculty member will combine elements of engineering with agriculture, economics and sociology to prepare research-based graduate students for an array of career paths.

Sarah Ryan, Joseph Walkup Professor in industrial engineering (IE), will serve as the Principal Investigator (PI) on a nearly $3 million grant awarded by NSF’s Division of Graduate Education. Ryan said this traineeship project will help to prepare research-based graduate students for a variety of career paths, including research scientists, bioeconomy entrepreneurs, agribusiness leaders, policy makers, agriculture analytics specialists and professors.

“The research theme is data-driven systems modeling and decision making to more efficiently produce food, transform primary energy sources into energy carriers, and enhance water quality. The interactions among these three efforts create opportunities to improve the design and operation of all three systems together,” Ryan said.

Through this project, the research team will train 48 M.S. and Ph.D. students, including 24 funded Ph.D. trainees, from agricultural and biosystems engineering (ABE), agronomy, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, and natural resource ecology and management.

The research team consists of four co-PIs, all of whom bring a different set of expertise: Robert C. Brown, distinguished professor and Gary and Donna Hoover Chair in Mechanical Engineering; Amy Kaleita, professor of ABE; Sergio Lence, professor of economics and Marlin Cole Chair of International Agricultural Economics; and Michelle Soupir, associate professor of ABE.

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