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Integrative Graduate Education and Research Trainee Program (IGERT)


The Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, initiated in 1997 and now comprising approximately 100 award sites, continues into its sixth annual competition. The IGERT program has been developed to meet the challenges of educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists, engineers, and educators with the interdisciplinary backgrounds, deep knowledge in chosen disciplines, and technical, professional, and personal skills to become in their own careers the leaders and creative agents for change. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education, for students, faculty, and institutions, by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. It is also intended to facilitate greater diversity in student participation and preparation, and to contribute to the development of a diverse, globally-engaged science and engineering workforce.

IGERT is an NSF-wide endeavor involving the Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO), Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), Education and Human Resources (EHR), Engineering (ENG), Geosciences (GEO), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), the Office of Polar Programs (OPP), and the Office of International Science and Engineering (INT).

IGERT is a flagship NSF program addressing needs of the future through the People and Ideas Outcome Goals.

IGERT is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education for students, faculty, and institutions with

  • Emerging interdisciplinary theme that integrates education and research
  • Innovative models for graduate education and training
  • Funding for U.S. graduate student stipends and project education costs





  • Prepares students for the challenges of 21st century careers
    • Provides boundary-crossing experiences for students
    • Hones professional and personal skills – communication, teamwork, teaching, ethics, leadership
    • Facilitates career development – internships, international perspectives
  • Encourage collaboration among faculty and a more supportive environment for students.
  • Addresses diversity issues through recruitment and mentoring






Panels are held at the pre-proposal and full proposal stage.

Panel Number of Panelists


Ethnicity IGERT PI/Co-PI
HSE1 14 6 8 9 5 0
HSE2 12 6 6 11 1 0
LSE1 18 12 6 16 3 1
CSE1 17 15 2 17 0 0
CSE2 14 10 4 14 0 1
ESE1 11 6 5 10 1 0
ESE2 9 4 5 7 2 2
ESE3 11 8 3 11 0 1
MSE1 14 9 5 12 2 2
MSE2 10 8 2 9 1 2
PSE1 14 9 5 12 2 3
PSE2 10 5 5 8 2 3
Totals 166 105 61 147 20 16
% Females     37%      
% UR Groups         12%  
IGERT PI           10%


Grant Number: 9972803 (Mary Anne Carroll/University of Michigan)

Nugget: - | High Risk: - | Multi-disciplinary: - | Innovative: -

This Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) award supports the establishment of a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional graduate training program of education and research in Biospheric-Atmospheric Research Training (BART) at the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS), in collaboration with eleven other universities. The purpose of this program is to provide doctoral students with enhanced multidisciplinary training in the skills required for conducting research at the interface of the biospheric and atmospheric sciences. The over-arching research theme is to improve the understanding of the interactions and feedbacks that occur between biospheric and atmospheric properties and processes. BART builds on the unique collection of scientists, research projects and academic programs that exist at UMBS. BART training will commence with a novel 10-week residential research experience. Students will conduct research using state-of-the-art equipment and facilities for conducting research on atmospheric composition, atmospheric flux measurements, and ecosystem dynamics. Each student will have two co-mentors for his/her doctoral career: an atmospheric scientist and a biospheric scientist. In addition to the residential research experience, students will receive continuing multidisciplinary training including: biannual workshops, and activities supported through Internet discussion groups, and the BART web site.


Grant Number: 9870713 (James Staley/University of Washington)

Nugget: - | High Risk: - | Multi-disciplinary: - | Innovative: -

This Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) award will support the establishment of a broadly- based graduate training program in study of life in extreme environments and on its relevance to understanding the evolution of life on earth and, potentially, on other planets. Recent scientific results have highlighted the practical and theoretical importance of studying microbes that prosper in unusual habitats, including those whose temperature and chemical composition may well duplicate the conditions thought to exist at the time life evolved on earth. These results have also pointed to the utility of such studies in planning and evaluating efforts aimed at detecting environments on other planets that might also foster the evolution of life. This later aspect of the program is now often referred to as "Astrobiology". The multidisciplinary program will be the joint effort of 14 faculty from the Departments of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Astronomy, Atmospheric Sciences, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Genetics, Geological Sciences, Geophysics, Microbiology and Oceanography, as well as internship mentors in the private and public sector. NSF support will provide stipends for 11 graduate students each year, and for related costs of student research training. Students will take at least three of five new courses to be created for the IGERT program, and must complete existing coursework requirements of their home departments. Required coursework will emphasize current knowledge of the evolution of life from prebiotic synthesis through development of Eukaryotic cells, and the physical and chemical principles of planetary formation. Along with participating faculty, students will participate in a weekly IGERT seminar and an annual workshop at a field site or laboratory that will focus on methods and techniques not available on campus. Project website.


Grant Number: 9972810 (Amelia K. Ward/University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa)

Nugget: - | High Risk: - | Multi-disciplinary: - | Innovative: -

This Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) award supports the establishment of an multidisciplinary, interregional graduate training program of education and research at the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa and the University of New Mexico. The program will provide opportunities for students to study attributes of aquatic ecosystems in separate geographical regions that are at similar latitudes, but that have very different climatic conditions. These ecosystems both exemplify and magnify the pressing need for interdisciplinary collaborations in the context of contemporary problems confronting fresh waters worldwide. Faculty at both institutions have parallel interests in key disciplines of freshwater ecology, hydrology, and geochemistry that are essential for effective understanding and management of aquatic ecosystems. The new education/training program will include novel components that strengthen student disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and practical problem-solving expertise as well as ensure responsible science conduct, team-building and communication skills through inter-institutional education, and inter-site comparative projects. Internships with state/federal agencies such as the Bosque Improvement Group in New Mexico and the South Florida Water Management District will provide opportunities for students to apply fundamental research to practical problem-solving. The training program also is deeply committed to participation of a truly diverse student group that includes students from locally large populations of underrepresented minorities such as Hispanic, African-American, and Native American students. We envision developing graduate education that is genuinely multidisciplinary, inter-institutional, comparative across regions, and that links fundamental science with applications. Project website.


Grant Number: 9972759 (Susan L. Brantley/Penn State University)

Nugget: - | High Risk: - | Multi-disciplinary: - | Innovative: -

This Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) award supports establishment of a multidisciplinary graduate training program at Penn State University in biogeochemical research and education. Microorganisms control the earth's environment through an astonishing array of chemical processes. The presence of atmospheric O2, the acidification of mine-waste waters, and element cycling in soils and sediments are all products of these tiny chemical reactors. Yet, geochemists often ignore biotic processes in the environment because of ignorance of biological systems. Possibly more than 99% of microbes on earth remain uncharacterized, perhaps because microbiologists often use geochemically unrealistic culturing media. Unfortunately, few scientists are prepared to address biogeochemical questions due to cross-disciplinary differences in vocabulary, technique and scientific paradigm. Thus biologists, geochemists and engineers each bring a narrow view to the study of environmental systems even though new techniques create great opportunities for advancement. Superbly endowed with analytical and biological facilities, Penn State will address this problem by hosting a program that includes interdisciplinary graduate-student teams for research and cross-disciplinary course instruction, a Research Colloquium and student "charge cards" for access to analytical services. Students will work within a team with advisors from two disciplines and will continue with funded biogeochemical research following IGERT support. With the time and resources provided by IGERT, approximately 31 young scientists will employ modern analytical geochemistry and biogeochemistry to explore the interdisciplinary frontier. Project website.

Grant Number: 0114400 (Mark E. Hay/Georgia Tech)

Nugget: - | High Risk: - | Multi-disciplinary: - | Innovative: -

The importance of chemical and hydromechanical signaling is broadly recognized but inadequately studied. In marine and freshwater systems, chemical signals affect critical processes such as feeding, competition, mate recognition, habitat choice, host-symbiont and host-pathogen interactions. These chemical signals not only directly affect organisms but also produce a cascade of indirect effects on population structure, community organization, and ecosystem function. Numerous investigations indicate that chemical signals mediate many of these ecological interactions in aquatic systems, but exceedingly few investigations have coupled aquatic chemical ecology with microbiology, sensory biology, physiology, or an understanding of the fluid dynamics that mediate the transmission and reception of signals. Few scientists have the requisite breadth and cross-disciplinary training in ecology, chemistry, sensory biology, microbiology, physiology and small-scale hydrodynamics necessary to advance the field of chemical signaling in aquatic systems. The recent NSF workshop on challenges and opportunities in biological oceanography (OEUVRE) identified a mechanistic understanding of these small-scale chemically and physically mediated processes as a major challenge facing this diverse field. Georgia Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Skidaway and Scripps Institutions of Oceanography, is uniquely positioned to train students to meet these challenges. Under this IGERT program, graduate training at Georgia Tech will consist of a unique series of integrated core courses, an intensive, hands-on class in aquatic signaling where interdisciplinary student teams will experimentally investigate projects of their own design, intemships, and mentoring by a multidisciplinary graduate committee. Seminars will be conducted on biological, chemical and physical interactions affecting aquatic signaling, scientific ethics, special issues faced by under-represented groups and women in science, and the practical aspects of professional development in science and engineering. During the project, IGERT funds will support over 40 graduate students, produce about 26 PhDs, and start a permanent center for aquatic signaling at Georgia Tech.


Grant Number: 0221658 (Louis A. Derry/Cornell University)

Nugget: - | High Risk: - | Multi-disciplinary: - | Innovative: -

This IGERT project is an integrated program of education and research in the area of Biogeochemistry and Environmental Biocomplexity. Conceptual, technical, and computational developments are driving a major convergence among the biological, earth, and physical sciences. Over the next several decades, this disciplinary convergence will transform understanding of basic processes that control the stability and sustainability of natural environments. These insights will have extraordinary implications for the ability to predict and manage the effects of modern human activities on the structure and function of ecosystems across local, regional, and global scales. Such new knowledge is critical in planning for a safe, sustainable, and prosperous future. The IGERT project goals are to create an environment where researchers from ecology and evolutionary biology, biogeochemistry, environmental engineering, hydrology, environmental microbiology, and materials science come together to create novel interdisciplinary approaches to major questions in environmental science, and to train the next generation of leaders in this new interdisciplinary science. Emphasis will be on intellectual diversity and non-traditional pedagogies in training students across disciplinary boundaries, while deliberately enhancing connections with international and non-university partners. Workshop and seminar style learning will be employed, as well as active involvement of students in the management and implementation of the program. The intellectual foci will be the interaction of biological and physico-chemical controls on the cycling of metals and nutrients, especially terrestrial nitrogen; the role of microbiological processes in mediating biogeochemical cycling; and the effects of variation in genotype and phenotype on ecosystem functioning. Ultimately, the program will consider how complex behavior arises from the interaction of individually simple relationships in natural and managed ecosystems. Cornell University has outstanding resources in individual disciplines, and the IGERT program offers a unique opportunity to bring together many of these individual efforts into an integrated whole. Project website.


Grant Number: 0114427 (Martin R. Fisk/Oregon State University)

Nugget: - | High Risk: - | Multi-disciplinary: - | Innovative: -

PEOPLE: The biosphere is usually thought of as plants and animals near the Earth's surface, but the Earth's habitable zone extends to depths of hundreds or thousands of meters. The Earth's subsurface biosphere is composed mostly of bacteria, and collectively these bacteria may have a mass equivalent to that of all life in the near-surface biosphere. The emerging study of the subsurface biosphere could solve major environmental, agricultural, and industrial problems, and lead to products that will improve human health and prosperity. The key to success in this field will be an understanding of the links between subsurface microbiology and the Earth's physical and chemical environments and processes. This understanding is applicable to the transformation of toxic waste into harmless byproducts, safer drinking water, increased mining efficiency, increased flow of oil from wells, confining nuclear waste in storage facilities, improving soil and crops, reutilization of animal and human wastes, and the basics the Earth's global and local chemical cycles. To prepare graduate students for these challenges we will coordinate the training of students by internationally recognized engineers, microbiologists, geologists, oceanographers, geochemists, soil scientists, and hydrologists. Students' preparation will be broadened with a new subsurface biosphere integrated minor with five related components. Some of these are: a group training effort, courses that link microbial with physical and chemical processes from molecular to global scales, and international and national internships, field programs, and symposia. Ethical and cultural issues related to subsurface science, bioengineering, and the environment will be included in courses, seminars and workshops.

Fisk Review package (PDF file)


Grant Number: 0221041 (Lorenzo M. Polvani/Columbia University)

Nugget: - | High Risk: - | Multi-disciplinary: - | Innovative: -

PEOPLE: Columbia University is establishing a new, multi-departmental graduate program in Applied Mathematics and the Earth & Environmental Sciences. The aim of this new IGERT Joint Program is to train a new generation of scientists whose level of mathematical sophistication will be considerably higher than that of typical students currently graduating from earth and environmental science programs and, at the same time, whose familiarity with the important issues and major open research questions in the earth and environmental sciences will be much deeper that what is usually expected of students trained uniquely within applied mathematics departments. To achieve this goal, five departments at Columbia - Mathematics, Statistics, Applied Physics & Applied Mathematics, Earth & Environmental Sciences, and Earth & Environmental Engineering - under the coordinating role of the Columbia Earth Institute, will collaboratively train graduate students under this new IGERT Joint Program. While students in the IGERT Joint Program will be individually admitted by each department, their progress will be monitored by a Steering Committee of faculty associated with the Joint Program. In addition to satisfying the requirements of the departments into which they are admitted, all students in the Joint Program will take a new integrated two-semester sequence in Applied Mathematics specifically tailored to issues and problems in the global environmental sciences, and will be expected to earn a minimum number of credits in both mathematical and earth science courses. In addition, they will be expected to attend a weekly colloquium organized by the Joint Program, give a formal presentation of their research results once a year to the faculty and other students affiliated with the Joint Program, attend special series of invited lectures, assist in the mentoring of undergraduates, and complete a one summer internship during their graduate training at a research institution, national laboratory, or industrial research center.

Polvani review package


Grant Number: 9987607 (James W. White/University of Colorado at Boulder)

Nugget: - | High Risk: - | Multi-disciplinary: - | Innovative: -

PEOPLE: This Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) award supports the establishment of a multidisciplinary graduate training program of education and research on the carbon cycle and climate change. We will construct and test a highly interdisciplinary educational structure designed to better train graduate students interested in human interactions with the environment. As humans have been far more adept at causing environmental change than at understanding the impacts of those changes, we in the education arena need to quickly adapt and change how we train students, particularly graduate students, in how to effectively address and solve environmental problems. Our current disciplinary-based graduate educational structure does not effectively meet that need. Students are not learning how to cross disciplinary boundaries, particularly across the social and natural sciences, and how to work effectively in teams. Neither are they taught how to effectively communicate with the press and the public in order to make their research findings more broadly known and accepted. Thus, our proposed program merges students from natural sciences, social sciences and journalism into cohorts that will focus on carbon and climate issues. We combine formal coursework with research internships and a team based approach to problem solving in an attempt to explore new mechanisms of graduate education in environmental issues.

White review package (PDF file)


Number of Proposal Actions
Very limited information is available through EIS for IGERT for GEO. Only full proposal award information is available.


    • FY00: 2
    • FY01: 7
    • FY02: 8

For the IGERT Program as a whole, the following table is applicable:

FY00 FY01 FY02
Awards 19 22 21
Declines 286  278 235
Continuing 57 79 100
Closures 0 0 0

Award Size and Duration
No information is available through EIS for IGERT Award Size and Duration.

Dwell Time
No information is available through EIS for IGERT proposal Dwell Time.

Funding Rate
No information is available through EIS for IGERT Funding Rates.


NSF (and GEO) traditionally supports graduate education through three main mechanisms:

    • Research Assistantships to the PI's on individual, collaborative and cross-agency initiative awards
    • the Graduate Research Fellowship program
    • the IGERT Program

    Longitudinal studies of the comparative effectivness of these programs for different NSF goals and objectives are lacking.

    Additional review packages (PDF files):

    IGERT Raw Data (Excel file)

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