Email Print Share

News Release 15-131

NSF announces new research traineeship awards

Research Traineeship program aims to foster bold, new models for graduate education

NSF logo

The NRT program addresses key issues in the scientific community.

October 19, 2015

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is pleased to announce 24 new awardees for the NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program, designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, potentially transformative models for graduate education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

"STEM graduate education is a critical component of maintaining and enhancing the science and engineering workforce that drives innovation for the U.S. economy," said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, NSF Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources. "The NRT program is part of our ongoing commitment to strengthening graduate education in ways that help prepare STEM professionals to maintain the cutting edge in U.S. research."

The NRT program addresses key issues in the scientific community, including educating and building the science and engineering workforce, broadening participation in STEM education to include traditionally underserved populations and creating new resources at institutions that train STEM graduate students.

The NRT program, launched in 2014, seeks to ensure that graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral programs develop the skills and knowledge to pursue a range of careers. NRT projects address interdisciplinary topics of national importance, and follow two tracks. Of the new awards, 11 follow the track of Traineeship, which seeks to train graduate students in high-priority, interdisciplinary research areas, including materials science, bioinformatics and ecology. Those awards total $29.7 million. Six of the 10 Traineeship awards support Data-Enabled Science and Engineering (DESE) research. Industry internships, citizen science engagement and interdisciplinary team projects are among the graduate education innovations incorporated into the new awards.

The principal investigators, institutions and titles for the new Traineeship awards are:

  • Raymundo Arroyave, Texas A&M University Main Campus: "Data-Enabled Discovery and Design of Energy Materials." (DESE)
  • Kenneth R. Carter, University of Massachusetts Amherst: "Soft Materials for Life Sciences."
  • Lorenzo Ciannelli, Oregon State University: "Risk and Uncertainty Quantification in Marine Science and Policy." (DESE)
  • Julie A. Dickerson, Iowa State University: "Predictive Phenomics of Plants." (DESE)
  • Vanessa Ezenwa, University of Georgia: "Interdisciplinary Disease Ecology Across Scales: from Byte to Benchtop to Biosphere." (DESE)
  • Claudia K. Gunsch, Duke University, North Carolina A&T State University, and Texas Southern University: "Integrative Bioinformatics for Investigating and Engineering Microbiomes."
  • Ayanna M. Howard, Georgia Tech Research Corporation, Emory University: "Accessibility, Rehabilitation and Movement Science: An Interdisciplinary Traineeship Program in Health-Centered Robotics.
  • Jeffrey F. Kelly, University of Oklahoma Norman Campus, University of Delaware and University of Nebraska: "Aeroecology as a Test-bed for Interdisciplinary STEM Training"
  • Naren Ramakrishnan, Virginia Tech: "UrbComp: Data Science for Modeling, Understanding, and Advancing Urban Populations." (DESE)
  • Tim Rogers, University of Wisconsin-Madison: "A Project-Focused Cross-Disciplinary Graduate Training Program for Data-Enabled Research in Human and Machine Learning and Teaching." (DESE)

The other 13 awards, which total $6.3 million, follow the second NRT track: Innovations in Graduate Education (IGE), which is dedicated to piloting new approaches to graduate education. The principal investigators, institutions and titles for the new IGE awards are:

  • Julie Coffield, University of Georgia:  "From Engagement to Action: 21st Century STEM Scholars and Land Grant Opportunities."
  • Adam Fontecchio, Drexel University: "Pedagogical Readiness Oversight for Future Educators in STEM Subjects (PROFESS)."
  • Allison Hayes-Conroy, Temple University: "Innovating Graduate STEM Education Through Bio-Social Partnerships."
  • Rosemary Joyce, University of California, Berkeley: "Training Graduate Students as Research Mentors for Undergraduates."
  • Michael Keller, University of Tulsa: "Workplace Inspired Approaches for Improving Graduate Student Professionalism."
  • Ingrid Lofgren, University of Rhode Island: "Science Writing and Rhetorical Training: A New Model for Developing Graduate Science Writers."
  • Susan Margulies, University of Pennsylvania: "Penn Pathfinders."
  • Debbie Niemeier, University of California, Davis: "Data Science for the Built Environment."
  • Deana Pennington, University of Texas El Paso: "Collaborative Research: Employing Model-Based Reasoning in Environmental Science (EMBeRS)."
  • Margaret Rubega, University of Connecticut: "Training STEM Graduates to Communicate in the Digital Age, and Measuring Whether It Works."
  • Kathryn Schreiner, University of Minnesota Duluth: "Flipping a Foundational Interdisciplinary Graduate Curriculum While Strengthening Connections Outside Academia."
  • Jack Schultz, University of Missouri Columbia: "A Test Bed for STEM Graduate Student Communication Training."
  • Srinivas Sridhar, Northeastern University: "Nanomedicine Academy of Minority Serving Institutions."

The next solicitation for NRT awards has been released. The Program Solicitation is NSF 16-503. Two new priority research areas are being introduced in the new solicitation under the Traineeship track. They are UtB: Understanding the Brain, and INFEWS: Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems. More information can be found at the NRT web page.


Media Contacts
Rob Margetta, NSF, (703) 292-2663, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

mail icon Get News Updates by Email 

Connect with us online
NSF website:
NSF News:
For News Media:
Awards database:

Follow us on social