University Receives Grant for Water Resources Education

Thursday, September 5 2013

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho will take the lead in training the West’s next generation of international water resources management professionals with support from a grant from the National Science Foundation.

The $3.1 million, five-year award from the foundation’s highly competitive Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program, or IGERT, will allow the university to further strengthen its interdisciplinary water resources degree program, involve faculty from numerous colleges in water resources education and research, and provide financial support for 24 doctoral students.

The grant is the latest piece in the university’s expansion of water resources programs in recent years. The university introduced the water resources graduate program and Waters of the West, its research and outreach arm, in 2006.

"This grant provides an exciting opportunity to build on integrated research and education developed through the Waters of the West initiative,” said Jan Boll, director of the university’s environmental science and water resources program and the grant’s principle investigator. “Getting here was a tremendous team effort that will continue as we go forward.”

The grant focuses in particular on the Columbia River system’s headwaters in Idaho and Canada, which include the Snake, Clearwater, Spokane/Coeur d’Alene, Salmon and Kootenai rivers – placing the university at an ideal location for this research. 

In addition to working with water-resource entities in Idaho, IGERT students will participate in research with partner universities including the University of British Columbia in Canada and the University of Concepción and the Catholic University in Chile. 

This will equip UI water resources graduate students with the interdisciplinary knowledge they need to step into management roles for the Columbia and beyond, said John Tracy, director of UI’s Idaho Water Resources Research Institute. The program folds the study of legal, political and social aspects of water resources together with physical sciences.

“There’s been recognition that the type of professional we need to aid in managing Idaho’s water resources has to be able to work in an interdisciplinary environment,” Tracy said. “There are very few programs that can produce graduate students who can think in these terms.”

Barbara Cosens, a law professor and water resources faculty member, said the grant will add to the water resources program’s existing broad and innovative structure.

“The award is both an indication of how much we have learned about the delivery of interdisciplinary education and an opportunity to take it to a new level to train those who will lead us in solving our future water challenges,” she said.

Jack McIver, vice president for research and economic development at UI, said the grant marks UI as a leader in water resources education.

“This award represents a return on the investment the University of Idaho has made into robust water-related learning and research opportunities,” McIver said. “It will allow us to deliver a world-class education to new graduate students and strengthen our water resources program as a whole.”

UI has received two previous IGERT awards, both for a program focusing on landscape resilience in partnership with a university in Costa Rica.

To learn more about UI’s water resources program, visit


Media Contact: Tara Roberts, University Communications, (208) 885-7725,

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit