Some ask me: “Where can someone go from the University of Idaho?”
My answer is simple – anywhere!
This is true for faculty and students alike.
For example, Rick Allen, a water resources engineering professor who works out of our Kimberly Research and Extension Center, was invited to speak in Rome to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.This reflects not only his unique expertise but also the rapid globalization nature of our world.
As he told an interviewer recently, “It’s in our interest to help these countries out. If we don’t intervene and offer to help, people will begin to resent us or no longer want to live in their own countries.”
There’s even more to the issue of water scarcity. U.S. government planners have identified this is a growing security concern because of the potential for conflicts over water resources.
Rick is Idaho’s leading researcher using NASA’s Landsat satellites and his work focuses on using satellite images to allow water users to determine how best to distribute available water. However, he notes that this is only part of the challenge. The lack of good governance, law and cooperation are prerequisites for the most effective use of scarce resources.
With the increasing scarcity of clean water, Rick’s expertise is a priceless commodity. However, he’s not alone. The complexity of water issues demands integrated, interdisciplinary solutions. One such program at your university is the Waters of the West.
Our students and faculty begin with the local Palouse Basin Aquifer and move to the vast Snake River Plain Aquifer to “develop methodologies to address the challenges inherent in sustaining our water resources,” said Jan Boll, Waters of the West program director and a professor of biological and agricultural engineering. “Once students develop a template for a workable interdisciplinary approach, they will take on projects of broader regional and national scale.”
This learning has immediate applicability across the globe, because we’ve been dealing with the rapidly increasing demands on Western water resources by seven of the 10 fastest growing cities nationwide. Idaho itself is one of the fastest growing states in the nation with a 50-percent population increase expected in the next 25 years.
Further, we don’t stop with the science alone. We address policy, law and governance issues. This expertise is also vitally important.
“The interdisciplinary nature of the program forces students to look at issues in a different way than they ever have before,” said Barbara Cosens, professor of law and a leader within the Waters of the West program. “Interdisciplinary work builds understanding and respect and abilities to communicate across areas of specialized expertise. Such skills allow our graduates to help communities resolve water resource issues.”
So where do Vandals go from here? Practically anywhere they want to go, and they can expect to make a difference when they get there.
The next time you have a drink of clean water, water your lawn, or enjoy water recreation, think of us and the difference we’re making worldwide.
M. Duane Nellis
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Daniel and Leah Frye, both ’79 and of Portland, Ore., have made a $25,000 gift to establish the Daniel and Leah Frye Chemistry and Physics Scholarship Endowment in the College of Science. “Our hope is that the scholarship will promote diversity and help underrepresented minorities attain the excellent education in the sciences at the University of Idaho that we did,” said the Fryes. He earned his bachelor's degree in physics and she earned her bachelor's degree in chemistry here. They both then earned doctoral degrees at The Johns Hopkins University. Dan works for IBM, where he is vice president for open systems development. He was inducted into U-Idaho’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 2010 and the College of Science’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 2011. Leah is employed by Schrodinger – a leader in computational chemistry that provides software solutions and services for life scienc
es and materials research – as vice president of the drug discovery group. For more information about giving to the College of Science, please contact Eric Bennett at (208) 885-9106 or email@example.com.