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Two U of I Faculty Members Receive National Recognition for Research

March 12, 2019

MOSCOW, Idaho — March 12, 2019 — Two University of Idaho assistant professors have earned national Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Elizabeth Cassel and Michael Strickland will receive a combined $1.38 million in funding for their projects through the prestigious NSF CAREER program, meant to fund the research and education activities of early career faculty.

Cassel, assistant professor of geology in the College of Science, will use her $729,932, five-year award to develop a new method for more accurately measuring the timing and magnitude of elevation and terrain changes in the North American Cordillera, which spans the mountains and plateaus of the continent’s entire Rocky Mountain range to the mountainous regions along North America’s West Coast.

Cassel’s method will combine several geochemical and dating techniques with a specially developed global climate model to test current hypotheses on the timing, progression, and drivers of upward and downward elevation changes in the North American Cordillera.

She will also work through U of I’s federally funded Upward Bound program to recruit low-income and underrepresented high school students as lab interns with the intention of fostering their interest in STEM-related fields.

“Elizabeth has done an exceptional job establishing herself as a leader in research and education,” said Ginger E. Carney, dean in the U of I College of Science. “Her work will bring important new insights behind the formation of North America’s topography while inspiring students to work and study in STEM-related fields.”

Strickland, assistant professor in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences' Department of Soil and Water Systems, will use his award to determine the effects agricultural antibiotics have on soil food webs and the ecosystem.

The $651,698 award will span five years and support Strickland’s research of the variation in antibiotic resistance across different soil types, antibiotic effects on soil food webs, and the interaction between antibiotic resistance and global change.

Strickland will develop training for U of I graduate students under the project, then visit middle schools in Moscow and Salmon, where students will explore soil health and actively participate in soil sample collection.

“Soil health is an absolutely critical part of ensuring that agriculture remains productive and sustainable,” said Michael Parrella, dean in U of I’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “Michael Strickland’s work will help Idaho producers and others worldwide maintain a safe, healthy and abundant food supply.”

NSF CAREER awards fund the research and education activities of early career faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

“For the University of Idaho to receive two CAREER awards in the same year is a remarkable achievement,” said Janet E. Nelson, U of I vice president for research and economic development. “Elizabeth Cassel and Michael Strickland are emerging national leaders in their fields, and this national recognition affirms our ongoing investment in world-class research.”

Cassel’s project, “The Fall of Mountains: Reconstructing Extensional Collapse in the North American Cordillera from the Surface Record,” is funded under National Science Foundation grant No. 1848563. The total anticipated amount of federal funds for the project is $729,932, which amounts to 100 percent of the total cost of the project.

Strickland’s project, “Ecosystem Processes in the Age of Antibiotics,” was funded under National Science Foundation grant No. 1845417. The total anticipated amount of federal funds for the project is $651,698, which amounts to 100 percent of the total cost of the project.

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About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at