The new University of Maryland Global STEWARDS Training Program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), welcomed its inaugural cohort of doctoral students in December. Twelve Global STEWARDS from five University of Maryland (UMD) schools and colleges (the University of Maryland School of Public Health, the School of Public Policy, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences and the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences) will come together this year through interdisciplinary training and research opportunities aimed at creating innovative and sustainable solutions that ensure food, energy and water (FEW) security for future generations.
UMD Global STEWARDS will be exposed to a range of topics in three integrated FEW research areas: 1) Agricultural resilience through energy-efficient water reuse; 2) Food safety and security in variable climate scenarios; and 3) Decision support systems to advance food-energy-water adaptation strategies.
The selected students bring expertise in diverse disciplines from atmospheric science to hydrology to public health, and much more. These experts will come together to pursue cross-cutting, transformative science and policy discoveries to address the daunting challenges of climate change. These include dwindling safe water supplies, more frequent extreme weather events and the need to safely produce more food for an expanding population, to name a few.
“I jumped at the chance to apply to the Global STEWARDS program because the nexus of food, energy and water is an emerging and mission critical area of science,” said Mr. Richard Remigio, a School of Public Health doctoral student studying the impact of climate change on the health of dialysis patients. “The missing piece has been the integration of the public health component. I am excited to learn from others in the cohort, but am excited to apply my epidemiological skills and to create study designs that will help us to measure and understand risk and opportunities and look at the impact of solutions on health.”
Mr. Remigio, who worked previously as an environmental engineer for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) focusing on national water quality issues, recently returned from a trip to Israel. He traveled as part of the team working for the CONSERVE Center of Excellence who is partnering with researchers at the Arava Institute on water reuse research that can advance agriculture and protect public health.
Mr. Manashi Paul, a doctoral student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, is a computational hydrologist who worked on water resource management issues in her home country of Bangladesh. She is excited to harness the collective expertise of the Global STEWARDS cohort in support of solving big problems. “I realized that while I have a science background, I also have to think about the farmers and the economics and the social aspect of how people accept recycled water,” Ms. Paul said. “I think the Global STEWARDS training program is a very good opportunity to work with public health experts, computer scientists, policymakers, farmers, and others to address the big picture together. That is why I applied. I am eager to see how we can we share our information and make it a whole picture – to make it work in the real world.”
The UMD Global STEWARDS program consists of five interdisciplinary elements, including experiential coursework; intensive, annual, two-week professional development workshops; a local internship based in a non-academic setting; a summer trip to work with partner organizations in Israel or Nepal; and involvement in food, energy and water-related outreach, education and mentoring. To enhance the mentoring and leadership skills of UMD Global STEWARDs, trainees will be paired with undergraduate student mentees, with the goal of expanding the pipeline of STEM researchers from underrepresented backgrounds.
“Working with these talented graduate students and hearing their out-of-the-box ideas, it is clear to see that they will be our change-makers for the future,” said UMD School of Public Health professor, Dr. Amy Sapkota, who is the director of the Global STEWARDS program.
The new UMD Global STEWARDS from the School of Public Health and their advisors are:
Mr. Suraj Panthi
Advisor: Dr. Amir Sapkota
Mr. Richard Remigio
Advisor: Dr. Amir Sapkota
Full list of selected doctoral students