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CEREO Newsletter- 2015 April

Message from the Director

As global human demands for natural resources intensify in a rapidly changing environment, it is imperative to recognize that food, energy and water (FEW) resources form interconnected and interdependent systems.  Our actions in one resource domain often have profound direct and indirect consequences for the other two sectors, affecting the sustainability of the entire FEW system.  This three-way FEW nexus frames many of the issues faced by environmental researchers and managers seeking sustainable development approaches. We now recognize that there is a critical need to enhance understanding of the couplings within the FEW nexus and how they determine system responses both within and across resources.

The call for increased understanding of the FEW nexus has been broad – from discussions occurring at international and national scales such as NSF’s plan to invest $75 million in interdisciplinary FEW research, to regional scales such as those initiated by WSU’s 120-Day study.  In response, CEREO in conjunction with the State of Washington Water Research Center (SWWRC) and the Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources (CSANR) will be organizing a FEW workshop on May 13, 2015.  This one-day workshop is aimed at providing the WSU community with an interdisciplinary opportunity identify areas where our environmental researchers can have the greatest impact on FEW issues through focused breakout groups and small seed grant competitions.  More information on the workshop can be found in this month’s newsletter, and on our website.  We look forward to seeing you there.

– Stephanie

Research News

CEREO Seminar Highlights

Our 2015 Spring Seminar Series wrapped up this month with a diverse set of lectures spanning a multitude of water and other environmental issues.  Below are highlights from talks by  Drs. Todd Norton, John Petrie, Jan Boll and Jeffery Sanders.  The CEREO Seminar Series will begin again in the fall and if you would like to give a CEREO Seminar, or have a suggestion for who we should invite, please email Julie Padowski (

Dr. Todd Norton on communicating water quality risk

Dr. Todd Norton and his graduate students presented their work on better understanding the relationship between environmental knowledge and human behavior.  Focusing on pollution issues, Dr. Norton’s group discussed the complex array of physical, psychological and social variables that influence how people respond to information about contaminants in water.  This group found that communities often take different approaches to similar issues; therefore simply providing knowledge about a water quality issue doesn’t always elicit a change in attitude or behavior.  Rather, approaches for initiating change must incorporate the complex motivating factors of each individual community.  Dr. Norton is an associate professor with the WSU Murrow College of Communication and recent awardee of a 2014 CEREO Seed Grant. You can view his seminar here.

Dr. John Petrie on hydraulic geometry

Dr. John Petrie is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at WSU.  In his talk, Dr. Petrie discussed the impacts of human and environmental change on stream morphology and ecology and introduced hydraulic geometry, or regime equations, as a strategy for predicting alterations in channel form.  Useful for stream restoration, hydraulic geometry correlates stream channel characteristics to hydrologic properties, potentially reducing the need for extensive, labor-intensive field measurements. Dr. Petrie reviewed existing hydraulic geometry synthesis efforts and identified a suite of additional parameters and techniques that may improve stream characterization though hydraulic geometry principles.  You can view Dr. Petrie’s seminar here.

Dr. Jan Boll on interdisciplinary water resource education

Dr. Jan Boll is a professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and Director of the Environmental Science & Water Resources Program at the University of Idaho.  Dr. Boll’s seminar focused on the creation and evolution of the Waters of the West Program at University of Idaho, an interdisciplinary graduate program focused on integrated water resources management that bridges research and education with a strong outreach component.  Having developed and run the program for over 10 years, Dr. Boll was able to discuss the changes in culture and community that shaped the program, identifying those factors that both brought increased strengths and challenges to Waters of the West. You can view his seminar here.

Dr. Jeffery Sanders on environmental knowledge generation

Dr. Jeffery Sanders presented his on-going work exploring how post-World War II events shaped environmental attitudes in the American West.  Framing his analysis through parents’ concern for the well-being of their children, Dr. Sanders spoke in depth about the role that women’s participation in the workforce played in shaping the physical environment within which families were raised and how these events have influenced current community structure.  His talk also reflected on post-war apprehensions about children’s diet and health in the shadow of radioactive fallout from atomic bomb testing in the West, and how these concerns brought about a larger cultural shift in attitudes towards environmental health and in part, anti-war sentiments. Dr. Sanders is an associate professor in the Department of History at WSU. You can view his seminar here.

Other News

Software and Data Carpentry Workshops

CEREO is excited to offer two workshops aimed at providing basic programming training for graduate students, post-docs and faculty who want to learn to build, use, validate and share data using versatile open-source software such as R.

The Data Carpentry workshop is a two-day, hands-on workshop that teaches basic concepts, skills and tools for working more effectively with data. We will cover data organization in spreadsheets, data cleaning, SQL, and R for data analysis and visualization. Participants should bring their laptops and plan to participate actively. By the end of the workshop learners should be able to more effectively manage and analyze data and be able to apply the tools and approaches directly to their ongoing research.  This workshop will be held on the WSU Campus in Pullman on May 14-15, 2015.  Registration for the workshop is open to CEREO affiliates and can be completed here. Please contact us if you need assistance with travel to attend the workshop.

The two-day Software Carpentry workshop is designed to provide basic training for scientists who want to learn to build, use, validate and share data using versatile open-source software such as R.  This workshop will be held in Pullman on April 27-28, 2015.  Registration for this workshop is currently closed, however those interested can either join the Wait List, or consider attending the Data Carpentry workshop.

WSU Food-Energy-Water Nexus Workshop

In response to recent internal and external calls for FEW research, CEREO in conjunction with the State of Washington Water Research Center (SWWRC) and the Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources (CSANR) will be organizing a campus-wide FEW workshop on May 13, 2015 to identify and energize high-priority FEW research initiatives at WSU. The workshop will be followed by availability of seed grants and proposal planning grants.

This one-day workshop is aimed at providing the WSU community with an interdisciplinary opportunity identify areas where our environmental researchers can have the greatest impact on FEW issues. This workshop will help identify WSU’s research strengths in the context of  broader FEW issues and provide a unique opportunity for interested scientists and engineers to collaborate across traditional home disciplines. From this workshop, CEREO, SWWRC, CSANR, and other WSU leaders will be looking for promising research ideas to fund through internal seed or planning grants to help these groups get a head start on upcoming calls for FEW research.

For more information on the workshop and how to be involved, please visit our webpage.

WSU Earth Day Activities and Events

Thursday | April 23

Palouse Conservation District Tree Planting – a community service opportunity open to the public.  Those interested in participating should meet at Mary’s Park (1570 SE Johnson Ave, Pullman WA) for the 3-5pm event.

Friday | April 24

De-stress Yoga– UREC at 4pm

Climate Change Forum with keynote speaker Maria Talero | 7-9pm | Moscow 1912 Center
Maria is an experienced educator, researcher and facilitator advancing an innovative approach to climate change communication and leadership training.

Saturday | April 25

Climate Change Forum with keynote speaker Maria Talero | 7-9pm | Moscow 1912 Center
Maria is an experienced educator, researcher and facilitator advancing an innovative approach to climate change communication and leadership training.


EarthDayBuilding a Resilient Palouse



WSU CEREO Software Carpentry Workshop April 27-28, 2015

CEREO is hosting a Software Carpentry workshop in Pullman, WA.  Registration is currently closed.

WSU CEREO Data Carpentry Workshop– May 14-15, 2015

CEREO is also hosting a Data Carpentry workshop in Pullman, WA.  Register for the workshop here.

WSU Food-Energy-Water Workshop– May 13, 2015
CEREO, SWWRC and CSANR will be co-sponsoring a FEW workshop in Pullman, WA, followed by opportunities for seed grants and planning grants. More information is here.

6th Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference, Nov 4-5, 2015 in Coeur d’Alene, ID

The PNW Climate Science Conference annually brings together more than 250 researchers and practitioners from around the region to discuss scientific results, challenges, and solutions related to the impacts of climate on people, natural resources, and infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest.

Stay tuned for further details regarding abstract submission, registration, and program news. In the meantime, please contact John Abatzoglou ( with any questions about the conference.



Copernicus MastersClosing date June 13, 2015

The 2015 Earth Monitoring Competition is awarding prizes to innovative solutions for business and society based on Earth observation data.  In this year’s edition, prizes worth EUR 300,000 will be awarded in topic-specific challenges sponsored by a number of world-class partners, including: the European Space Agency (ESA), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), T-Systems International GmbH, Satellite Applications Catapult Ltd., Greece’s National Cadastre and Mapping Agency (NCMA), CloudEO AG, and European Space Imaging GmbH. In addition, the new University Challenge specifically addresses students and research assistants around the world

Water Resources Competitive Grants Program Applications due July 17, 2015

The purpose of this grant is to stimulate investigation and analysis that develops and effectively communicates reasoned and practical alternatives to select challenges facing the Nation’s water resources as well as alternatives to deal with these challenges.  Grant proposals may request up to $200,000 in federal funds, but proposals for lesser amounts are encouraged.


National Geographic Young Explorer Grants Applications accepted year-round

Young Explorer Grants (YEG) offer up to $5,000 to individuals ages 18 to 25 to pursue research, conservation, and exploration-related projects consistent with National Geographic’s existing grant programs.

EREF Graduate Scholarships in Solid Waste ResearchApplications due May 1, 2015

Scholarships are awarded by the Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) to recognize excellence in master’s, doctoral or post-doctoral waste management research and education.

2015 EPA Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) FellowshipsApplications due May 19, 2015

2015 EPA Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowships for Undergraduate Environmental Study.  Eligible students will receive support for their junior and senior years of undergraduate study and for an internship at an EPA facility during the summer of their junior year. The fellowship provides up to $20,700 per academic year of support and $8,600 of support for a three-month summer internship. 

Environmental Stewardship Scholarships Applications due May 22, 2015

Offered by the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association (PNCWA), this scholarship is available to full-time college students interested in pursuing a professional career (e.g., engineer, operator, lab analyst) in the water environment field.  Three to four scholarships, valued at $1,200-$1,500 each, will be awarded.

2015 EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowships for Graduate Environmental Study– Applications due May 26, 2015

Graduate Fellowships are open to master’s and doctoral level students in environmental fields of study. Subject to availability of funding and other applicable considerations, the Agency plans to award approximately 55 new fellowships in the Fall of 2015. Master’s level students may receive a maximum of two years of support ($88,000). Doctoral students may be supported for a maximum of three years ($132,000), usable over a period of five years.

2015 Science & SciLifeLab Prize– Applications due August 1, 2015

The Prize is awarded annually to one young scientist for outstanding life science research for which he/she was awarded a doctoral degree in the previous two years. The topic of the entrant’s thesis research must be in one of the following categories: Cell and Molecular Biology, Genomics and Proteomics, Ecology and Environment, Translational Medicine.


Environmental Soil Physics (SOIL 503)

This is a 3-credit course offered by Dr. Markus Flury next fall semester.  Classes will be held in Johnson Hall 204 (via WHETS) on the WSU Pullman campus.

Stable Isotope Theory and Methods (BIOL 540)

This is a 3-credit course offered by Dr. Dave Evans next Fall semester.  This course includes two lecture periods (T,R 10:30) and a lab section (T 1:35-4:00).

Course Description: Students will learn to design, interpret, and critically evaluate the use of stable isotopic tools in biological studies. Specifically, we will focus on efficiently learning terminology and notation, sources of variation, mathematical models of isotope composition, and key applications of stable isotope techniques. The laboratory section of the course will provide hands-on experience with stable isotope mass spectrometers to train you to run your own samples.  For information contact Dr. R. Dave Evans (5-7466;

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