Nevada, Idaho and New Mexico Receive National Science Foundation Award to Study Water and Ecosystem Services to Communities

jackman watershed-thbLas Vegas, Nevada –The Nevada System of Higher Education has been awarded $2 million by the National Science Foundation over a period of three years for the Research Infrastructure Improvement award.  This project is funded through NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR); whose mission is to assist NSF to strengthen research and education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

“Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico will create a Western Consortium for Watershed Analysis, Visualization, and Exploration (WC-WAVE) whose overarching goal is to advance watershed science, workforce development and education with cyberinfrastructure enabled discovery and innovation,” said Dr. Gayle Dana, Nevada NSF EPSCoR Project Director. “ WC-WAVE Cyberinfrastructure will enable researchers to create better models to understand the processes that govern a large proportion of water and ecosystem services to communities. Nevada is very excited to be continuing what has become a very fruitful collaboration with Idaho and New Mexico.”

The NSF Research Infrastructure Improvement award supports physical, human, and cyber infrastructure improvements in challenging research areas that impact each state’s economy. Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico combined will receive up to $6 million over a three year period to focus on world-class research infrastructure and interoperability in Watershed Science, Visualization and Data Cyberinfrastructure, and Workforce Development and Education.

Mountain watersheds provide a large proportion of water and ecosystem services to communities in the intermountain west. Climate change impacts affect the ability of watersheds to provide water storage, flow moderation and water improvement. The link between precipitation, vegetation growth, fire regime, soil moisture, runoff and similar landscape properties create systems in which even subtle changes in climate may lead to significant environmental and economic impacts for the state.

Through this collaboration researchers from the Western Consortium will work together to address three associated goals:

  1. Watershed Science: Advance understanding of hydrologic interactions and their impact on ecosystems using a virtual watershed framework. Scientists and students will be able to run watershed models and provide feedback on the evolving Cyberinfrastructure platform.
  2. Visualization and Data Cyberinfrastructure: Accelerate collaboration and interdisciplinary watershed research through innovative visualization environments. This advancement will provide a user-friendly virtual watershed platform that supports analysis, modeling, and visualization activities for interoperability.
  3. Workforce Development and Education: Engage faculty and graduate students in interdisciplinary team-based watershed research and broaden student participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Support graduate workforce development through a series of institutes and research activities that provide interdisciplinary training and workforce preparation.

Integrating creative observation and analytical strategies through advanced modeling and cyberinfrastructure in a virtual watershed frame will allow researchers to understand and predict complex climate and hydrologic change. “We at DRI are eager to leverage our immersive virtual reality laboratory to support human exploration of the complex, dynamic processes responsible for natural watersheds.  By modeling alternative scenarios, we intend to gain insight into threats to our natural resources, particularly from climate change, natural disasters and human impact,” explained Dr. Thomas Jackman, Interim Senior Director, Center for Advanced Visualization, Computation and Modeling at the Desert Research Institute.

The project will also focus on developing Workforce Development and Education programs to prepare students for future employment in STEM fields, and promote professional development of undergraduate faculty.

“This grant from the National Science Foundation will not only have an immediate impact on our research infrastructure, it will have a long-lasting influence on Nevada,” said Dan Klaich, Chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. “Programs like these not only increase our environmental research capacity and reputation, they improve the connections between education and entrepreneurship while expanding opportunities for NSHE students.”


About The Nevada System of Higher Education: The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) is comprised of two doctoral-granting universities, a state college, four comprehensive community colleges and one environmental research institute. NSHE, governed by the Nevada Board of Regents, serves the educational and job training needs of Nevada, the 15th fastest growing state in the nation, and provides educational opportunities to more than 105,000 students.  For more information regarding NSHE please visit:
About the Nevada Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR): The goal of Nevada EPSCoR is to support collaborative research partnerships between higher education institutions and private industries to create long-term improvements in scientific research and infrastructures, strengthening our research and development capacity in Nevada and at a national level.  Nevada EPSCoR programs enhance graduate education, stimulate undergraduate student research, and promote the involvement of women and underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. For more information on Nevada EPSCoR please visit:

Media Contact: 
Martha Aleida Delgado
Nevada System of Higher Education


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