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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 11, 2010

UI receives $2.6 million for graduate student fellowships in geoinformatics

The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Iowa a $2.6 million grant for graduate student fellowships in an interdisciplinary program, Geoinformatics for Environmental and Energy Modeling and Prediction (GEEMaP).

As many as 30 Ph.D. students from a variety of fields will receive funding through the program, where they will learn to use advanced computational methods to address real-world problems in environmental science and energy production. GEEMaP students will earn a graduate certificate in geoinformatics.

The highly competitive grant was awarded through NSF's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program, which aims to produce Ph.D. scientists, engineers and educators from the United States who will pursue careers in research and education to become leaders and effect change.

"Investing in the students and providing them educational, research and hands-on opportunities is what this is all about," said Kate Cowles, UI associate professor of statistics in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and principal investigator for the grant.

"This grant will give students knowledge of quantitative and computational technologies and how they can be used in environmental and energy-related research. In addition to coursework, they will participate in interdisciplinary research, be placed in internships in government and industry, and consult with on-campus researchers."

Graduate students in six departments (biostatistics, civil and environmental engineering, computer science, geography, industrial engineering and statistics) from three colleges (Liberal Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Public Health) can apply to become GEEMaP students.

The GEEMaP program aims to recruit four to six new IGERT fellows each year of the five-year grant. Fellows must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. They will receive stipends, tuition and fees for two years of study.

All UI students enrolled in associated Ph.D. programs can apply to the GEEMaP program as IGERT associates. Both fellows and associates will have the opportunity to participate in basic and applied research opportunities in academia, the public sector and private industry.

Cowles, her fellow investigators Alberto Segre (computer science), Andrew Kusiak (industrial engineering), David Bennett (geography) and Kathleen Stewart (geography), and 12 additional senior personnel, secured the first IGERT grant to the UI. Each year, the NSF receives about 400 preliminary grant proposals before inviting 100 to submit full proposals. From there, about 20 IGERT awards are presented.

"Professor Cowles and her colleagues are to be congratulated for going through a rigorous application process to secure this grant that will give our students the skills in geoinformatics to become leaders of change," Graduate College Dean John Keller said. "The geoinformatics subtrack is an integral component in our Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Informatics."

UI Interim Vice President for Research Jordan Cohen also praised Cowles and her team: "Their collaborative approach to addressing pressing environmental problems directly impacting human health, safety and quality of life in Iowa and around the world makes this project an outstanding example of the type of interdisciplinary research and graduate training the University of Iowa is eager to foster."

The Graduate College began offering a certificate in geoinformatics earlier this year. The field develops new uses for information technology to address specific problems in geography, geosciences, urban and regional planning, and related branches of engineering. For more on the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Informatics and its subtracks, visit

For more information on the IGERT grant, e-mail Cowles at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Graduate College Office of External Relations, 205 Gilmore Hall, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: John Riehl, 319-384-1309,