Saturday, May 9, 2009

IRES Program Overview

Author: Dipesh Dey

University of South Florida (USF), Tampa, Florida, USA recently recieved a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to carry out its International Research Experience for Students (IRES) program, in collaboration with UNESCO-IHE, Institute of Water Education, Delft, The Netherlands. The objective is to exchange students between these two institutions working closely on developing sustainable clean water technologies to achieve United Nation's Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). The students are supposed to get exposure to a wider spectrum of environmental research techniques in the process.

Last summer (2008), some graduate students from UNESCO-IHE visited USF's Dept. of Civil & Env. Engineering for doing collaborative research. This year (i.e. Summer 2009), 3 graduate and 3 undergraduate students of USF were selected to go to Delft, NL, and are to work with 3 professors and their research teams at IHE. The students will stay in Delft for 10 weeks from May 19 to July 31, 2009. The activity does not come at any additional economic cost on the part of the students - return airline tickets have been purchased and students' accommodation at IHE have been paid for by the grant at USF. Additionally, adequate meal allowance and travelling/miscellaneous spending allowances are also being given to the students.

The professors at USF involved in the IRES program are: Dr. Daniel Yeh (Principal Investigator), Dr. Jeffrey Cunningham, and Dr. Maya Trotz (Dept. of Civil & Env. Eng.); Dr. Norma Alcantar (Dept. of Chemical & Biomedical Eng.) and Dr. Ricardo Izurieta (Dept. of Global Health). The participating professors at UNESCO-IHE, Institute of Water Education are: Dr. Gary Amy and Dr. Branislav Petrusevski (Dept. of Urban Water & Sanitation); and Dr. Piet Lens (Dept. of Environmental Resources).

Following are the details of the students, the area they will work on and their UNESCO-IHE mentors:

Wendy Mussoline (Ph.D. Student, Dept. of Global Health, USF; Principal Advisor: Dr. Ricardo Izurieta) & Robert Bair (B.S. Student, Env. Sci. & Policy, USF; Advisor: Dr. Daniel Yeh); UNESCO-IHE mentor: Dr. Piet Lens; Area of research at IHE: Anaerobic processes and bioreactors.

Dipesh Dey (Ph.D. Student, Dept. of Civil & Env. Eng., USF; Principal Advisor: Dr. Jeff Cunningham) & Michael Gerdjikian (B.S. student, Dept. of Civil & Env. Eng., USF; Advisor: Dr. Daniel Yeh); UNESCO-IHE mentor: Dr. Gary Amy; Area of Research at IHE: Contaminant fate and transport in soil aquifer treatment (SAT) and river bank filtration (RBF) processes; membrane bioreactors.

Duncan Peabody (M.S. student, Dept. of Civil & Env. Eng., USF; Principal Advisor: Dr. James Mihelcic) & Hong Ting (Sam) Chiu (B.S. student, Dept. of Civil & Env. Eng., USF; Advisor: Dr. Maya Trotz); UNESCO-IHE mentor: Dr. Branislav Petrusevski; Area of Research: Arsenic removal and effect of water quality parameters on competitive arsenic sorption.

The students and faculties at USF and UNESCO-IHE, Delft, appear excited about the trip and hope that it pays off in terms of valuable long-term research collaborations.

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