Welcome to the Kansas NSF EPSCoR (KNE) news and announcements blog. Stay up-to-date with all the happenings, discoveries, events and funding opportunities associated with KNE. Enter your email in the "Follow by email" box below and to the right to stay notified of new posts. Feel free to leave comments.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Climate and Energy Museum Exhibit Travels

Kansas NSF EPSCoR, with the help of Flint Hills Design (Newton), developed the first temporary museum exhibit for the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan. The Climate and Energy exhibit helped kick off the grand opening for the Discovery Center in 2012 and remained there until summer 2014. The unique exhibit was designed to easily travel to other spaces throughout the state when it's stay in Manhattan was complete.

It's next stop is the Kauffman Museum at Bethel College in Newton where it will occupy their temporary exhibit space. A plan is being developed to find several sites giving many audiences an opportunity to learn about the kinds of science being done in Kansas and its impact. Here are some pictures of the display in its new home.

Please stop into the Kauffman Museum if you are in the neighborhood and visit the exhibit before it travels onward. This blog will provide updates on future sites and its availability. If you are a facility interested in being a host, please contact nsfepscor@ku.edu.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kansas Researchers Talk About Water and What It Means for the State

There is no mistaking that water is important to Kansas farmers. Where it comes from, how it is used and regulated are on the minds of many, especially in the western, more agricultural part of the state. How farmers respond to the quality and availability of water and how it affects their crop and irrigation decisions was the focus of a unique symposium sponsored jointly by the Biofuels and Climate Change: Farmers' Land Use Decisions research team and the Kansas Natural Resource Council, which took place at the University of Kansas on September 26. The goal of the symposium was to disseminate the project's research findings to key stakeholders and policy-makers in the state.

Gene West farm, Kiowa County, Kansas (Photo by Larry Schwarm)
The symposium titled Kansas Waters: Research and Communication - From Data to News, drew an audience of about 50 stakeholders, mainly from the Kansas Water Office and other policy-making agencies, along with University of Kansas and Kansas State researchers.  The morning began with research presentations on water use including what motivates or impedes underlying irrigation decisions as well as cultural aspects with regard to farmers' attitudes and perspectives on water usage. Other topics included the role of water rights on conservation and how other restrictions affect usage. The research results demonstrate that Minimum Desirable Streamflow restrictions effectively reduce agricultural water use within the Lower Republic River basin.  More broadly, research results reveal that water rights constrain, but not fully, agricultural water use when considering the entire state of Kansas.  In the early afternoon, presentations focused on water quality: the impact of agricultural activities on surface water quality and how farmers perceive water quality.
The latter part of the afternoon included a workshop on how to communicate science and policy to different audiences such as the general public, the legislature, institutions and the media. A variety of stakeholders from these audiences spoke about their perspectives on the best ways to communicate the findings from the morning session.

The afternoon discussion drew a clear conclusion.  Legal restrictions on irrigation exist yet farmers in the Central Plains are quickly depleting groundwater aquifers and draining surface water.  Thus, a richer understanding of policy effectiveness is important.

Update: See a related story from September 27, 2014 in the Lawrence Journal World at http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2014/sep/27/ogallala-water-continues-pore-farm-fields-despite-/ .

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Upcoming Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas to be held in Manhattan

Registration for the Governor's Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas is now OPEN! Visit http://www.kwo.org/Ogallala/Governors_Conference/Governors_Conference.htm to register online.

The annual Governor’s Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas will be held November 12-13, 2014 at the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center in Manhattan, KS. This third year for the conference will highlight the latest policy and research development of water issues in Kansas. The conference brings together scientists, water managers, state and federal officials and legislators, city and county administrators, environmental organizations, irrigators and citizens who share an interest in Kansas water resources. A large focus will be sharing the outcomes of the past year to address the Governor's 2013 Call to Action to develop a long-term vision for our state's future water supply.

The agenda, keynote speakers, registration, lodging information and information about the student poster session can be found at the conference website: http://www.kwo.org/Ogallala/Governors_Conference/Governors_Conference.htm.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Going Green: KU students grow algae for biofuel, cleaner water

Kansas NSF EPSCoR funds biofuel research as part of its major initiative, Climate change and Energy, Basic Science, Impacts and Mitigation. One of the projects has been studying ways of using treated wastewater and top-down ecology to grow high-yield algae. Lead researcher, Belinda Sturm, associate professor of civil, environmental, and architectural engineering, continues her research as part of KU's Feedstock to Tailpipe Initiative.

She and her colleagues are working with a team of about 25 KU graduate and undergraduate engineering students to turn the tiny water-based plants into biofuel.

“We remove nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus that harm the environment and make a useful product,” Sturm said. “That’s the bottom line. We’re cleaning up wastewater and creating a biofuels feedstock.”

One of the goals of the KU project is to show how a city or county could grow its own algae to treat nutrient-rich wastewater. After the algae consume the nitrogen and phosphorus, the cleaner water can be returned to nature.

- See more at: http://features.ku.edu/article/going-green-ku-engineers-tap-tiny-algae-biofuel#sthash.n8MFsMqZ.dpuf

Monday, October 6, 2014

KNE Welcomes New Education, Outreach and Diversity Coordinator

Please join Kansas NSF EPSCoR in welcoming Rosemary Blum as its newest staff member. Beginning September 29, Rosemary accepted the position of Education, Outreach and Diversity Coordinator. Part of KNE's mission is to strengthen linkages between research and education and to increase diversity by enabling participation of women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities within its programs. She will be in charge of developing and running a variety of programs for EPSCoR in this capacity.

Rosemary comes to KNE from Houston, TX where she was the Instructional Math Coach and Math Curriculum Adviser for two high school Math Departments. Prior to that she served as the Assistant Dean of Students at Louisiana State University, the Director of Student Judicial Affairs at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and the Coordinator for Student Development working with Transitional Programs and Non- Traditional Student Services at Southern Illinois University. In addition to her university experience, she has taught a variety of math courses spanning 6th grade through high school for the Austin public school system in Texas and the LSU Lab School in Baton Rouge, LA. She has her bachelor's degree in Secondary Education: Mathematics from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in Higher Education: College Student Personnel from Southern Illinois University.

Her husband is a distinguished professor in the KU Geology Department and she has two sons. The oldest son attends law school at George Washington University in Washington DC, and the youngest son is a freshman playing basketball for Trinity University in San Antonio. Outside of work, Rosemary enjoys traveling, watching sports (especially basketball) and painting.

She can be contacted at rblum@ku.edu or 785-864-6120.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Request for Proposals: Kansas NSF EPSCoR Education & Diversity Grants

Kansas NSF EPSCoR has announced a request for proposals for Education & Diversity Grants.

Download and read the full RFP at http://goo.gl/q6kvT5.

Education & Diversity Grants are designed to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of climate or energy research or atomic/molecular/optical science. These awards are targeted to leverage the educational strengths of the universities in Kansas. An Education & Diversity Grant proposal may target any level of the student population; the general public; K-12 teachers; community or four-year college faculty; or employees in the Kansas workforce. The initiative may employ formal or informal educational methods. Priority will be given to proposals with a significant component that increases diversity by enabling participation in the EPSCoR project’s activities by women, minorities, persons with disabilities and members of other underrepresented groups (such as first generation college students or participants in geographically underserved locales).

Due to the importance of building on existing program strengths, only proposals related to climate or energy research or atomic/molecular/optical science will be considered. These areas are the focus of the current EPSCoR initiatives (see http://www.nsfepscor.ku.edu for more information).

Submission deadline: Monday, November 3, 2014