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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Researchers from across the state meet to strategically plan for the implementation of the research initiatives of the MAPS NSF EPSCoR Track-1 Award

The MAPS Strategic Planning Team
     The Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems (MAPS) across Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 principal investigators and team leaders met on September 25-26, 2017 to outline a strategic plan for meeting the goals and objectives of the proposed research for the project.  Faculty from the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Fort Hays State University, Wichita State University and Haskell Indian Nations University collaborated to create a strategic approach to test hypotheses, collect and store data, identify outcomes and disseminate information through education and community outreach efforts. Two National Science Foundation program officers, Andy Ogram and Tim VanReken, joined the conversations to provide guidance and suggestions.  Laura Leff, from Kent State University, also attended as a member of the MAPS Science Advisory Committee sharing her expertise and insightful observations with the team. John Riordan, from Cindy Zook Associates, facilitated the process and discussions.
     The MAPS project will utilize fundamental microbiome research to determine how microbiomes, e.g., MAPS, can enhance productivity, mitigate environmental problems in agricultural-dominated landscapes, and conserve native grasslands and their ecosystem functions.  The steep precipitation gradient across the state and the importance of agriculture makes Kansas an outstanding outdoor laboratory for testing hypotheses related to the impacts of precipitation on microbial processes.  The project's study of the interconnected nature of the soil, plant, and aquatic microbiomes makes it unique and potentially transformative. MAPS includes education and outreach initiatives focusing on microbiome science that extends from K-12 students and teachers to undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members at tribal colleges and four year institutions, including a Haskell-based summer internship program (HERS).

Education, outreach, awards and meetings funding is provided by the Kansas NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 Award OIA-1656006 titled: Microbiomes of Aquatic, Plant, and Soil Systems (MAPS)  The awards educational objectives are designed to enhance 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 Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.