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Climate Change in Indigenous Communities

Project PI: Joane Nagel, Sociology, University of Kansas
                   Dan Wildcat, Director, Haskell Environmental Research Studies

Climate change is altering the landscapes of many Native communities, a problem exacerbated by the under-representation of Native Americans in the sciences. In Kansas, there is a unique opportunity to offer research experiences at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS to undergraduate Native American students from many parts of the country.

HERS Interns and IGERT Trainees study the climate and geohistory of southwestern Kansas.

Kansas NSF EPSCoR is partnering with the Haskell Environmental Research Studies (HERS) Institute, to offer a 10-week paid summer internship program, Workforce Development and Climate Change in Indigenous Communities, for Native American students. A successful pilot program took place during the summer of 2009 as part of the initiative on Understanding and Forecasting Ecological Change.

Andrew Johnson, HERS Intern, in KU’s Stable Isotope Lab.

The HERS Institute offered the internships to ten students, who spent six weeks on the Haskell campus, learning about climate change and developing individual research projects. For the remaining four weeks, they collaborated on their research with PhD students taking part in the IGERT program, C-Change, at the University of Kansas.

HERS Intern, Abigail Jones, and her poster.

After the summer program ended, HERS interns had several opportunities to present their work at professional meetings, workshops and symposia around the country the following academic year. A unique aspect of the program is that some of the “graduating” interns will get the opportunity to return in subsequent years to act as mentors for the new interns. In this way the program serves as a “Pathway” into STEM careers.

HERS Intern Tyler Kimbrell, and his poster.

During the next five years the program will continue to receive funding under the auspices of a new EPSCoR initiative, Climate Change and Renewable Energy, Award No. EPS-0903808. It will be one of four interrelated research initiatives that comprise that project.


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