EPSCoR - Montana NSF

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The project leverages ongoing diversity activities funded through current EPSCoR programs at Montana State University (MSU) and The University of Montana (UM). In particular, this project will benefit those students and faculty at Salish Kootenai College, Flathead Valley Community College, Dawson Community College, Miles Community College, and MSU–Billings. These institutions educate a diverse group of students including Native Americans, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and non–traditional students seeking new training. The 2007–2011 EPSCoR diversity plan is comprehensive and is strategically designed to have particularly strong linkages across all components of the current and future EPSCoR projects. Research opportunities are targeted to students attending any of Montana’s 4–year or 2–year colleges, and independent colleges.

This project will also leverage workforce development activities to advance and retain Native American students from the Tribal Colleges as they enter science career paths through their tribal college science programs, then transfer to a research university to finish their undergraduate degrees or advance to a graduate program. By using state and NSF EPSCoR investments in cyberinfrastructure, researchers at UM and MSU will work directly with scientists and students at the Tribal Colleges through collaborative activities. Increased access to new graduate-level courses within the framework of MSU’s National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN), new courses covering energy, ecology, and related topics, will all become part of a permanent catalog of course offerings establishing a model for EPSCoR to nationally reach teachers of science with timely and accurate science content.

Special emphasis will be placed on evaluating impacts that depend on digital resources, cross-institution collaborations, and research projects in environmental monitoring. Additional assessment instruments will be developed to ascertain the effect of the increased bandwidth on those research and education activities such as collaborative interactions and distance learning opportunities. External evaluators and a scientific review board will assess progress and impact of this work.