Public Release: 

OU research team selected to develop aeroecology national research training program

University of Oklahoma


IMAGE: The radar aeroecology logo represents a new national research training program for graduate education. view more

Credit: University of Oklahoma

An interdisciplinary research team from the University of Oklahoma--a global leader in the emerging science of aeroecology--has been awarded a $2.9 million National Science Foundation grant to develop an aeroecology training program that will be used as a model at OU and other universities to train graduate students from science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and other disciplines. The program will fulfill a national need to train data scientists in the field of aeroecology and its rapidly growing use of Earth-observation data for societal benefits.

Jeffrey F. Kelly, professor of biology in the OU College of Arts and Sciences, is principal investigator on the grant. OU team members are Eli Bridge, Oklahoma Biological Survey; Phillip Chilson, School of Meteorology; Kirsten de Beurs, Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability; Amy McGovern, School of Computer Science; Lori Jervis, Department of Anthropology; and Justin Reedy, Department of Communication. The University of Delaware, the University of Nebraska and major universities from eight EPSCoR states will support this training model in subsequent years.

"We are planning the program in the first year of the grant," said Kelly. "In the second year we will begin teaching OU graduate students from diverse disciplines who are interested in the aeroecology program and in using data derived from radar for multiple uses. The third and fourth years, we will teach students at OU, then replicate the program at the University of Delaware and the University of Nebraska. In the fifth year, we will make the training program available online for the other eight universities."

The objectives of this program are to recruit and retain a diversity of high-quality graduate students to the new program in aeroecology. Training elements will be open to students from across disciplines. OU is committed to being an innovator for training in interdisciplinary STEM leadership and ensuring sustainability of successful training elements developed through the program.

OU will use its diverse faculty expertise and strong relationships with industry, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations to mentor students for a broad diversity of career paths. This breadth of career pathways is key to meeting growing demand for highly trained graduates. Lastly, OU is committed to creating high fidelity, scalable and sustainable training practices that can be implemented in other programs across the consortium and elsewhere. For more information about this program, contact Jeffery F. Kelly at


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