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NSF awards $2 million to Texas A&M-Kingsville to expand graduate training model to address coastal issues

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Javelina Engineering Complex

KINGSVILLE (September 11, 2023) —  Dr. Jianhong Jennifer Ren, professor of environmental engineering in the Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville was recently awarded $2 million from the National Science Foundation for Graduate STEM Education for Air and Water Resources Solutions in Coastal Communities.

This research traineeship award will develop a new graduate training model to educate the next generation of environmental professionals with in-depth knowledge and skills to address environmental sustainability-related coastal issues.

“Coastal communities face unprecedented environmental challenges such as frequent and intensified floods and droughts, uncertain availability of water resources, harmful algal blooms and deteriorating water and air quality,” Ren said. “Finding solutions to these air and water resources (AWR) management challenges can become complex due to social and environmental factors such as rapid population growth, industrial development, urbanization and climate change.”

Over the five years of the grant, Ren said she anticipates training 78 master’s and doctoral students, including 24 funded trainees from engineering, computer science, geosciences, agriculture science, environmental science, plant and soil science, education and sociology programs.

“Our new graduate education model adopts a transdisciplinary approach to graduate training and convergent solution-seeking for effective AWR management that includes academic skills preparation, professional skills development and humanitarian service-learning experience.


Other members of the team joining principal investigator Ren are:

  • Co-principal investigators

Dr. David Ramirez, professor and chair, environmental engineering

Dr. Hua Li, professor, mechanical and industrial engineering

Dr. Tushar Sinha, associate professor, environmental engineering and

Dr. Ari Sherris, associate professor, teacher and bilingual education


  • Faculty partners

Dr. David Hicks, associate professor, computer science

Dr. Christine Reiser Robbins, associate professor, anthropology

Dr. Joel Cabrera, assistant professor, horticulture, Citrus Center

Dr. Marion Blake, associate professor, psychology

Dr. Francisco Haces-Fernandez, assistant professor, management, marketing and information systems

Dr. Haibin Su, professor, geosciences

Dr. Robert Villa, associate professor, social work


  • Internal evaluator

Dr. Liliana Rodriguez, assistant professor, sociology.



Category: Engineering , Arts/Sciences , Business Admin , Edu/Kines , Ag/Env & Wildlife Sci , General Univ

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