The National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) project on “Risk and Uncertainty Quantification in Marine Science” at Oregon State University is preparing a new generation of natural resource scientists and managers to study, protect, and manage ocean systems. The trainees combine mathematics, statistics, and computer science with environmental and social sciences to study significant societal problems using large and ever-expanding data resources. With powerful analytical tools, they are tracking the top-down effects of human actions and the bottom-up effects of climate change on the ocean system.
Through a combination of technical coursework, communication workshops, national and international internships, stakeholder engagement, peer mentoring, and involvement in transdisciplinary research projects, NRT@OSU trainees learn about the dynamics of coupled natural-human systems, the science of big data, risk and uncertainty quantification, and communication.
Three Mathematics graduate students have been funded by the NRT@OSU program. These three students describe below their experiences in this innovative and highly transdisciplinary program.
Sebastián Naranjo Álvarez (Advisor: V. A. Bokil)
After completing my studies in high school I was mesmerized by the elegance of the simplicity of the laws of physics and modeling of physical phenomenon. As an undergraduate student I switched my attention to mathematics and completed the Colombian equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics, with a focus on partial differential equations (PDEs). As a graduate student at Oregon State University, I feel compelled to return to my roots and become a transdisciplinary researcher capable of understanding the physics and the mathematics that rule the baffling universe we inhabit, as well as being able to take advantage of the computational techniques we have available in order to faithfully simulate the real world.
One of the principal goals of the NRT is to provide the next generation of researchers with the skills to conduct transdisciplinary research. When I found this out, I jumped at the opportunity of applying to be a NRT trainee.