Virginia Tech research, graduate program focus on interfaces

Blacksburg,, Va., -- The mass and energy transfer that takes place at natural interfaces determines virtually every aspect of life. A Virginia Tech team of scientists and engineers has received a prestigious Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) award in the amount of $3.1 million to study these phenomena.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is providing the funding for "Exploring Interfaces through Graduate Education and Research." Known as EIGER, Virginia Tech's project will explore naturally occurring interfaces among minerals, water, air, and microorganisms. The program also will explore the complex interfaces among people who make up the interdisciplinary teams that will investigate these interfacial phenomena.

"Gaining an interdisciplinary understanding of these complex processes will only be possible if we are able to transfer knowledge across the interfaces between humans and between disciplines. EIGER is unique because we will study these physical and psychological processes simultaneously," said John Little, professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) who is the international internship coordinator. EIGER includes 11 remote laboratory locations on five continents, and EIGER fellows, in teams of two, will engage in research at these international sites in a novel program called "paired internships."

EIGER will educate the "whole student" in a complex field vital to the leading environmental issues of the day. It is envisioned that this educational model will help drive an institutional transformation at Virginia Tech and beyond. The program will support at least 27 graduate students during the next five years.

"As part of EIGER, we will develop a new graduate-level course that will actually teach students how to do interdisciplinary research in science and engineering. We will be offering this course to Virginia Tech's EIGER Fellows and other doctoral candidates. These graduate students are

Contact: Karen Gilbert
Virginia Tech

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