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UB adds doctorate on ecosystem

The University at Buffalo has been awarded a $3.1 million grant to train the next generation of environmental experts.

UB will receive the money from the National Science Foundation over five years to establish a doctoral program in restoring the ecosystem.

In what UB officials describe as unusual, the program will integrate a variety of disciplines, such as science, engineering and public policy, to give the students a broader-based understanding for solving complex environmental problems.

"While hydrologists worry about how the water flows in a stream or creek; the ecologists worry about how changes in those flows affect the fish and other organisms that live in those waters," said Alan Rabideau, a professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering at UB and director of the new doctoral program. "In many cases, the ecologists and the hydrologists don't fully understand the others' perspective."

"The goal is that graduates will be drawn to socially relevant problems and will have the interdisciplinary perspective to tackle them," he said.

Rabideau, UB Provost Satish K. Tripathi and Harvey G. Stenger Jr., dean of the School of Engineering, announced the new program Thursday morning in Broderick Park, located on the Niagara River.

Restoring ecosystems is a hot topic, the officials said, and no better training ground can be found than Western New York, which faces any number of important environmental issues. They range from cleaning up polluted waterways to the politics behind the Great Lakes.

"I think it's a model for how the university and our local community can work on real outreach issues," said Lynda Schneekloth, a UB professor of architecture and former president of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, a group dedicated to reclaiming area waterways.

The doctoral program will involve faculty in the UB Law School, as well as experts from Buffalo State College, Niagara University and several Canadian universities.

The grant will pay tuition and a $30,000-per-year stipend for two years of doctoral study, plus funds for research, travel and internships. Applications are being accepted for 25 positions, with the first class to begin in September.

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

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