A University of Vermont research effort got a $20 million boost this year to fund studies on how to make watersheds more resilient to extreme weather events, officials announced Monday.
The $20 million National Science Foundation grant is expected to fund research projects for the next five years. The funding goes to the Vermont Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which works with academic partners at public and private institutions across the state.
Sen. Patrick Leahy said the funding will help “make Vermont the place to come to learn about one: the bad effects of climate change, but secondly the things we can do to address that and make it better.”
UVM President Thomas Sullivan said the program has an important component for Vermont school children.
“It’s about learning for our middle school students and our high school students and of course our college students in our consortium, who work closely with our senior faculty,” Sullivan said.
Some of the funding is dedicated to funding scholarships and internships in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) for students with a disability, Native Americans, veterans and first-generation college students.
Agency of Education data show that about 90 percent of Vermont high school students ultimately graduate. Of those students, about 60 percent go on to a postsecondary education within 16 months, according to agency data. The state of Vermont consistently funds public colleges and universities well-below the national per-pupil average.
According to Leahy's office, the senator supports President Obama's plan for free community college as well as legislation designed to make college more affordable and allow the refinancing of student loans.
Disclosure: Reporter Taylor Dobbs' partner is an employee of Vermont Works for Women, which will receive some funding through the NSF grant.