Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship: Solar Utilization Network (IGERT-SUN)
The IGERT-SUN program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The faculty includes: Willem (Wim) Vermaas, DSc, Program Director; Cesar I. Torres, PhD; Jenefer Husman, PhD; David Guston, PhD; and, Ana Moore, PhD. A key goal of the program is to enlist PhD students from a wide range of disciplines to examine how to advance solar energy science and usage, focusing on three approaches: photovoltaics, solar thermal, and photosynthesis driven bioenergy. IGERT-SUN is designed to seek transitioning our current fossil-fuel based economy to these various forms of solar energy. The variety of participants includes students pursuing doctorates in Engineering, Biochemistry, Environmental Engineering, and Sustainability Engineering; one member is identified as “Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology” doctoral student.
The IGERT-SUN project highlights video on Vimeo demonstrates the faculty’s and the students’ vigor in pursuit of advancing these alternate energy resources. Miles Brungage, a student in the program, described how he appreciates the opportunity to work with colleagues of different studies but working a similar goal, sustainability. And Joseph Laureanti highlighted how this program offers him the opportunity to connect with people within alternative energies fields, and glean from them real purpose in the program. In some abstracts, I read a program focus on attracting “underrepresented groups, particularly Hispanics and Native American” candidates to the program. Although an admirable goal, if carried to excess, the achievement of that goal may result in reducing the diversity of the participants, or even narrowing the breadth of knowledge the program sought to nurture.