STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) — A team of researchers lead by Oklahoma State University is launching a project to address climate issues affecting rural communities through a new award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

This NSF award is part of a $56 million investment in 11 projects, spanning a total of 21 institutions in 19 jurisdictions through NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).  

“We are excited to launch this new project called Rural Confluence, which is designed to bring together people and ideas from diverse but connected communities, disciplines and institutions within the Mississippi River basin to advance the science of rural resilience and to reduce climate-related vulnerabilities in rural communities.” said Tyson Ochsner, the project’s principal investigator and professor of plant and soil sciences at OSU.

Ochsner says the name represents the project’s focus on studying rural water resources and “the idea of rivers coming together.” In the spirit of coming together, OSU faculty and students will be collaborating with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Louisiana State University, Western Oklahoma State College and Northern Oklahoma College on Rural Confluence.

“This project will substantially advance rural climate resilience research and generate lasting improvements in rural STEM opportunities,” Ochsner said. “These collaborations will lay the foundation for long-term partnerships between the Rural Renewal Initiative at OSU, the Rural Prosperity Nebraska program at UNL and the Gulf Scholars Program at LSU.”  

The NSF’s investment in this project is part of an ongoing effort to strengthen research and education in states that show strong commitment in these areas but haven’t received the same level of funding as other parts of the country.