event 13 Oct 2017

Graduate Training // UM BRIDGES: Bridging divides across the food-energy-water nexus

UM BRIDGES is a graduate training program at the University of Montana focused on the food‐energy‐ water (FEW) nexus. UM BRIDGES trains graduate students to conduct cutting‐edge and cross‐sector research on complex FEW problems, and prepares these students to succeed in a range of science and science‐related jobs through an innovative, interdisciplinary program. The training program comprises coursework, seminars, and workshops and provides opportunities for international and interdisciplinary collaboration and research. Trainees are also eligible for funding support for various FEW‐related activities.

category Projects tag Nexus Methodology tag Capacity Building
Logo um bridges university of montana


In 2016, the University of Montana received a $3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to train graduate students in innovations at the nexus of food, energy, and water systems (INFEWS) under the National Research Traineeship (NRT) program. The award, which is part of broader NSF initiatives to build more sustainable and secure food, energy, and water systems and to develop innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to graduate education, is helping the University of Montana to become a leader in these arenas.


Trainees will participate in interdisciplinary coursework, workshops, internships, and other opportunities, including:

  • Field and classroom courses on the food-energy-water nexus
  • Workshops to develop career skills in communicating science
  • Workshops to develop technical skills in numeracy and working with data
  • Seminars to delve into FEW nexus research, application, and applied skills
  • Internships to connect classroom learning and research to real- world problem-solving
  • Co-labs led by two or more UM BRIDGES faculty from different FEW disciplines to cultivate interdisciplinary knowledge and communication skills
  • International experiences to deepen global perspectives on the social, economic, and biophysical linkages between FEW sectors


Trainees will focus research on cross-sector and cross-disciplinary research themes, including, but not limited to:

  • Trade-offs in river and rangeland systems
  • Energy transitions and implications for agriculture and water
  • Agriculture and drought in the face of climate change uncertainty
  • Tribal and indigenous issues at the FEW nexus
  • Cross-cutting themes such as governance and adaptability, uncertainty and policy, and climate change


Trainees in the UM BRIDGES program will be eligible for various types of funding support, including:

  • Selected trainees will receive fellowships consisting of a $34,000/year stipend and tuition waiver
  • Fellowships are 1 year for M.S. students and 2 years for Ph.D. students
  • All trainees are eligible for travel support, including up to $4000 per Ph.D. trainee and $2000 per M.S. trainee for domestic travel for research and meetings, and
  • USD 3,500 per Ph.D. trainee for international travel, including for research, meetings, internships, and other international experiences.
  • Mini-grants are available to support FEW- related research, including for computers, lab analysis, and other supplies, including up to $2000 per Ph.D. trainee and $1000 per M.S. trainee
  • Trainees should discuss funding for their graduate studies with their advisor; typically funding beyond fellowships will come from a combination of Teaching Assistantships and other research grant funding


To apply to the UM BRIDGES training program, prospective or existing students should check eligibility requirements, fill out a student application form, and ask their faculty advisor to fill out the faculty advisor support form (all available online at www.umt.edu/bridges). Applications are due August 1 of each year. UM BRIDGES fellowship stipends are awarded through a separate process. Students interested in being considered for a fellowship should contact a UM BRIDGES faculty 6-12 months before prospective enrollment (see website for list of current faculty).


Flyer (PDF)


For more information, visit our website or contact:

Alisa Wade
UM BRIDGES Program Coordinator
Department of Geosciences
University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812



Stephanie Bilgram
Global Nexus Secretariat


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