UPR receives nearly $1 million from USDA for natural resources studies
By John McPhaul
The University of Puerto Rico (UPR), through the Department of Environmental Sciences at the Río Piedras Campus, was the recipient of an allocation of funds of $975,314 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture program “Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Training New Leaders in Agricultural and Natural Sustainability and Resilience.”
Announced by UPR Interim President Dr. Mayra Olavarría Cruz, the funds are aimed at recruiting and supporting Hispanic students’ college careers related to food, agriculture, and natural resources.
“The UPR is firmly committed to sustaining its operations by raising funds from various sources aimed at financing its projects and research centers,” Olavarría Cruz said. “The granting of this scholarship from the federal Department of Agriculture helps us advance the environmental protection agenda that we have set for ourselves and allows us to support the careers of economically disadvantaged students committed to agriculture and the environment.”
The funds will benefit students participating in the project known as HSI: The Puerto Rico Natural Resource Career Track: New Frontiers and New Collaborators. The program has participants from the Río Piedras, Humacao and Mayagüez campuses of the UPR. Students from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico (UIPR) Bayamón campus also benefit.
The project is directed by Dr. Jess K. Zimmerman, from the Department of Environmental Sciences of the Río Piedras Campus. Its purpose is to provide future scientists and science facility managers with a robust and comprehensive understanding of a wide variety of disciplines that enables them to devise ways to manage natural resources while adapting or mitigating future changes in global settings.
Dr. Elvia J. Meléndez, a professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the Río Piedras Campus and co-director of the project, stated that “this scholarship is a model of academic development that will provide participants with skills that will allow them not just to make a successful transition to the world of work, but will develop professionals who will be able to address the complex environmental challenges that impact us as a society.”
Also part of the environmental education effort are Dr. Pedro Ríos, from El Yunque Forest Reserve; Dr. Alejandro Torres and Dennis Fernández, from UPR Humacao; and Dr. Bert Rivera, from UIPR Bayamón.