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Tier One Program (TOP) Grants

 
The Tier One Program (TOP) grants were developed to aid faculty members in funding the integration of multidisciplinary research and creative activities into the learning experience.
 
Listed below are the abstracts for the TOP proposals that received funding in 2013.  
 

 
Bridging Hydrology, Governance, Culture and Scarcity for Effective Rio Grande Water Management: An Interdisciplinary Experiential Learning and Research Program
Participating Colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Architecture, Dwight Look College of Engineering, Geosciences
 
We seek to enhance participation of graduate students to address bi-national and tri-state transboundary water management. The Water Management and Hydrological Science interdisciplinary graduate degree program will provide the leadership in organizing and conducting a three-phase teaching and research experience using the Rio Grande River as the study setting. We propose to recruit 50 graduate students from multiple departments in the Colleges of Architecture, Agriculture and Life Sciences, Engineering and Geosciences, plus students in the Water Program, in a unique teaching and research experience involving classroom teaching, a field trip and presentations at a conference organized at TAMU for purposes of showcasing student work. We are requesting support for a part-time program coordinator, faculty and student field trip expenses and conference expenses..
 
Enhancing Teaching and Research in Health Impacts of Air Pollution
Participating Colleges:  Agriculture and Life Sciences, Geosciences, Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
 
This project will integrate interdisciplinary education and research goals, which together will address one of the most critical issues facing the State of Texas today - air pollution and its impacts on human health. The project will focus on graduate and undergraduate training and research in air quality monitoring and animal model studies of exposure to multi-pollutants under simulated experiments characteristic of two geographic locations in Texas (College Station and Houston) that represent distinct air quality from clean to polluted conditions. Undergraduate students and graduate students will have' opportunities to operate state-of-the-art analytical instruments at the two locations to identify and quantify ambient gaseous and particulate matter (PM) pollutants, measure two key criteria air pollutants (i.e., ozone and PM) using personal monitors across Texas, and employ the results from the field measurements to design animal exposure experiments to investigate the effects of multi-pollutants on reproductive health. Multi-pollutant conditions will be generated in controlled laboratory experiments for animal exposure studies to identify and isolate the health effects of PM size, concentration, chemical composition, and morphology. This proposal will enhance the learning and research experiences of undergraduate and graduate students in air pollution measurements and health impacts, and will engage faculty from the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, and Geosciences under the Texas A&M's "One Health" initiative. Ultimately, this project will enhance the possibility of establishing a national center at TAMU, to be affiliated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Research Centers program by introducing a geographic region not currently covered.
 
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Participating Colleges:  Agriculture and Life Sciences, Geosciences, Science, Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University at Galveston
 
While undergraduate science students have lab courses for active and hands-on learning, graduate students are relegated to mostly traditional classroom learning. We seek to develop a novel model for interdisciplinary education at Texas A&M, via a curriculum centered around experiential learning in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB). Our key objectives are to instill students with foundational knowledge, critical thinking, scientific acumen, and mentoring skills. We will achieve these through: (1) Foundational learning via a modular, one year series of EEB mini-courses for first-year graduate students, each taught by a different faculty member, incorporating interactive learning with 50% time spent outside the traditional classroom environment in a field, molecular, or computer lab; (2) Inquiry­ based summer field courses at sites around Texas, providing graduate and undergraduate students with hands-on research experience; (3) A competitive summer fellowship program at the Costa Rica Soltis Center for graduate research and undergraduate mentoring in a biodiverse international setting.  This unique TAMU field station allows students to broaden interdisciplinary skills, while also gaining valuable experience mentoring undergraduates and (4) A year-long mentoring program for graduate students that will link to their own research projects. Each graduate student will work closely on their doctoral research project with an undergraduate mentee. Together, these activities provide undergraduates with high-impact learning experiences in related fields across TAMU and enhance our efforts to develop a world-class Ph.D. in EEB.
 
Seed Funding for StartUp Aggieland -a Texas A&M University Entrepreneurship Laboratory
Participating Colleges:  Architecture, Mays Business School
 
According to the Small Business Administration, net job creation between 1994 and 2008 was due almost entirely to the efforts of entrepreneurs running small businesses. Texas A&M University (TAMU) faces an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of educational and experiential offerings to support this economic reality by lending its hand to StartUp AggieLand Entrepreneurial Laboratory (SAEL), based in the TAMU Research Park. Conceived in 2012, the SAEL is currently operating on a limited basis and seeks funds to increase its value to TAMU and to enable its long term viability. The SAEL aims to provide cross campus educational, research, and experiential opportunities for students from any classification and from any major. It is anticipated that over 200 students will participate annually in programs offered by the lab, and in addition, over 2000 students, faculty, and staff will be exposed to this initiative indirectly through other classroom experiences, research opportunities, and targeted programming. In addition significant outreach through alumni networks and community engagement is anticipated. This proposal requests funding over a three-year period to allow the SAEL to launch and put in place its operational and sustainability plan. The lab is supported by the Mays
Business School (Mays BS), the College of Architecture (CARC), and the Office of the Vice President of Research (VPR). Each of those entities has been and currently is committed to providing short-term operational and financial support to this initiative.