WEST (Water, the Environment, Science and Teaching)
University of Utah
Project WEST engages its graduate fellows in an interdisciplinary research seminar that gives fellows experience working in cross-disciplinary teams to address environmental and societal issues related to the Wasatch Front watershed. Each team is composed of a hydrologist (WATER), meteorologist (AIR), geologist/geophysicist (EARTH), and a biologist (LIFE). Teams are tasked with researching various aspects and developing projects for one of three critical zones along the Wasatch Front: 1) the mountains, as catchments for winter snows that supply this arid region with water throughout the dry summer months, 2) the urban corridor, with its insatiable demand for water and its generation of various contaminants that enter the hydrologic system, and 3) the Great Salt Lake and surrounding wetlands that receive all of the region's runoff and serve as filters for contaminants as well as generating micro-climate lake-effect snows. In addition to the research component of the seminar, teams design data collecting and analyzing activities for K-12 students that tie to their research topics and the State of Utah's core curriculum requirements. These activities will ultimately result in teaching modules or kits that can be transferred to multiple classrooms and schools. Disseminating this information to K-12 students helps the fellows learn to communicate scientific content to a variety of audiences. Research results and activities will be displayed in a multi-tiered website that can be built upon in coming years by subsequent classes of WEST fellows.