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K-State Today

February 25, 2021

Chapman Center announces winners of second annual Interdisciplinary Research Grant

Submitted by Laura Perez

Interdisciplinary Research Grant winners

The Chapman Center for Rural Studies, a center of excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, announces Audrey Joslin, assistant professor of geography and geospatial sciences; Jason Bergtold, professor of agricultural economics; and Marcellus Caldas, professor of geography and geospatial sciences, as recipients of the 2021 Interdisciplinary Research Grant.

Joslin, Bergtold and Caldas will use this grant on their interdisciplinary project, "Grassland Conservation Landscapes in a Wildfire Context: Rural Emergency Response and Resilience." Their focus is on recognizing the resilience of rural communities that face increased wildfire threats while tirelessly working to conserve grasslands and agricultural lands, such as through participation in the Conservation Reserve Program. U.S. Department of Agriculture programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program incentivize land preservation to help protect watersheds, maintain soil quality and protect wildlife habitats.

"It is important to learn directly from those who live the challenge of wildfire amidst grassland stewardship and agricultural land management," Joslin said. "Local people have a deep knowledge and history of their land and it is imperative to listen to their experience and perspectives."

Joslin, Bergtold and Caldas will receive a stipend to encourage their interdisciplinary work. The aim of the Interdisciplinary Research Grant is to generate new insights into the dynamics of rural life through partnerships with rural Kansas communities or with the potential to improve the quality of life for rural Kansas residents. The project embodies this mission as it unites methods from geography and geospatial sciences with agricultural economics to consider the real threat of larger and more frequent wildfires.

"This project brings to the fore the relationship between the Plains and the people who live on them," said Mary Kohn, director of the Chapman Center. "This landscape, and the natural forces that shape it, are in the very fabric of our communities. It is vital that we continue to examine that relationship so that we may prepare for the future and preserve our rural communities. I'm thrilled to be able to support the work of Drs. Joslin, Bergtold, and Caldas."

To learn more about the project, visit the Wildfire and Conservation Landscapes webpage. 

Information about the next round of grants will be available in fall 2022.