Partnership between Penn State and CESU generates funding opportunities

February 22, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — How Penn State faculty members and researchers can take advantage of a national consortium with federal agencies through the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit Network will be the focus of a meeting hosted by the Institutes of Energy and the Environment at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 14, in 233B HUB-Robeson Center. Registration for the meeting is requested. The meeting will also be live streamed.

Since 2001, the University has benefited from the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU) Network, receiving over $5.5 million in funding for research. The CESU helps coordinate the partnering of federal agencies that need research accomplished with researchers qualified to conduct the research.

“Congress created the CESU as a consortium of researchers to allow easy access to academic experts but also as a way for federal scientists and land managers to be more exposed to cutting-edge science happening with academia and among other organizations,” said Daniel Filer, research coordinator for the Chesapeake Watershed CESU. “My position serves as ‘broker’ between federal and non-federal partners, matching science interest and funded opportunities with the best-suited researchers.”

There are 17 CESUs across the country, which represent the different biogeographic regions of the U.S. and its territories. Although Penn State is part of the Chesapeake Watershed CESU, affiliation in the CESU network provides opportunities for research anywhere in the U.S.

The CESU has partnered with many federal agencies and universities, including Penn State, to expedite the process from the point when the funding is awarded to when research can actually begin.

Much of the research needed by federal agency partners is focused on natural and cultural resources management. Emphasizing interdisciplinary and multi-scale approaches, the Chesapeake Watershed CESU addresses the complex and interrelated biological, physical, cultural and social resources and issues within this landscape.

Researchers from colleges across the University have received funds through the CESU, such as the College of Agricultural Sciences, the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, the Eberly College of Science, the College of Health and Human Development and the College of Arts and Architecture. Projects that these researchers have worked on range from fish community assessment to forest health monitoring to visitor-use research at national parks.

“The CESU is a way to fund grad student work during the summer in an area that may give them applicable job experience, working on real-world problems that need to be solved and are in their areas of expertise,” said Lara Fowler, the Institutes of Energy and the Environment’s assistant director for outreach and engagement and senior lecturer at Penn State Law. “This can lead to longer-term funding and financing. Many of the initial agreements are often small — in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 — but they start to build relationships with different federal agencies, which can lead to larger sums in the future.”

A new experts database, specific to the Chesapeake Watershed CESU, will also be discussed at the March 14 meeting. Penn State researchers are encouraged to enter their profiles into the system, so that federal partners can find them more quickly when looking for an expert and active researcher in a specific field.

Fowler along with Peter Newman, head of the College of Health and Human Development’s Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management, serve as administrative liaisons between Penn State and the CESU.

Questions about the CESU can be directed to Fowler, Newman, or Tim Stodart, associate director of sponsored programs for Office of the Vice President for Research. Researchers can also find more information on the Chesapeake Watershed CESU website.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 22, 2019