Adaptable University‐Agency Early‐Career Fellowship Program Creates a Win‐Win‐Win for Wisconsin's Waters
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Adaptable University‐Agency Early‐Career Fellowship Program Creates a Win‐Win‐Win for Wisconsin's Waters

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education
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    Many of today's water resources challenges are wicked problems, demanding innovative solutions across the science‐policy‐management nexus. Simultaneously, early‐career researchers in water resources face a shifting professional landscape in which academic career paths are sparse but where versatile skill sets relevant to water resources issues in governments, non‐governmental organizations, and the private sector are in high demand. Here, we describe an adaptable fellowship model that has proven to be a “win‐win‐win” for early‐career researchers, government agencies, and universities tackling wicked water resources challenges in Wisconsin, USA. The fellowship program recruits post‐masters and post‐doctoral fellows to lead research on a water resources challenge identified as a high priority by a government agency partner. Fellows receive mentorship from both academic and agency mentors and co‐produce actionable knowledge. Costs and administrative responsibilities are shared by the university (Sea Grant/Water Resources Institute) and the host agency. Since its inception in 2015, this program has trained 24 fellows across 11 host programs on issues that range from highly quantitative water quality and hydrogeological questions to qualitative assessments of fisheries management and coastal hazards. In this arrangement, fellows receive collaborative and cross‐disciplinary training that prepares them well for diverse career paths, government agencies benefit from new knowledge targeted at pressing water resources management questions, and university institutions accomplish their missions of training researchers and developing actionable knowledge. We describe this model's applicability to other regions and institutions. Ultimately, this type of program benefits society by building long‐term capacity for collaboration which addresses wicked water problems.
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    Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education, 174(1), 139-154
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