TRANSCENDING DISCIPLINES AND SPACE: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE RIVER BASINS RESEARCH INITIATIVE AT FURMAN UNIVERSITY
In 2002, the River Basins Research Initiative began a relationship with Universidad Metropolitana (UMET) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This relationship has grown from including students and faculty in our NSF-REU program to developing a collaborative watershed study in Puerto Rico focused on the Rio Grande Loiza. This watershed has fifteen U.S.G.S. gaging stations and a variety of land covers including agricultural, forested and urban. Furman University is providing chemical analyses of samples, and faculty are traveling to Puerto Rico to collaborate with UMET faculty on sampling design and analytical techniques.
Three major challenges have been identified over the years. First, maintaining interdisciplinary interaction requires constant searching for new fields of research. Second, increased success in funding has resulted expansion of the program beyond our capabilities, and resulting in a need for technician help. Third, expansion to an overseas collaboration has required the intense collaboration of two universities. The benefits are numerous, including tight interaction among the faculty, the development of new courses, the close collaboration with students from a variety of disciplines, and a constant influx of new and interesting ideas for research.