DataFEWSion Trainee Handbook

DataFEWSion Graduate Traineeship Handbook

This handbook provides general guidance to the DataFEWSion Graduate Traineeship program. For specific questions, please address them to                                                                                                                                 

Document – Aug 2022


Welcome to the DataFEWSion Graduate Traineeship program at Iowa State University!

This student handbook provides guidance about important issues related to your participation in the program.  For general information on graduate studies at Iowa State University, visit your program of study graduate handbook or the Graduate College website.

We are honored to have you participating in the program.  DataFEWSion is one of many NSF’s graduate traineeship programs in the United States, and we hope you will receive all that is intended in designing the program.  We also encourage you to bring questions and comments to the DataFEWSion leadership team at any time.

 DataFEWSion Leadership Team:

Sarah Ryan – Lead PI

Dept: Ind. & Manuf. Systems Engineering


Office: 515-294-4347


Robert Brown

Dept: Mechanical Engineering


Office: 515-294-7934


Amy Kaleita-Forbes

Dept: Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering


Office: 515-294-5167


Sergio Lence

Dept: Economics


Office: 515-294-8960


Michelle Soupir

Dept: Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering


Office: 515-294-2307


Cameron Mackenzie

Dept: Ind. & Manuf. Systems Engineering


Office: 515-294-6283



Because the DataFEWSion graduate traineeship program continually seeks to improve, changes may occur in this handbook.  The DataFEWSion website  will have the most up-to-date version.

Direct general questions to the DataFEWSion program coordinator:

Cynthia Lidtke


Office: 515-294-9095



Collaboration Space: 1

Graduate Certificate_ 1

Coursework_ 1

Basic Steps_ 1

Petition to add a course to the Certificate Electives_ 1

Transfer credits_ 1

Graduate Learning Community (GLC) 2

Small-Group_ 2

Chairing Meetings_ 2

Ground Rules_ 2

Workshops_ 2

ePortfolio_ 2

Requirements/Expectations: 3

Timeline_ 3

Artifacts_ 3

Reflection_ 3

Peer Review: 4

Symposium_ 5

Research and Professional Development Grant 5

Details_ 5

Eligibility_ 5

Online Application Process_ 6

Restrictions_ 6

Workday Reimbursement 6

NSF guidelines and requirements_ 6

NSF Requirements and Evaluations_ 6

NSF Acknowledgement Guidelines_ 6

Annual Progress Report 7

Social Media_ 7



Appendix List

Appendix 1: Petition for Addition to Course Electives

Appendix 2: Acknowledgement of Support NSF grant # DGE-1828942 

Appendix 3: NSF NRT DataFEWSion Proposal Summary



Addendum 1: Group Developed Ground Rules



Collaboration Space:  

The DataFEWSion collaboration space is located at 1373 Howe Hall.  You have 24/7 access to the space for informal meetings in the round, a twin-screen private room, or individual study space.

Room Access Code

At the beginning of the semester, you will be provided an access code for the room.  The code should not be shared with anyone outside of the program.

Graduate Certificate



The course electives you provided in your agreement are a draft schedule.  You may select different electives as needed, but they must meet the requirements.  I.e., one course from each of the three categories and both core courses.  The most accurate listing of Certificate Coursework is on the website the coursework for the certificate does not have to be completed in 2 years but must be completed before you graduate. 


Basic Steps

To apply for the Graduate College’s Certificate in Data-Driven Food, Energy, and Water Decision Making Policy, first, complete the “Request to Pursue a Certificate in Addition to a Graduate Degree.”  Note the graduate college must first approve you for the certificate before completing the POS; please allow up to two weeks.  Complete a POS for the certificate only  


Upon completion of the course work or the semester before your “final term,” inform the Program Coordinator.  The program coordinator will submit a “Certificate Completed” signed by the Director of Certificate of Studies


Petition to add a course to the Certificate Electives

You can petition for a new course to be added as an elective if you think it meets the intent of the certificate.  For details on how to petition to add an elective course, see Appendix 1: Petition for addition to Course Electives


Transfer credits

The leadership team will consider each request individually.  Transfer credits are limited to one course up to 4 credits per student.  Inquire through private communication with Dr. Ryan, program director.


Graduate Learning Community (GLC)



The purpose of the small group is:

  • to form an interdisciplinary community that is prepared to explore and engage in collaborations
  • obtain leadership skills through chairing meets & setting agendas
  • learn professional development skills through training
  • develop and enhance communications skills

Following the ISU Graduate Learning Community model, students meet weekly during the regular academic year for one hour and once a month for 2 hours for the workshop series. 


Chairing Meetings

Using a rotation, each trainee will be responsible for chairing the meetings, which may include setting the agenda, timekeeping, icebreaker, and presenting one news/information piece, science-related or not (approx. 5 min.). 


Ground Rules

The 2019 Cohort created “ground rules” for the learning community at the first meeting.  See Group Ground Rules  Each year they can be reviewed and revised.  These are in addition to ISU Principles of Community



The workshop series was designed to be offered in a two-year rotation, ensuring each cohort receives the complete series. 

Series 1 workshops emphasize the trainee’s understanding of and appreciation for the social, economic, and geographic context of the Midwest FEW nexus, in particular, production agriculture, water quality, and bioenergy, as well as helping trainees to understand the unique strengths better that they bring as individuals to addressing FEW issues. 

Series 2 workshops emphasize communication skills to understand diverse audiences and modes of effecting change: entrepreneurship, policy-making, and transformative inter-disciplinary research.


Trainees cap off their traineeship experience by creating/curating a portfolio that combines academic work from the courses in the Certificate program and research results from their dissertation/thesis work, with reflections designed to transform such materials into broader impacts for diverse audiences.  Dr. Amy Kaleita has created a video describing the goals.  You can find it on the DataFEWSion Canvas home page or here:


  1. Each portfolio will have a minimum of 6 artifacts.  Artifacts or links to artifacts should be added to the appropriate assignment located in Cybox.
  2. A reflection piece should accompany each artifact in the portfolio.
  3. The final step is to share with two DataFEWSion peers who will read and provide comments on each artifact. 


  1. It is recommended that the semester you take the Certificate coursework, a course product is submitted as the artifact, with a reflection piece. Other products can be submitted if they fit the “targeted objective” see the tracking form below.
  1. Once you submit an artifact and reflection, you should contact the two peer reviewers.  A spreadsheet showing who will review each artifact is in CyBox.
  2. Within 2 weeks, the peer reviewers should provide a short review of the content related to FEWS and post it in the same folder as the artifact reviewed.  See Peer Review below for the process.
  3. Within a week of receiving the review, the author should provide a brief response to the reviewer addressing the reviewers’ comments.


Note: Selection of the artifact should show the trainee’s breadth of knowledge and ability to work & communicate with people in other fields.  Below are examples.



  • Technical report
  • Formal oral presentation
  • Publishable academic doc.
  • Poster
  • Elevator speech
  • Audio abstract
  • Coursework product
  • Multimedia product




The reflection should be less than one page.  Suggested reflection questions to address:

  • Purpose and context of the artifact.  Why did you select it?
  • Describe the intended audience, primary goals, and objectives.
  • How does the artifact reflect your strengths, interests, or career pathway?
  • Describe what you learned from the assignment, paper, or project as related to FEWS.

Peer Review:

The purpose of the DataFEWSion Artifact peer review is two-fold:

  1. Provide feedback to the author as it reflects on their participation in the DataFEWSion program.
  2. Reviewers gain insight into various FEWS-related content and the opportunity to interact.


Review Guidelines:

Comments should have a professional tone.  The following should be addressed:

  • How does the artifact meet the targeted objective listed on the DataFEWSion tracking form below?
  • Is there another outlet (i.e., LinkedIn) where all or part of this artifact could be highlighted?
  • You may not be able to validate the science from another field, but you can evaluate the artifact on many levels.  You are not checking grammar or writing style.  In general, the product has been graded or submitted to a journal.

NOTE:  the fact that a paper has been published doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have flaws, conceptual or otherwise.  Evidence of this is that many journals publish errata and comments to the original papers.  In addition, as it recently happened, it widely publicized COVID19 studies, journals retract articles if warranted.  If the review finds flaws, it may provide useful information for the portfolio holder, as they may decide it is better to change the artifact.

 Artifact Tracking Form


Semester Submitted

Certificate Curriculum Knowledge Area

 Targeted Objective from NSF proposal



ABE 690 Biosystems for Sustainable Development

Understanding of the interactions among food production, renewable energy generation, and water quality (O2.1)



Economics, Policy, or Sociology of FEW

Knowledge of the economic, social, and policy contexts of those interactions (O2.1)



Data acquisition, visualization, and analytics

Effective use of systems modeling to represent & illuminate FEWS interactions (O2.1)



Complex systems modeling for decision support

Ability to use decision science and analytics in FEWS to interpret heterogeneous data from a variety of processes (O2.2)



GR ST 566 Communications in Science

Ability to communicate across disciplinary boundaries (O3.2)




Ability to work effectively in teams (O3.2)

NOTE: The identifier in parentheses is the outcomes and goals of the proposal.


The annual DataFEWSion Symposium will offer a theme around FEWS and data, bringing in a nationally recognized keynote speaker.  Networking with the DataFEWSion Industrial Advisory and other faculty advisors will be another focus.  A working group of students and faculty will design and direct the symposium, including a student poster session and/or presentation.

Research and Professional Development Grant

The DataFEWSion Graduate Traineeship Program will set aside a portion of the NSF NRT award for trainee and alumni travel and/or publication assistance each year.  This grant aims to increase trainees’ networking opportunities and build their resumes through name recognition on citations and presentations at professional conferences.



  • Travel grants are available on a competitive basis.
  • Trainees and Alumni can individually receive a maximum of $1,000 per fiscal year (July 1st – June 30th), a combined total from travel or publication fees.
  • A “research and professional development grant review committee,” composed of one leadership team member and two students, will review the applications and make a determination. If there is not a consensus online, they will meet in person.
  • The student representatives will serve one academic year.

Preference will be given to applicants:

  1. presenting at scientific conferences, meetings, or symposia
  2. developing skills that can be added to your resume/CV
  3. publishing on FEWS nexus topics outside your research
  4. have not been funded in the past.

A “return on investment” is requested from each recipient through at least one of the following:

  1. Acknowledge NSF & DataFEWSion’s support in the presentation, poster, or publication (NSF acknowledgment must be included on papers).
  2. Provide participant’s photo at the event or link to publication for DataFEWSions use on social media or website.
  3. Present to peers information obtained from the event or a synopsis of the paper.



  1. Open to all current DataFEWSion graduate trainees (funded or unfunded).
  2. Open to Alumni of the DataFEWSion graduate traineeship program who are in the process of completing their degree and are registered at Iowa State University.
  3. The applicant must be in good standing with the DataFEWSion program. Current trainees must have attended 80% of the programming and be progressing in certificate completion.  Traineeship alumni must have successfully completed all program requirements.


Online Application Process

Travel grant:

Publication assistance grant:

For timely consideration, please submit applications at least two weeks before the event or submission of the publication.


  1. International travel is excluded.
  2. Applicants can be reimbursed only for the actual amount spent for airfare, hotel, and registration fees up to the maximum amount.


Workday Reimbursement

All expenses are reimbursed through a Workday Expense Report.  Travel expense reimbursement can not be processed until all required documentation is received and analyzed to meet funding requirements.  

A key element of documentation is the “Business Purpose.” It should include the who, what, when, where, and why.  Below is an example.

I, NAME, attended the CONFERENCE in LOCATION from DATE.  ADD THE VERBIAGE YOU SUBMITTED FOR THE GRANT, EXPLAINING HOW IT BENEFITS THE PROGRAM.  (You can also add the title and abstract from your presentation/poster).

For additional questions regarding the Expense Report process, contact

NSF guidelines and requirements


NSF Requirements and Evaluations

The National Science Foundation (NSF) monitors the program through a comprehensive performance assessment and project evaluation plan.  The evaluation plan was built around project goals and designed to assess effectiveness and impact and provide indicators for corrective action to enhance outcomes.  Therefore, throughout the year, various short surveys will be conducted and used to adjust programming.  Of course, you are always welcome to make suggestions.


Beginning in 2022, NSF instituted an additional requirement for the students — requesting participants to provide feedback as part of the annual reporting requirements.  Each year around June, you will receive an email from NSF requesting your input.


NSF Acknowledgement Guidelines

If papers that you publish or presentations that you give at conferences feature research that you conducted, in part or in full, while supported by the NSF NRT DataFEWSion Traineeship program, it is crucial to credit the National Science Foundation.  Even if the NSF award did not provide direct financial support for the execution of your research (e.g., costs of fieldwork or lab analyses), the stipend provided support for your time while completing your work and, therefore, should be acknowledged.  See appendix 2: NSF Acknowledgement Guidelines for more details  There is also a link in Canvas.

The NSF NRT DataFEWSion proposal summary is in Appendix 3: NSF NRT Proposal Summary.

Annual Progress Report



The information from the report will be incorporated into DataFEWSion’s annual report to the NSF.  Annual reports, sometimes call performance reports, are standard procedures for many professionals in academia, government, and industry.  The information allows you to review the past year’s accomplishments and can be a time to update your CV.  Or, if your CV is updated already, it can be used to populate the annual report.  



All trainees must complete a progress report annually.  The reporting period will be from August 15th of the past year through August 14th of the current year.



The report is due on June 1st of each year.  And should include any predicted activity through August 15th.


General guidelines for Progress Report

  1. Assume that an outside agency/department/VPR office may not know all the acronyms or specific programs within your department. Spell everything out.
  2. Give as much detail as possible –dates, funds, agencies, cooperators, even a website address. Maintaining a detailed document will benefit you throughout your career.
  3. See CyBox module “NSF Annual Progress Report” for guidelines and examples.

Social Media


Please feel free to link your LinkedIn or Twitter to DataFEWSion – #datafewsion.  Doing so will help in promoting you to other organizations.