NSF-NRT Program and Fellowship

Engendering the Spirit of Gadugi at the Food-Energy-Water-Nexus

NRT Spring 2024 Sunrise at Farm


The Engendering the Spirit of Gadugi at the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus program is a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship program that provides a comprehensive and culturally appropriate mentoring approach for students interested in investigating FEW Nexus challenges as part of their M.S. and Ph.D. programs at Tennessee Tech University. 


The mentorship team will work with the NRT-NSF fellows to reach their academic and research goals with their leading advisor as well as facilitate the completion of the FEW-Nexus focused program of study. Immersive experiences in partnering communities and innovative Foundry-guided classes that integrate cultural, sociopolitical, and historical knowledge influences FEW challenges will form the foundation for the fellowship experience. All fellows will participate in immersive research experiences with partnering communities as part of their training and will also have optional internship opportunities with a diverse range of tribal, industrial, federal, and state organizations to benefit professional development.

>Fellowship applications are closed but will reopen in December for the Fall 2025 semester.<


The Engendering the Spirit of Gadugi (a Cherokee word meaning ‘working together’) at the Food-Energy-Water (FEW) Nexus program  will transform graduate education programs in the STEM fields at Tennessee Tech University (TN Tech) with National Science Foundation support [Award No. 2152218]. This program provides funded graduate fellowships to eligible M.S. and Ph.D. students who will become the next generation of holistic STEM professionals using innovation-driven learning and collaborative strategies to address complex FEW Nexus challenges. The vision is to enable graduate students to identify a problem at the intersection of food, energy and water areas that they want to help solve in partnership with rural, Appalachian or Cherokee communities. In addition to the opportunity to partner with those communities and learn from their expertise while fulfilling their degree requirements, students will also be acquiring and transferring skills associated with problem identification and problem solving while working on complex, societal challenges.


The Engendering the Spirit of Gadugi at the Food-Energy-Water (FEW)-Nexus program is a graduate level program designed to promote a collaborative approach to the training of a socially and culturally responsible holistic style-professional, interested in applying technical engineering and science principles to complex FEW Nexus  challenges. Partnering with key community leaders, including the Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Appalachian communities, and local rural areas, the program offers students an inclusive and immersive learning experience that strengthens students’ ability to solve complex FEW problems through a rich understanding of cultural, social, and scientific knowledge. Using the Foundry model, an innovation-driven learning platform, students will leverage core knowledge from their key scientific concentrations and gain interdisciplinary understandings in real-world applications and collaborative experiences, supported by both academic and community mentors.


Applicants can be current or prospective students who would first apply and be accepted to an eligible graduate degree program before applying to both the NRT program and fellowship. Current and future Tennessee Tech students should refer to the Eligibility Requirements linked below to determine their eligibility.

Eligibility Requirements

Application ProcessNRT in Cherokee 2024

**Program and Fellowship applications for Fall 2024 are now closed. 

Applications will reopen in December for the Fall 2025 semester.

Students must first apply and be accepted to an eligible graduate degree program.

Interested students must complete an additional application packet that should be submitted directly to the Program Coordinator, Dr. Sabrina Buer, at To apply for the NSF NRT program, fellowship, or both, click on the NSF-NRT Application. Students should refer to the Application Process link below for the details pertaining to the application process, including a list of eligible graduate degree programs and the requirements for the application packet.

Application Process


For more information on the NSF NRT program or fellowship, contact the Program Coordinator, Dr. Sabrina Buer, at

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