The Value of Partnerships

By Jenna Peneueta-Snyder, Ashley Rone

Interdisciplinary collaborations through the Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS) are key for the expansion of research at North Dakota universities and colleges. These collaborations have lead to some very successful projects and working relationships within the CRCS.

The research partnerships that have developed incorporate various disciplines such as agriculture, hydrology, economics, and atmospheric sciences.

“Most of the connections via CRCS has been with our colleagues at NDSU and other partner institutions across the state,” says Dr. Aaron Kennedy, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Dakota. “Probably the biggest impact has been learning what other work is being done, and the opportunity to brainstorm how our research may or may not connect.”

“My group’s strongest relationship is with the National Weather Service, and activities associated with CRCS have also helped build bonds with other climate/weather groups in the region including the state climate office, and the High Plains Regional Climate Center.” Kennedy added.

The benefits of individual departments coming together to work on common problems provides multiple perspectives on how to solve issues. Collaborations across disciplines have been vital to the many projects CRCS researchers are currently working on.

Dr. Jianglong Zhang (left) and Dr. Aaron Kennedy (right)

We sat down with Dr. Jianglong Zhang, Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of North Dakota, and graduate student Jon Starr on January 22nd, to discuss some of the partnerships that have formed under the CRCS.

At the time of our meeting, Starr’ journal paper got just accepted for publication which explores the combination of an agricultural simulation model and an economic model to better predict the potential impacts of market fluctuations and policy changes on agricultural activities.

In terms of where they see the CRCS going in the future, Zhang and Kennedy both had some big ideas to fill.

“More private company participation. I envision a future where companies can come to us with questions and we can task our students with working on real-world problems,” said Kennedy. “It would be nice to see this eventually form an internship program.”

“A main goal of mine is to improve agricultural practice not only in North Dakota, but in larger areas with the use of new technological models,” said Zhang. His focus has been primarily on regional issues but hopes to expand this vision to the larger scale.

And as far as future partnerships are concerned, Zhang said in the future he would like to work with genetics and phenology.

“One thing, agriculturally related, is looking at genetically modified crops,” said Zhang. “We’ve been looking at how agriculture is affected by the weather, and by the economy, but it’s also been affected by the increasing quality of seeds which is an area we wish to explore.”