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National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) in Combating Antimicrobial Resistance

Kick-off gathering for the Convergence at the Interfaces of Policy, Data Science, Environmental Science and Engineering for Combating Antimicrobial Resistance National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (CIP-CAR NRT) Kick-off Party | 2021-08-18
Convergence at the Interfaces of Policy, Data Science, Environmental Science and Engineering for Combating Antimicrobial Resistance National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (CIP-CAR NRT) Workshop | 2023-08-17

This NRT brings together PhD students across disciplines to help develop science-based policy to combat the spread of antimicrobial resistance as a pressing societal challenge.

Trainees will engage in transdisciplinary team-based research incorporating data analytics, environmental science and engineering, environmental chemistry, stakeholder engagement, public health, and policy to advance DNA sequencing of wastewater as a powerful tool to identify forms of antimicrobial resistance circulating in the community and inform environmental and public health policy, practice, and interventions. Trainees will gain skills in science communication and ethical stakeholder engagement, learning how to tap into the power of artificial intelligence and other powerful data analytics approaches to inform effective solutions to pressing societal challenges. Trainees that complete the program will be poised as future leaders in government, industry, academia, and non-governmental organizations.



Amy Pruden
Director, Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering
(540) 231-3980

Core Faculty

Todd Schenk
Todd Schenk
School of Public & International Affairs
Leigh-Anne Krometis
Leigh-Anne Krometis
Biological Systems Engineering
Liqing Zhang
Liqing Zhang
Computer Science
Tiffany Drape
Tiffany Drape
Agricultural Leadership and Community Education
Peter Vikesland
Peter Vikesland
Civil & Environmental Engineering
Lenny Heath
Lenwood Heath
Computer Science
Marc Edwards
Marc Edwards
Civil & Environmental Engineering
Kang Xia
Kang Xia
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Affiliated Faculty

Several interdisciplinary programs across campus are collaborating with the Combating Antimicrobial Resistance NRT.  Prospective students can find additional faculty expertise in these programs to build their transdisciplinary PhD committees. 

External Evaluator

Glenda T. Kelly
Duke University
stock photo of students with a laptop in a library

Interested?  Please tell us a bit more about yourself, ask questions, and upload your resume here.

Combating Antimicrobial Resistance NRT trainees should apply directly to their major degree program of interest and indicate in their application that they are interested in the NRT, which themes/topics most interest them, and which faculty best align with their interests.  The four themes are:


  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled approaches to predicting “hot spots” for the spread of antimicrobial resistance and informing wastewater surveillance target
    Leads: Liqing Zhang, Kang Xia, and Amy Pruden
  2. Syndemic approach to evaluating root causes of antimicrobial resistance and identifying holistic solutions
    Leads: Leigh-Anne Krometis, Peter Vikesland, Lenwood Heath
  3. Ethically addressing data security, privacy, and bias in the advancement of wastewater surveillance of antimicrobial resistance
    Leads: Todd Schenk, Marc Edwards, Lenwood Heath
  4. Building wastewater AR surveillance systems that are sensitive to key socioeconomic factors and implementable at community-, regional-, and international scales
    Leads: All core faculty

Trainees may additionally pursue dissertations related to education, training, and stakeholder engagement aspects of the transdisciplinary graduate education program.
Lead: Tiffany Drape

Applicants should directly apply to the PhD program of currently participating programs and departments:

group photo of field team at Water Treatment Plant in Puerto Rico

There are four training elements to complete the program:

  • Completion of the STEP coursework
  • Completion of a field project
  • Completion of a team-based transdisciplinary dissertation chapter
  • Participation in biannual workshops to develop and practice professional skills

student field sampling wastewater

Field Projects are available locally, regionally, and internationally, giving NRT trainees hands-on opportunities to translate new knowledge into practice. Here are some of the opportunities:

  • Hampton Roads Sanitation District is a global leader in wastewater research, operating 16 wastewater treatment plants in southwest Virginia and serving over 1.8 million people

  • Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project organizes volunteers in local Appalachian communities with water, wastewater, environmental health and public health protection needs

  • International projects in Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Hong Kong, or India- working with faculty at other universities on wastewater surveillance of antimicrobial resistance

  • Projects at the interface of Policy, Data Science, and Public Health, including opportunities to apply for internships at Deloitte And others in the Washington D.C. area

students processing water samples

We’re hiring a Project Coordinator! Consider Applying.

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Fralin Life Sciences Institute
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Zayid Suber Combating Antimicrobial Resistance NSF Research Traineeship Program Coordinator

Zayid Suber
Program Coordinator
(540) 231-3980