Female ScientistsNorthern Arizona University will play a key role in attracting and mentoring innovative and entrepreneurial scholars to be a part of a new fellowship program designed to bring more top-tier, postdoctoral scientists and engineers to Arizona.

Science Foundation Arizona unveiled its new Bisgrove Scholars program this week to help pave the way for more high-quality, high-wage jobs in the state. The initiative will enable Arizona to produce and support the kind of research talent that will effect discovery and lead the state toward global competitiveness.

“The Bisgrove Scholars will help put Arizona on the map as a research hub, where young and talented scientists and engineers are welcomed and encouraged to innovate,” said William Harris, president and chief executive officer of Science Foundation Arizona.

The program will sponsor as many as seven scholars throughout the state each year. Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University each has been granted funding for the initial group of scholars, who will be recruited to begin the two-year program in the fall or spring. In turn, each institution has committed to providing interdisciplinary mentorship and career development opportunities to the scholars. Efforts will include intensive career mentoring within the universities as well as links to industries and the community that enable participants to stay on top of trends and relevant scientific discoveries.

NAU will initially seek two Bisgrove scholars with expertise in the environmental science and sustainability disciplines.

“Our new School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability and the long-standing Sustainable Energy Solutions group will provide exactly the kind of high-profile, interdisciplinary research setting that can attract talented researchers and problem-solvers,” explained Laura Huenneke, vice president for Research at NAU. “These programs have world-class researchers and faculty, but sometimes don’t get the attention they deserve because they are not Ph.D.-granting departments. Being able to recruit excellent postdoctoral fellows will boost NAU’s capacity to carry out the research in sustainability that our region so desperately needs.”

NAU President John Haeger said he is committed to the sustainability arena because it aligns so closely with the university’s commitment to regional stewardship, as well as with NAU’s historical strength in environmental research.

“The Bisgrove Scholars program will help accelerate the university’s work in environmental and ecological science and sustainability that is vital to Arizona’s future,” he said. “NAU is well positioned to make this a highly visible and effective contribution to excellence and innovation in the general area of sustainable systems for the citizens and economy of Arizona.”

The program is named for Jerry Bisgrove, a Phoenix businessman and philanthropist who donated $25 million to Science Foundation Arizona in 2007 to help create a stronger culture for science and engineering entrepreneurship in Arizona.

The Bisgrove Scholars program will be supported for five years by Science Foundation Arizona, after which an endowment will be established to sustain the program