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NSF-IRES: Water Quality, Sanitation, and  Climate Change Research in Ghana

Overview   |   Program    |   Financial Support

This project will engage US undergraduate and graduate students across STEM disciplines, including geosciences, environmental sciences, social sciences, and engineering, in high-impact water quality, sanitation, and climate change research in Cape Coast, Ghana, West Africa. Student research activities will address three major themes: 1) Onsite sanitation effects on coastal groundwater quality; 2) Effects of sea level rise on coastal groundwater quality; and 3) Citizen science. The project will be executed in collaboration with faculty and students from Shippensburg University, University of South Florida, and the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, as well as teachers and students in a local high school in Cape Coast, Ghana.  

The project will give participating US students important interdisciplinary, real-world problem-solving, and collaborative skills, as they experience first-hand the critical water and sanitation challenges in a developing country. Through their interactions with local researchers and communities, the students will further gain knowledge of the social-cultural underpinnings that complicate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) challenges in the developing world and how to propose solutions from a global context.

This project also targets to broaden the participation of underrepresented groups in international STEM research and enhance their standing in STEM disciplines.

The project is being implemented from 2024 to 2027.

View our collaborative partner's introduction video


This project involves recruiting 15 motivated and high-achieving students (5 per year) over the 3-year project period and engaging them in international water and sanitation research in Ghana. Participants will be recruited during the spring semester of each year following a rigorous selection process. Each cohort of participants will undergo four sets of activities: pre-departure online training (1 week), onsite pre-research activities in Cape coast, Ghana (3 days), 5 weeks of research activities in Ghana, and post-travel activities at USF (4 days). 

Online training sessions will focus on the theories of in-situ and laboratory water quality investigations, onsite sanitation systems, climate change/sea level rise, and an orientation on matters related to students’ travel abroad. The pre-research activities in Ghana will include basic hands-on lab training so that the IRES participants get the basic skills needed for their field work. Post project activities will include report writing and presentation of their study findings, and reflections on their international experience. Students will be mentored by Ship, USF, and UCC faculty throughout their involvement in the project.

Financial Support

The program will provide funding for US students’ international travel, local travel, and housing during their stay in Ghana. It will also provide students with stipends and a food allowance.


Contact us at

Contact the NSF-IRES Shippensburg University Project Leader Shippensburg University 1871 Old Main Dr. Shippensburg, PA 17257 Phone: 717-477-1548