April 14, 2024

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WESEP: Wind Energy Science, Engineering, and Policy

Faculty Information





  • Only US citizens or permanent residents are eligible for the IGERT. Since we are using the IGERT to fund only applicants to the WESEP Ph.D. degree program, the admission requirements of the WESEP degree program also apply to IGERT fellow eligibility. We require that applicants to the WESEP degree program have a calculus and physics background in order to be considered for admission. Although we do not have a strict criterion regarding GPA in previous degree programs, most accepted applicants have GPAs above 3.5, good GRE scores, solid letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose that indicates an ability to succeed in an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program.
  • WESEP Admission Committee: There is a WESEP admission committee comprised of John Jackman (chair), Jim McCalley, Partha Sarkar, and Gene Takle. Once a student is accepted to the WESEP Ph.D. degree program, Dr. McCalley (as PI of the IGERT) makes recommendations regarding award of an IGERT fellowship which are subject to approval of the WESEP Admission Committee.
  • Students already in a Ph.D. degree program are not considered for an IGERT award. The basis of this is that the IGERT is intended to attract students into Ph.D. programs, and so offering the award to students already in a Ph.D. program is not in accordance with NSF’s intent.
  • There must be a willing faculty advisor for any potential IGERT fellow that agrees to the responsibility of funding the student during the periods of their degree program when the IGERT funding is not being provided.


  • The WESEP Admission Committee accepts applicants to the WESEP program throughout the year. A great deal of advertising occurs by communicating to various target universities, via flyers sent by email, via phone calls to program advisors and faculty, and via visits by ISU faculty and by ISU IGERT fellows.
  • High-performing ISU undergraduates and MS students are also good recruiting targets.
  • Faculty are strongly encouraged to recruit. If you have a student you think would be a strong candidate, please do encourage  them to apply. If it is a student you would like to advise while he/she does a wind energy-related Ph.D., then communicate that to one of the members of the WESEP admission committee.


  • IGERT funding is for half the expected time to degree. This means that students having an MS degree on entering the program get 2.0 years of funding (since we expect them to graduate in 4.0 years) whereas “direct-entry” students (direct from a BS program) get 2.5 years of funding. All of this assumes reasonable progress is being made by the IGERT fellow in his or her degree program.
  • The IGERT award will expire on August 31, 2018, assuming NSF’s continued willingness to give us two years of no-cost extension (which they informally have told me they would give since we did not have our first IGERT fellow until one year after the award was made). Funds from this award will not be able to be used past this date, and so this could have the unintended effect of reducing an IGERT fellow  student’s IGERT support if they have not received their full 2 years or 2.5 years of funding by that date.
  • The funding from the IGERT is for $2500/month plus “cost of education” which includes half of the tuition and all of their student services fees. The other half of the tuition is provided by the graduate college.  This rate of $2500/month is $500-$600/month higher than most departmental graduate research assistantships (GRA), an intentional feature of the IGERT to facilitate recruiting of US citizens/permanent residents into Ph.D. programs.
  • In the offer letters provided to IGERT fellows, they are promised funding for their entire Ph.D. degree program subject to reasonable progress in the form of either the IGERT $2500/month or a regular GRA; the responsibility of providing funding needed beyond what is provided by the IGERT falls to the advising faculty.
  • The 2 or 2.5 years of IGERT funding can be used anytime during the IGERT fellow’s Ph.D. degree program (as long as it is before August 2018 as indicated above), a feature that provides faculty advisors some flexibility. Since the salary from the IGERT differs from the normal GRA salary, faculty advisors are encouraged to coordinate with their IGERT fellows regarding when to use IGERT funds and when to use GRA.
  • When IGERT fellows are shifted to GRAs, they  not only see reduced salary but they also see increased expenses in that they must also pay their student activities fees, which is about $540/semester.


  • All IGERT fellows can be financially supported in an “international visit” at a foreign university, research institution, or company. Although this is not a hard requirement, it is very strongly encouraged.
  • So far, five IGERT fellows have done this, and in all cases they are reporting highly positive experiences.
  • There is a list of international partner institutions on the IGERT/WESEP website. However, these visits may be any university, research institution, or company, as long as it is outside the US and has some relation to the IGERT fellow’s wind energy research.
  • Visits may occur for any amount of time that makes sense, but the expectation is that the time should be sufficient for the student to establish a relationship with his or her hosts. So far, all students have stayed between 1.5 and 4 months.
  • This is an excellent opportunity for the IGERT fellow to expand their perspectives while developing international relationships that can be of value during their Ph.D. work as well as beyond.
  • These visits are also good opportunities for faculty advisors to extend their international relationships through the interaction of the IGERT fellow.
  • IGERT funds will support expenses that would not be otherwise incurred if the IGERT fellow were in Ames. This means the following are supported: all travel, the overseas accommodations, and some subsistence.
  • IGERT fellows do not have to be on IGERT support in order to be funded for an international visit.
  • The student’s normal salary (either from IGERT or from GRA) and their research efforts are both expected to continue during the time of the visit.


  • IGERT funds are available to support IGERT fellow attendance at conferences; generally the support is provided on condition that the total cost be shared between the IGERT and the faculty advisor.


  • Many of the WESEP Ph.D. students are pursuing double majors. This is completely acceptable. Although it requires that the student satisfy the requirements of both programs, the actual “cost” is usually not heavy, perhaps 1-2 additional courses. However, this can vary from one “second-major” to another. Such students may need to take two qualifier examinations, depending on the requirements of “second major” program. Such students need take only one preliminary exam, write one dissertation, and make one final defense.
  • A new wind energy laboratory called the Wind Energy Systems Laboratory (WESL) has been developed in the past year and is available to support WESEP student research interests. Contact Nick David at ndavid@iastate.edu if you are interested to use this lab.
  • All WESEP students are asked to present a poster at the Wind Energy Symposium on September 28/29, 2015.
  • All IGERT Fellows are expected to continue enrolling in WESEP 594 throughout their degree program. A schedule of past, present, and future WESEP 594 activities may be found here: http://home.eng.iastate.edu/~jdm/wesep594/.