NSF announces $55M toward national research priorities; intersection of food, energy and water systems
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has made 11 awards totaling $55 million aimed at building research capacity to develop new innovations at the intersection of food, energy and water systems and to address fundamental questions about the brain.
The cooperative agreements are through NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) as part of its Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-2 investment strategy. RII Track-2 builds national research strength by initiating collaborations across institutions in two or more EPSCoR jurisdictions. These four-year awards support 27 institutions in 18 eligible jurisdictions.
The RII Track-2 awards support research while also requiring award recipients to invest in developing a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce—particularly of early-career faculty researchers.
|Research at the nexus of food, energy and water|
|Montana State University||Benjamin Poulter||Sustainable socio-economic, ecological, and technological scenarios for achieving global climate stabilization through negative CO2 emission policies
This project establishes a coalition to examine the consequences of an economy based on bioenergy and "carbon capture and sequestration" (the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide from power plants and at other sites so the greenhouse gas is kept out of the atmosphere) in the Upper Missouri River Basin. The team, which includes researchers from Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota, seeks to identify a framework of carbon mitigation strategies that would minimize conflicts with food security and clean energy production priorities.
|Murray State University||David White||Sensing and Educating the Nexus to Sustain Ecosystems (SENSE)
This project expands and enhances the capabilities of Kentucky and West Virginia to study surface water, providing a foundation for understanding how agriculture and hydropower production affect water quality. Experts in engineering and aquatic ecology will install more than 30 new measurement systems in hydropower reservoirs and agricultural watersheds across the two states. Studies will focus on identifying the presence, extent and timing of harmful algal blooms as they relate to water quality.
|University of Southern Mississippi||Jason Azoulay||Emergent Polymer Sensing Technologies for Gulf Coast Water Quality Monitoring
This collaboration between Mississippi and Alabama develops advanced polymer-based sensing technologies to detect pollutants in Gulf Coast aquatic ecosystems. Assessing and managing sustainable resource utilization in the Gulf Coast requires rapidly deployable, highly sensitive, specific sensors. The project combines approaches from chemistry, biochemistry, geochemistry, marine science, computational science, polymer science, and engineering to achieve this vision.
|University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez||Nelson Cardona-Martinez||Center for a Sustainable Water, Energy, and Food Nexus (SusWEF)
SusWEF initiates a strategic research and education partnership between researchers in Puerto Rico and South Carolina to address problems at the nexus of food, energy and water systems. The project aims to identify technologies that will lead to more sustainable agricultural practices, increased energy efficiency, and improved soil and water quality.
|University of Kansas Center for Research Inc.||Edward Peltier||Improving Water Management, Treatment and Recovery in Oil and Gas Production
More than 20 billion barrels of water are contaminated in the United States each year as a byproduct of unconventional oil and gas production. This project establishes a collaboration between researchers in Kansas and West Virginia to develop innovations to reduce the need for fresh water in oil and gas production and more safely reuse or dispose of the water used in those operations.
|Jackson State University||Hongtao Yu||Collaborative Research and Education on Synergized Transformational Solar Chemical Looping and Photo-Ultrasonic Renewable Biomass Refinery
This consortium among researchers in Delaware, Mississippi and Wyoming studies the technological potential of novel biochar-based materials for carbon dioxide capture, water purification, and food production. Biochar, a plant-matter based charcoal, is a byproduct of some biofuel production. This project would develop technologies to improve the sustainability of biofuel production and use.
|Louisiana State University Agricultural Center||Dorin Boldor||Assembling Successful Structures: Lignin Beads for Sustainability of Food, Energy, and Water Systems
This partnership between Louisiana and Kentucky researchers seeks to produce advanced materials from lignin, a class of organic polymers found abundantly in plants and particularly in wood. Its goals include deriving value-added chemicals, byproducts of biofuel production that can serve as alternatives for chemicals on which industry depends. The interdisciplinary team of chemists and engineers will perform laboratory studies and computer simulations to provide the foundation for future technologies to enhance sustainable food, energy and water systems.