New Water for Food Institute grants support student researchers

· 3 min read

New Water for Food Institute grants support student researchers

Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska

Seven UNL faculty have been awarded grants from the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute to provide stipends to students and postdoctoral fellows working on projects that contribute to a more water and food secure world. In total, the institute awarded 10 grants to University of Nebraska faculty.

The grants program, which is in its first year, supports interdisciplinary faculty research while enriching the education of students who will one day be scientific leaders in the effort to feed the world’s growing population with limited natural resources.

The annual grants, totaling $310,000, will support two postdoctoral fellows and 11 graduate and undergraduate student research assistantships during the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The projects range from testing the drought tolerance of wheat roots through gene expression to deploying robots for aerial water sampling.

“Education is an essential part of the institute’s mission,” said Christopher Neale, director of research. “We are excited to be able to roll out our student support program and help faculty and their students pursue projects that will advance the University of Nebraska’s efforts to provide solutions for global water and food security.”

UNL faculty receiving the awards are:

  • Francisco Munoz-Arriola, assistant professor in hydroinformatics and integrated hydrology, UNL Biological Systems Engineering and School of Natural Resources, for the project: Software Development for Water and Agriculture-resources Data and Information Access: The Case of the Water for Food Interoperability System (WaFIS). Postdoctoral fellow: Lorena Castro Garcia.

  • Robert Oglesby, professor in climate modeling, climate change and variability, UNL Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, for the project: Leveraging DWFI Resources to Address Water for Agriculture in Latin America Under a Changing Climate. Postdoctoral fellow: Rachindra Mawalagedara.

  • Carrick Detweiler, assistant professor, UNL Computer Science and Engineering, for the project: Enabling Sub-Surface Aerial Water Sampling for Water Management and Quality Analysis. Graduate student: James Higgins, UNL Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

  • Trenton Franz, assistant professor of hydrogeophysics, UNL School of Natural Resources, for the project: Improving soil moisture monitoring in agricultural systems using hydrogeophysics. Graduate student: William Avery, UNL School of Natural Resources.

  • Patricio Grassini, assistant professor, UNL Agronomy & Horticulture, for the project: Revealing the links between crop production, irrigation and inter-annual changes in groundwater levels in Nebraska. Graduate student: Kate Boone, UNL Agronomy & Horticulture.

  • Harkamal Walia, assistant professor, UNL Agronomy & Horticulture, for the project: Improving drought tolerance of wheat through more adaptive roots. Ph.D. student: Sarah Blecha, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture.

  • Michael Farrell, assistant professor of practice, UNL Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication, for the Platte Basin Time Lapse Project. Undergraduate students: Mariah R. Lundgren, Environmental Studies, UNL School of Natural Resources and Joseph W. Arneson, Water Science, UNL School of Natural Resources.

Other grant recipients included Vijendra Boken and Julie Shaffer from University of Nebraska Kearney and Alan Kolok from University of Nebraska Medical Center.

For more information on the grants, click here.

For more information on the institute’s student support program, contact research and outreach coordinator Rachael Herpel at or 402-472-4977. You may also visit the website.

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