NU FEWS targets food, energy, water nexus

· 3 min read

NU FEWS targets food, energy, water nexus

Many of the most complex challenges facing the world lie at the intersection of our food, energy and water systems. How do we sustain these crucial systems in the face of a changing climate and a population expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050?

NU FEWS, a new university-wide effort, aims to position UNL to address this global issue. It is being organized by the Office of Research and Economic Development, in collaboration with the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Human Sciences, and Engineering, to generate new ideas and interdisciplinary research teams focused on this challenge.

In August, nearly 200 faculty attended a briefing at Nebraska Innovation Campus on Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems, known as INFEWS, a new multi-agency focus area for federal funding led by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Faculty learned of UNL’s plans to pursue a new process for developing innovative project concepts and organizing new research teams in this area. NU FEWS is that process.

The goal of NU FEWS is to involve faculty from every discipline on campus in discussing and generating novel ideas for INFEWS proposals.

It kicks off Oct. 22 with the first of six NU FEWS + Conversations, led by Andy Burnett from Knowinnovation, our partner in NU FEWS. Burnett will introduce Knowinnovation’s collaborative process for accelerating interdisciplinary innovation that has been adopted by NSF and other scientific agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The time and location will be announced soon.

Five NU FEWS + Conversations will follow, featuring faculty discussing different dimensions of the FEWS nexus – think short TED talks with lunch included. These meetings are intended for faculty from any discipline. Faculty from disciplines that might seem far outside the FEWS nexus are especially encouraged to attend.

Faculty also are invited to attend the NU FEWS Scoping Workshop in early February. This one-day event led by Knowinnovation is designed to produce novel and interesting research questions.

“This workshop needs the power of ideas from faculty in diverse disciplines to succeed, so we hope you will consider attending,” said Prem Paul, vice chancellor for research and economic development.

Faculty are encouraged to mark their calendars for these events and watch for invitations and more information as this initiative develops. Updates will be posted on the NU FEWS website.

“NU FEWS needs your knowledge, creativity and ideas,” Paul said.

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