Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water


Photo credit: Jessica Hochreiter/Arizona State University. Arizona State University
associate professor of engineering Amy Landis (right) led research to
study the feasibility of restoring soils degraded by industrial wastes
and other pollutants to growing bioenergy crops.

Last week, the National Council for Science and the Environment held its 16th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment, which brought together leaders from research, business and government to focus attention on a pressing challenge: the nexus of food, energy and water. The conference offered a great opportunity to collaborate and exchange ideas to better manage these resources vital to life.

Do you know that by 2050, the U.S. population is expected to grow to 400 million and the global population to 9 billion, bringing greater demands for food, energy and water? Innovations at the Nexus of Food-Energy-Water Systems, an NSF initiative better known as INFEWS, aims to integrate interdisciplinary research and scientific understanding into decision-making to improve system management and function.

How can we accomplish this? By creating methodologies for effective data and technology integration throughout the systems that provide societies with food, energy and water. By supporting fundamental science and engineering to create solutions for using water, land and energy resources effectively. And by developing the next generation of researchers and workers.

In 2015, NSF held 17 workshops on a diverse range of topics within the FEWS nexus and funded 25 supplements to existing grants. And, in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges, NSF opened the second annual Community College Innovation Challenge, whose theme this year is the food-energy-water nexus. The challenge provided students the opportunity to submit STEM-based solutions to real-world FEWS-related issues of local and global concern.