Water for Food

Water for Food Institute announces student, postdoctoral fellow support grants

Aug. 29, 2014, LINCOLN, Neb.––Ten University of Nebraska faculty have been awarded grants from the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska to provide stipends to students and postdoctoral fellows working on projects that contribute to a more water and food secure world.

The grants program, in its inaugural 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 one-year 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.”

Faculty from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska Medical Center, University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska at Kearney received awards:

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.

Alan Kolok, interim director, Center for Environmental Health and Toxicology, UNMC College of Public Health, and professor, UNO Biology, for the project to study the pressure that agrichemicals exert on water resources. Ph.D. student: Jonathan Ali, UNMC College of Public Health.

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.

Vijendra Boken, professor, UNK Geography and Earth Science, for the project: Studying the Link between the Soil Moisture Estimates and Global Warming for Nebraska Using Satellite Data. Undergraduate students: Spencer A. Sydow, UNK Geography and Earth Science and Emily S. Kaslon, UNK Geography and Earth Science.

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.

Julie Shaffer, professor, UNK Biology, for a project to characterize abiotic and biotic components of lakes in the Willow Creek drainage of Brown County, Nebraska. Two undergraduate students: Alyssa Dillon, UNK Biology Department and Seth Springer, UNK Biology Department.

For more information on the institute’s student support program, contact research and outreach coordinator Rachael Herpel at rherpel@nebraska.edu or (402) 472-4977. You may also visit http://waterforfood.nebraska.edu/student-and-postdoctoral-support-programs/.

The Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska is a research, education and policy analysis institute committed to ensuring a water and food secure world without compromising the use of water for other human and environmental needs. For more information, visit: http://waterforfood.nebraska.edu.

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