LINCOLN, Neb. — Water is a vital necessity for food, ecosystems and life. Because of its global importance, the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute (WFI) and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) have partnered with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Government of India and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) to advance collaborative water sciences research between PhD students and post-doc researchers from India and the United States. The Water Advanced Research and Innovation Fellowship Program is a dynamic and transformative 3-year renewable mentorship program for individuals who want to pursue advanced academic research and water-related careers.
“We are delighted to partner with our colleagues in India to develop this learning exchange,” said UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman. “With UNL’s strong history in water science, the participants will gain the knowledge and experience they need to tackle the enormous challenges surrounding water sustainability. And, we look forward to the advanced education our students will gain when they travel to India for the program.”
Secretary-DST, Ashutosh Sharma said “Nurturing capabilities to develop and apply scientific tools and methodologies are critical to address prevalent and emerging water challenges in India. WARI Fellowships, first of a kind Indo-US Capacity Building Program in the area of water research is an initial step to leverage expertise and facilities of University of Nebraska-Lincoln for exposing best and brightest Indian research professionals to world class research.”
Roberto Lenton, Founding Executive Director of the Water for Food Institute added, “This is an outstanding opportunity to connect Indian students and researchers with the leadership and staff at the Water for Food Institute and the expert faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.”
Executive Director of IUSSTF, Rajiv Sharma said, “Water has emerged as an important area for collaboration between India and US. The WARI fellowships will not only help in capacity development in India but also forge new linkages between Indian and US researchers to pursue joint research in this area which has huge societal impact.”
Program discussions about this partnership began with conversations in 2012 between UNL’s Vice Chancellor for Research Prem Paul and Vice Provost Tom Farrell, and Secretary Ramasami of the Department of Science and Technology. With the WARI initiative the Government of India seeks to provide opportunities for high performing Indian graduate students and scientists to gain exposure and access to world-class research facilities; promote research and capacity building in the area of water; encourage and motivate outstanding individuals to take up research as a career path; and, pave the way for the next generation of scientists and technologists from India and the United States to interact with each other, fostering long-term R&D linkages and collaborations. The Department of Science and Technology of India is sponsoring the program for five Ph.D. student interns and five post-doctoral fellows each year for three years. UNL and WFI are providing supplementary support for participants, as well as advising on candidate selection. The leadership at UNL and the University of Nebraska are working to identify funding for UNL students and scientists to have a reciprocal experience in India.
The first year, WARI interns and fellows will pursue advanced research in the following areas:
- Ecological and human health impacts of pollutants and emerging contaminants
- Groundwater quality assessment and management
- Health impacts of water quality
- Laboratory methods to support water-related research
- Methodologies to help remediate current and future contamination threats
- Methods for measuring water quality
- Non-point source pollution and rural drinking water quality
- Remote sensing applications for monitoring water quantity and quality
- Understanding and protecting water quality
- Wastewater quality and management
- Water pollution
- Water supply and sanitation
The program officially launched with a reception at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. on September 22, 2015, hosted by UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman and attended by leaders of the four collaborating institutions and a range of partner organizations.
A joint WARI selection committee is reviewing applications and will select the first group of participants in the next months. These participants will begin their internships and fellowships at UNL in March 2016.