Population growth, climate change, urbanization, and development are bringing unprecedented challenges to meeting the world’s diverse needs for water and food. The Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab, J-WAFS, was established in the fall of 2014 as an Institute-wide effort to bring MIT’s unique strengths to bear on these problems.
J-WAFS: a Nexus for Water and Food Research at MIT
The Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) was created to coordinate and promote water and food research at MIT, emphasizing the deployment of effective technologies, programs, and policies that will have a measurable and international impact as humankind adapts to a rapidly expanding and evolving population on a changing planet.
- By spearheading the efforts of MIT's faculty, labs, and centers to work towards solutions for water and food security that are energy-efficient and environmentally benign, J-WAFS promotes the development and commercialization of the next generation of technologies that can be broadly applied to food safety, urban water supply, agriculture and irrigation, and watershed protection.
- By collaborating with domestic and international partners, J-WAFS brings MIT’s expertise to bear on issues that arise in specific regional contexts, spanning diverse societies, environments, and economies, and our programs help build local human capacity, to produce long-term networks of innovators and decision makers.
- By supporting graduate student-driven water and food research and business communities on campus – through fellowships, conference sponsorship, and other mentoring and assistance – J-WAFS is strengthening an energized community around water and food related research at MIT while developing the next generation’s capacity to address these issues.
Water and food-related research has long been pursued at MIT. In the late-1800s, Ellen Swallow Richards carried out research on sanitation and water quality, leading to the establishment in Massachusetts of the first drinking water standards in America. Samuel Cate Prescott, at one time a student of Richards, conducted pioneering research on the bacterial contamination of food, developed technologies such as dehydration and quick-frozen foods, and went on to become head of the Department of Biology and Public Health and the first Dean of the School of Science at MIT. And John T. Dorrance, an MIT graduate, invented condensed soup. Since then, research in water and food has taken place in many schools and departments across the Institute. A generous gift from MIT alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel in 2014 supported the creation of J-WAFS, allowing better coordination, greater focus, and increased funding to support these efforts. J-WAFS serves to stimulate and continue MIT’s impact, making meaningful worldwide contributions to these critical challenges.