News

J-WAFS and MIT News

2017 News

Water sourced from desert air – and it's no mirage

An article published in The National, an Abu Dhabi-based publication, covers a collaborative project of Profs. Evelyn Wang and Mircea Dinca funded by J-WAFS. Wang and Dinca are building a device that can extract water from air, even in the most arid climates. This piece outlines the project and how the technology could, when deployed, contribute to improving water security and access in the MENAT region.

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Image of prototype water from air technology

Climate change to deplete some US water basins, reduce irrigated crop yields

A new study published in the journal Earth's Future by MIT climate scientists, economists, and agriculture experts finds that certain hotspots in the country will experience severe reductions in crop yields by 2050, due to climate change’s impact on irrigation. The paper's first author, Elodie Blanc of MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, says of the results, “in the Southwest, water availability for irrigation is already a concern. If we mitigate, this could prevent added stress associated with climate change... but it will be even worse in the future if we don’t do anything at all.”

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Image of earth in a water droplet

2016 Food Prize winner Kevin Kung named a “Solver" in MIT's 2016 Carbon Contributions Challenge

Kevin Kung, of Safi Organics, intends to help rural farmers produce local fertilizer so that they don’t have to pay to import it. His startup, which won a Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Prize in 2016, uses technologies that to turn local agricultural residues in Kenya into an effective, high-yield fertilizer. Kevin was selected as a "Solver" in MIT Solve's 2016 Carbon Contributions Challenge because of this carbon-negative solution that his startup has created.

Read more about Kevin and Safi Organics...

Kevin Kung portrait

Three MIT students selected for inaugural J-WAFS fellowships for water solutions

J-WAFS is pleased to announce the selection of three MIT PhD students who have been awarded J-WAFS fellowships for water solutions for the 2017-2018 academic year. This is the inaugural year for both of our fellowships: the Rasikbhai L. Meswani Fellowship for Water Solutions and the J-WAFS Graduate Student Fellowship Program.

Learn more about the 2017-2018 fellows...

J-WAFS logo

J-WAFS director John Lienhard on desalination technologies 

On June 22nd, 2017, J-WAFS director, MIT's Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water and Food John Lienhard, published an Op-Ed in The Mark News about how oceans could provide the answer to the world’s growing water crisis. In it, Lienhard describes the role desalination plays in ensuring a sustainable water supply for growing populations across the globe.

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The Mark News logo

MIT contributions to food system futures at 2017 EAT Stockholm Food Forum

In a presentation at the 2017 EAT Stockholm Food Forum on June 12th, 2017, J-WAFS director, MIT's Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water and Food John Lienhard, spoke about how science and technology make contributions that are integral to building sustainable food systems, now and into the future. The speech included examples of J-WAFS funded research and innovation in food and agriculture.  

View the speech online...

J-WAFS Director at EAT Stockholm 2017

MIT PhD student recognized for work on water supply planning

J-WAFS Meswani Fellow Sarah Fletcher, who is an MIT PhD student in the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society and affiliated with the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, was recently recognized for her innovative work on water supply planning.  She received the "best presentation" award at the Technology Management and Policy Graduate Consortium in June in Stony Brook, New York, for her project entitled “Flexible water supply planning under multiple uncertainties: A differentiated approach".

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MIT110Kwinners

MIT student startup wins an Infy Maker Award

PipeGuard, an MIT student startup that has one several MIT entrepreneurship awards this year, was counted among the 25 winners from across the US of the Infosys Foundation's 2017 Infy Maker Awards.   PipeGuard has developed a sensor that can be sent through water pipes to detect leaks.  It's a technology that could radically reduce the amount of waste in urban water systems. 

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MIT110Kwinners

Two water solutions-based projects take home awards at MIT's 100K Entrepreneurship Competition

Two startups focused on water solutions took home cash prizes from MIT's annual $100K Entrepreneurship Competition in May. The $100K Competition, now in its 28th year, has helped to launch more than 160 companies founded by student entrepreneurs at MIT. The $5000 Audience Choice award went to change:WATER Labs a team of MIT researchers and others making toilets that can condense waste into smaller bulk for easier transport in areas where people live without indoor plumbing. PipeGuard, an MIT team developing a sensor that can be sent through water pipes to detect leaks, won a $10,000 Booz Allen Hamilton data prize.

More information and registration...

MIT110Kwinners

Explore Technology Evaluation in Global Development via edX

Six MIT professors have teamed up to produce a six-week online course via edX where students will learn the fundamentals of technology evaluation for global development.  The course, beginning June 1, 2017, will cover topics ranging from the history of appropriative technology to technology suitability, sustainability, and methods for evaluating results. 

More information and registration...

Krithika Ramchander portrait

J-WAFS: How smart investment is forging answers to one of mankind’s biggest challenges

In a Spring 2017 article in Opening Doors, the online magazine of Abdul Latif Jameel, J-WAFS’ director John Lienhard outlines the challenges in food and water security posed by population growth and climate change in the coming years. The article focuses specifically on how the Middle East could be impacted, and calls for energy efficient and sustainable regionally-specific solutions. Leinhard highlights ways that J-WAFS is contributing to this work, featuring three recent Seed and Solutions grant projects that could provide valuable support to the water and food-related issues facing the Middle East: Prof. Gang Chen’s solar-powered desalination still; Prof. Colette Heald’s data modeling that analyzes the effect of particulate matter air pollution on global crop yields, and Prof. Michael Strano’s food contaminant detection sensor.

The article also describes how MIT, through J-WAFS, is leading the global conversation on water scarcity and food security, highlighting both a recent expert workshop on desalination produced with the Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance (GCWDA) and a new Research Affiliate agreement Xylem Inc., a global water technology company with operations in more than 150 countries. Click here to read the article...

Hands washing in water

Krithika Ramchander wins 1st place in MIT Mechanical Engineering de Florez Competition

Mechanical engineering PhD student Krithika Ramchander won first place for graduate science in the 2017 MIT Mechanical Engineering de Florez Competition.  Ramchander's award was for "Development of low cost water filters using plant xylem," a J-WAFS Solutions project on which she has been working with PIs Professor Rohit Karnik, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Amy Smith, founding director of MIT's D-Lab and senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Read more about the J-WAFS Solutions project...

Krithika Ramchander portrait

J-WAFS awards $1.4 million in third round of seed grant funding

J-WAFS awards $1.4 million in third round of seed grant funding to support innovative research at MIT related to water and food that will have a measurable and international impact as humankind adapts to a rapidly expanding population on a changing planet. The seven winning projects include various fertilizer technologies, technologies for water supply, and policy-oriented research addressing the uptake of irrigation technologies in Africa.

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Irrigation in Senegal

New technology could offer cheaper, faster food testing

Arab News, the largest English language newspaper in Saudi Arabia, highlights Prof. Timothy Swager's J-WAFS Solutions project, which is a new safety test for foodborne pathogens.

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Arab News daily paper logo

A new dam on the Nile reveals threats from warming

Climate change could play a role in exacerbating water conflict in Africa, likely worsening geopolitical wrangling over issues like the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The dam will allow the Ethiopian government more control over flood prevention and help the approximately three-fourths of Ethiopians who currently don't have access to electricity, however downstream countries like Egypt and Sudan are concerned that it will impede their water supply. Kenneth Strzepek draws on his J-WAFS-funded collaborative work on climate modeling with Susan Solomon in comments provided in the article: "The climate will change over time, it's not going to be an abrupt change. What that means is that any sharing agreements are going to have to be monitored constantly..."

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Nile river

MIT researchers develop new way to clear pollutants from water

Researchers funded by a 2016 J-WAFS Solutions Grant have developed a new method for removing even extremely low levels of unwanted compounds from water. The new method relies on an electrochemical process to selectively remove organic contaminants such as pesticides, chemical waste products, and pharmaceuticals.

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Sensors in water

Teams tackling crop spoilage, pesticide pollution, and farming efficiency win annual Rabobank prize

At the second annual Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize competition, an event supported by J-WAFS, seven finalist startups and teams from MIT and other universities pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges, for a chance to win prizes totaling $25,000. The pitches addressed some of today’s most pressing issues in the food and agriculture industries.

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MIT winning team

MIT enters Academic Partnership with EAT Foundation

In April, 2017, MIT joined the EAT Foundation as an Academic Partner. MIT Vice President for Research Maria T. Zuber will join the EAT Advisory Board, which includes heads or senior executives from EAT’s academic partner institutions in addition to world-renowned experts from the scientific disciplines that intersect with food system challenges. J-WAFS will be closely involved in this affiliation, with J-WAFS' director John Lienhard presenting in June 2017 at the EAT's 2017 Stockholm Food Forum.

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small plant growing in dirt with drip irrigation tube

Watering the world

New design cuts costs, energy needs for drip irrigation, bringing the systems within reach for more farmers.

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small plant growing in dirt with drip irrigation tube

Graphene holds up under high pressure

Used in filtration membranes, ultrathin material could help make desalination more productive.

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atomic-force microscopy image of a nanoporous graphene membrane

Nile faces greater variability

Researchers at MIT have found that climate change may drastically increase the variability in Nile’s annual output. Climate change could lead to overall increase in river flow, but more droughts and floods, study shows.

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Nile River seen from above

MIT Desalination startup PV Pure featured on WGBH’s “Under the Radar”

Boston’s WGBH radio host Callie Crossley featured MIT researcher Huda Elasaad, co-founder and chief scientist for PV Pure a startup that is marketing an affordable solar-powered purified water system in the 4/21/17 edition of her program “Under the Radar”. PV Pure and WrightGrid were highlighted as examples of green tech startups who serve remote populations across the globe.

Listen to the full program here.

diagram of solar grid connected to water purifier

MIT graduate student Natasha Wright wins a Lemelson-MIT prize for a solar-powered desalination system for off-grid water production in India and Gaza

Natasha Wright of MIT, $15,000 Lemelson-MIT “Eat it!” Graduate Winner for a solar-powered desalination system for off-grid water production in India and Gaza, and a usage sensor for household water treatment devices. 
Wright, a grad student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering who also works with the MIT Tata Center and a student of J-WAFS faculty member Amos Winter, invented a solar-powered desalination system for off-grid water production in communities in India and Gaza that reduces the required amount of energy and the amount of wasted water.

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Picture of Natasha Wright in lab

Scientists from MIT and Berkeley discover a way to harvest fresh water from air

Severe water shortages already affect many regions around the world, and are expected to get much worse as the population grows and the climate heats up. However, a new technology developed by scientists at MIT and the University of California at Berkeley offers a solution – a novel, passive solar device that can obtain clean, fresh water almost anywhere on Earth using a variety of porous material known as a metal-organic framework (MOF). The findings are reported in the journal Science by a team including MIT associate professor of mechanical engineering Evelyn Wang, MIT postdoc Sameer Rao, graduate student Hyunho Kim, research scientists Sungwoo Yang and Shankar Narayanan (currently at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), and alumnus Ari Umans SM ’15. The Berkeley co-authors include graduate student Eugene Kapustin, project scientist Hiroyasu Furukawa, and professor of chemistry Omar Yaghi.

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Picture of solar water harvesting device

J-WAFS Solutions project could offer cheaper, faster food testing using smartphone technology

A new safety test for foodborne pathogens is in development by J-WAFS Solutions grantee Timothy Swager, John D. MacArthur Professor of Chemistry at MIT, and his lab. A paper published on March 23rd in the journal ACS Central Science, details this new way to perform food safety sensing – using a novel type of liquid droplet that can bind to bacterial proteins. This interaction, which can be detected by either the naked eye or a smartphone, could offer a much faster and cheaper alternative to existing food safety tests. The lead author of this paper is Qifan Zhang, a graduate student in Swager’s lab. Co-authors are Suchol Savagatrup, an MIT postdoc; Peter Seeberger, director of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Germany; Paulina Kaplonek, a graduate student at the Max Planck Institute, and Prof. Swager.

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Picture of water droplets on a smartphone

MIT scientists find climate change to worsen drought, diminish corn yields in Africa

In a paper published on March 15 in the online journal Earth’s Future, MIT scientists found that climate change will likely worsen drought conditions in parts of Africa, dramatically reshaping the production of maize throughout sub-Saharan Africa as global temperatures rise over the next century. The paper was authored by Amy Dale, a postdoc in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), along with co-authors Kenneth Strzepek, research scientist in MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Susan Solomon, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies in EAPS, Megan Lickley, an EAPS graduate student, and Charles Fant, a former postdoc.

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Picture of drought in maize yields

The next-generation water cooler

MIT spinout Bevi believes it can cut the world’s use of bottled drinks with a smart beverage machine of the same name that delivers high quality, flavored water — straight from the tap. Dubbed by some media as an “ecofriendly water cooler,” Bevi is a smart beverage-dispensing machine — made with high-quality components inspired by medical devices — that filters and adds carbonation and customizable flavors to tap water in offices, gyms, and hotels. MIT Sloan School of Management alumnus Sean Grundy MBA ’13 co-founded the startup and co-developed the machines with classmate Frank Lee MBA ’13 and Rhode Island School of Design graduate Eliza Becton.

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Pictured is the Bevi smart beverage-dispensing machine

New evaluation report by CITE on post-harvest technologies in Uganda

MIT researchers have just released a new report evaluating various post-harvest storage technologies sold as a part of a special operation run by the World Food Programme in Uganda to better understand which technologies are best poised for scale. Details of the study design and findings are available on the CITE website

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MIT students/CITE research assistants Emily Gooding and Mark Brennan examine a metal post-harvest storage silo as part of a study with the World Food Program in Uganda.

MIT research scientist C. Adam Schlosser assesses long-term risks to regional water and energy systems

Adam Schlosser along with his colleagues are applying Monte Carlo methods to determine the odds of plausible future water stress scenarios that can help guide policymakers and decision-makers on how best to “weight the dice” to minimize risk to lives and infrastructure.

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C. Adam Schlosser, MIT research scientist and Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change deputy director

Seven teams selected for Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize

MIT Food and Agriculture Club announced the seven finalist teams chosen for the second Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation prize.

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Reducing spoilage in food aid shipments

Large-scale tests compare damage from insects and moisture using a variety of containers...

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Pictured are food aid bags in a Texas warehouse.

2016 News

Batch desalination configuration bests standard reverse osmosis approach

Researchers develop a new way to create more clean water with less energy, thanks to clever timing....

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PhD candidate Emily Tow and postdoc David David Warsinger co-led a study proposing new designs for reverse osmosis desalination that significantly exceed the energy efficiency of state-of-the-art techniques. An experimental prototype is behind them.

Xylem becomes first J-WAFS Research Affiliate

Global water technology company signs agreement with J-WAFS for directed research and support of student activities and other water-related initiatives...

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Xylem CEO Patrick Decker, MIT Associate Provost Karen Gleason, and J-WAFS Director John Lienhard celebrate the signing of the J-WAFS Research Affiliate agreement

How to achieve “green” desalination

J-WAFS convenes expert workshop to explore ways to reduce or eliminate the carbon footprint of seawater desalination plants...

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aerial view of Sorek desalination plant in Israel

J-WAFS Seed Grant researchers launch large-scale collaboration with the Walmart Foundation on food safety in China

Two J-WAFS-funded research teams working on food safety have partnered with the Walmart Foundation to build on this research, developing new models and robust testing capabilities that will help strengthen the food system in China and support safe food supply chain design, best practices, and government oversight...

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raw market vegetables

MIT Launches New Venture for World-Changing Entrepreneurs

In his announcement of the launch of The Engine -- an accelerator that will provide funding, space, and expertise for new ventures -- MIT President Rafael Reif emphasized MIT's intent to deliver serious technological solutions to urgent global challenges – like clean water, climate change, and sustainable energy ....

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MIT Pres. Reif makes announcement

J-WAFS-funded PI Rohit Karnik, associate professor of mechanical engineering, seeks sustainable solutions through nanotechnology

Engineer’s designs may help purify water, diagnose disease in remote regions of world...

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MIT-USAID program releases technology evaluation of water test kits

Study of water test kits used in Gujarat, India, assesses suitability, scalability, and sustainability...

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Reducing runoff pollution by making spray droplets less bouncy

MIT researchers find a way to make pesticides stick to leaves instead of bouncing off...

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J-WAFS Solutions program awards $750k in commercialization grants.

Four new projects and one renewal receive $150,000 in funding for 2016-2017...

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MechEConnects summer 2016 issue highlights the global water crisis and some of the solutions being developed in MechE.

The quest for clean water gets attention from the Mechanical Engineering Department’s faculty, students, and alumni...

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Talking Shop: Professor John H. Lienhard V interview in MechEConnects

J-WAFS director John Lienhard discusses water as a resource in crisis...

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MIT Students Win Recognition at Water Sector Conferences

Doctoral Students Emily Tow and Quantum Wei Win Awards for Best Poster and Best Presentation...

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Student winners holding award plaques at IDA World Congress

Technology Review article: China’s Massive Effort to Purify Seawater Is Drying Up

Stalled projects and underperforming plants have hampered China’s desalination plans...

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J-WAFS PI Valerie Karplus named one of 2016’s "Best 40 Under 40 Profs"

Sloan professor Valerie Karplus is bringing her expertise on air pollution, climate change, and China’s energy system to cross-border, multi-disciplinary research teams working at the intersection of technology, innovation, the natural sciences, and engineering...

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MIT professor Amos Winter named "Game Changer" innovator for work on clean water for the developing world.

The Boston Globe named 46 innovators making a difference in lives around the world, citing Amos Winter's work with graduate student Natasha Wright on a low-cost technology for purifying salty ground water...

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MIT Water Club president awarded Fulbright grant to work on climate policy.

Matthew Willner from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning is the first MIT student to win a Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship...

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Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel

Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel earns MIT Alumni Association's highest honor.

J-WAFS benefactor honored for history of service and philanthropy at MIT...

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Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel

J-WAFS announces 2016 recipients of seed grant funding.

Principal investigators will receive grants of up to $100,000 per year for up to two years for innovative research on food and water challenges...

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Water Night winners

“Do You Know Where Water Comes From?”: An interview with Fair Observer.

J-WAFS executive director Renee Robins sits down with Fair Observer to discuss the need for a fresh perspective on water and what J-WAFS is doing to help…

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Water Night winners

J-WAFS conference reflects growing interest in food and water research on campus

The MIT community turned out in force, along with attendees from corporate, government, and non-profit sectors.
April 27-28, 2016

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Water Night winners

Winners announced in the first annual Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize.

GoMango, the team of MIT and Harvard University students that took home the first place prize, will strive to make India’s temperature-controlled supply chain for food more affordable. This team was just one of several to be changing the way we tackle some of the largest food and agribusiness issues.
April 28, 2016

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Water Night winners

The MIT Water Innovation Prize hosted its final pitch showcase, with nine finalist teams competing.

The night culminated with two teams winning the Veraqua Prize for water quality challenges in China, and a three-way tie for the overall prize...
April 8, 2016

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Water Night winners

MIT Water Night 2016 awards prizes in five poster categories...

MIT Water Night packed Walker Memorial with over 200 attendees. Following a great keynote by Dr. Matt Silver (SM '05, PhD '10 CEO Cambrian Innovation), prizes were awarded in five poster categories, and the first-ever Freshman Challenge was launched.
March 11, 2016

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Water Night winners

Boston Globe J-WAFS Op-Ed: Flint water crisis is a wake-up call to reinvest in our water infrastructure

For weeks, the tragedy of the drinking water contamination in Flint has dominated the news. J-WAFS director John Lienhard along with MIT professor Andrew Whittle and former senior lecturer Windsor Sung wrote an op-ed piece looking at lessons for New England...
March 4, 2016

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Flint water warning sign

 

News Archive - 2015

Envisioning the future of water for 900 million people

Research from an MIT Tata Center team led by Professor James Wescoat is making strategic planning of India's rural water systems possible for the first time...
November 20, 2015

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research team and local partners at waterworks in India

Grow your own way

Study: Trade may not help a warming planet fight its farming failures...
November 20, 2015

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rice paddy in Burma

Shocking new way to get the salt out

MIT team invents efficient shockwave-based process for desalination of water...
November 12, 2015

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fracking water holding pit

MIT startup brings urban agriculture indoors

Co-founders of the Somerville-based startup Grove enable people to grow their own produce with an intelligent indoor gardening appliance...
November 10, 2015

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Indoor gardening appliance

Students challenged to drive change with new Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize

J-WAFS receives a gift from Rabobank in support of a new student innovation competition, to be run by the MIT Food and Agriculture Club...
October 9, 2015

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hydroponic seedlings

J-WAFS Solutions awards two $150,000 commercialization grants

Renewable grants awarded to PIs in materials science and engineering, chemical engineering, and biology...
October 9, 2015

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Girl drinking water

MIT-USAID program releases evaluation of water filters

Study of water filters used in Indian homes assesses suitability, scalability, and sustainability...
October 6, 2015

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Researchers interview local residents in India

New York Times J-WAFS Op-Ed: "How to Share Water Along the Nile"

Following the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam expert worskhop convened by J-WAFS in the fall of 2014, J-WAFS director John Lienhard and MIT research scientist Kenneth Strzepek penned an op-ed piece based on the workshop report...
August 28, 2015

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Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Damn map

MIT strongly represented at International Desalination World Conference

At the recent International Desalination World Conference, MIT was well-represented in the awards.
August 25, 2015

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International Desalination World Congress 2015

Toward cheaper water treatment

MIT spinout makes treating, recycling highly contaminated oilfield water more economical.
July 15, 2015

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Gradient Corp Factory, June 2015

J-WAFS awards $1.8 million in first round of seed grant funding

Nine grants of $200,000 for two years, overhead free, have been awarded to Principal Investigators from 11 MIT departments, representing all five schools.
July 2, 2015

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Natasha Wright, June 2015

Powering desalination with the sun

PhD student Natasha Wright makes water safe to drink for rural, off-grid Indian villages.
June 22, 2015

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Natasha Wright, June 2015

Spectrum summer issue focuses on "Water + Food" at MIT

MIT is playing a key role in helping to ensure the sustainability of human civilization into the future. Across the Institute, and across the world, faculty and students are pursuing transformative research to address the urgent challenges of water and food.
June 5, 2015

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Spectrum, June 2015

New program aims to commercialize innovations in food and water

“J-WAFS Solutions” will provide seed funding for promising new approaches to water, food supply.
April 30, 2015

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J-WAFS Solutions

International experts analyze impacts of Ethiopian dam

Report from conference at MIT addresses potential effects of huge construction project.
April 22, 2015

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Ethiopian dam map

 

News Archive - 2014

Searching for global water and food solutions

John Lienhard leads coordinated interdisciplinary research efforts to confront resource challenges at the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab.
November 4, 2014

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John Lienhard

MIT alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel gives major gift to solve urgent challenges in world food and water security

Professor John Lienhard will lead the new laboratory.
May 6, 2014

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Rice in hands