J-WAFS and MIT News

2019 News

Reuse, refill, replenish

The MIT Office of Sustainability is emphasizing the “reuse” in reusable water bottles. They teamed up with MIT Dining, the Office of the First Year, J-WAFS, and more to hand out free reusable water bottles to incoming MIT students that signed a pledge to use them at least ten times.


John Lienhard holding water bottle in front of filling station.

Malden Works for Waterfront Equity and Resilience wins first ever Norman B. Leventhal City Prize

The urban coalition Malden Works for Waterfront Equity and Resilience has been awarded $100,000 to transform the city’s waterfront space. This collaborative effort between MIT researchers and the Malden community seeks to “restore, rejuvenate, and recreate” the river to create an equitable and resilient Malden.


Cody Friesen on roof next to solar panels that pull water out of air

MIT alumnus Cody Friesen awarded Lemelson-MIT prize

He has developed solar panels that can pull water from air drier than the desert and designed batteries that provide power during an electrical emergency all while offsetting CO2 emissions. For his dedication to innovating for the betterment of all, Friesen has been awarded the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT prize.


Cody Friesen on roof next to solar panels that pull water out of air

J-WAFS announces 2019 Solutions Grantees

J-WAFS announces funding for two new projects as well as a renewal of three past Solutions grant projects. These grants aid in the commercialization of technology that helps in E. coli detection in the drinking water in Nepal, protects the citrus industry from citrus greening disease, and more.


Left side of image depicts water sample being tested in vial and right side depicts citrus fruit infected with citrus greening disease

WatchTower Robotics wins Urban Water Challenge

Congratulations to the MIT startup WatchTower Robotics for winning the 2019 Imagine H2O Urban Water Challenge! The startup has previously won the 2017 Water Innovation Prize at MIT and is using robotics to combat leaky pipes in cities worldwide.


Tyler Mantel in front of river

Xylem makes Fortune’s Change the World list second year in a row

Congratulations to J-WAFS’ Research Affiliate Xylem, Inc. on making Fortune's Change the World list for the second year in a row. The nomination acknowledges Xylem as a driver of the digital transformation of the water industry, while aiming to advance water security for all.


Fortune’s Change the World 2019 logo

Shrinking the pores of desalination

With global freshwater shortages on the horizon, desalination has become vital tool in the water sector. In an ongoing effort to optimize the process, MIT researchers – some who have also been funded by J-WAFS – are tackling this big problem by thinking small. Their one atom-thick graphene membrane has the potential to revolutionize desalination.


A blurred image of a grocery store aisle filled with processed food

How World War II led to Doritos

While processed foods are a staple in markets today, it wasn’t always that way. MIT Professor Deborah Fitzgerald digs into the recent history of processed food and details how global issues altered our grocery shelves.


A blurred image of a grocery store aisle filled with processed food

The next generation is making a splash in water sector research

The MIT Water Club’s Samantha McBride and Anselmo judged the Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition in June. The event brings teens working on water research together to compete for this national prize.


High school student presents her project at 2019 Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition

Troubled waters and the path to success

Community Jameel chairman Fady Jameel gives insight into the severity of the water scarcity crisis and the work being done to combat it, including the work that J-WAFS is doing to transform global water systems and step towards a cleaner future.


Fady Jameel

Planning for future climates demands flexible infrastructure

City planners face a unique challenge: they must design infrastructure that is long-lasting and efficient in the face of the climate crisis without wasting resources by overbuilding. J-WAFS 2018 fellow, Dr. Sarah Fletcher, has a solution that can revitalize future water infrastructure design.


Men building water infrastructure by river in Africa

Marcus Karel, food science pioneer and professor emeritus of chemical engineering, dies at 91

Marcus Karl PhD ’60, an MIT professor whose work embodies the spirit of innovation of food systems research at MIT, was a pioneer and leader in the field of food science. His research advanced food packaging and food transport technology on the ground and in space, aiding NASA in developing food systems for space travel.


Marcus Karel winning ICEF 11 Lifetime Achievement award

Following the current: MIT examines water consumption sustainability

In the face of the climate crisis, everyone must lend a hand. MIT has accepted the challenge to mitigate water consumption sustainability on campus in a cross-institutional effort to shrink its water footprint. To do so, the Water Club and offices such as J-WAFS, MITOS, and more are teaming up to build a more sustainable MIT.


MIT Water Club at Cambridge Arts River Festival

How scientists are harvesting fog to secure the world’s water supply

Researchers are looking to the skies to find new supplies of fresh water. The latest technology: harvesting fog. From Morocco to MIT, see how these innovators are capturing fog to combat fresh water shortages.


Fog rolling over hills in Morocco

Diving into Desalination: Can We Make Ocean Water Drinkable?

The demand for fresh water is on the rise, leading more scientists to look to the ocean as a solution. There’s only one problem: salt. In this educational video by the American Chemical Society, J-WAFS director and desalination expert, John Lienhard, helps to answer the question, “Can we really drink the ocean?”


Reverse osmosis desalination plant in San Diego County

A Nuclear Solution to the Fresh Water Shortage

Access to fresh drinking water is a pressing issue in the face of rising populations and resource depletion. Desalination helps, but is highly energy intensive. J-WAFS director and PI John H Lienhard V and his lab are looking for solutions, including nuclear energy. Learn what happens when desalination goes nuclear.


A dried out cornfield in California's drought

Wonder How to Minimize Your Food Waste? Edible Silk!

In this video short, hear from J-WAFS PI Benedetto Marelli about the next revolution in food preservation. Using silk to reduce wasted crops as well as increase the shelf life of grocery store meat and produce, his technologies could help producers meet the food needs of an ever-increasing global population.


Benedetto Marelli dips food into a silk bath

BBC series "Follow the Food" features Kripa Varanasi's J-WAFS Solutions project

Kripa Varanasi’s J-WAFS Solutions-project, “Reducing Runoff and Environmental Impact of Agriculture Sprays,” will be featured on the BBC series “Follow the Food – Sustainable Food Systems.” The episode will air Friday, July 19 at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on BBC World News. Varanasi’s project is featured at the 10:55 minute mark, where he and his team demonstrate their novel technology for creating more efficient agriculture sprays.


Maher Damak explains how spray improves pesticide application to BBC reporter

Twelve MIT students accept 2019 Fulbright Fellowships

Twelve MIT students have been chosen as winners for the 2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Fellowship Program. Among these twelve is Jonars Spielberg—a J-WAFS funded doctoral student in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Spielberg will be investigating how the relationship between bureaucrats and farmers impacts agricultural policy in heavily irrigated regions of Senegal.


MIT student winners of 2019 Fulbright Fellowship

Can Local Rocks Grow More Crops?

MIT’s Antoine Allanore (DMSE) and Davide Ciceri, previously a postdoc in Allanore’s lab have received an Elsevier Award for a recent article detailing their work to develop local fertilizer in Africa. This J-WAFS funded project delves into the potential of using local resources that contain potassium, such as feldspar, as fertilizer rather than importing foreign fertilizers. The awarded paper addresses ways that new potash-independent fertilizer formulations could help Africa’s agriculture industry achieve self-sufficiency.


Women picking tea leaves in Africa

Seven MIT faculty win 2019 Presidential Early Career Awards

Seven MIT faculty were chosen for the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. Among these seven, two faculty--Benedetto Marelli of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Yogesh Surendranath of the Department of Chemistry--are J-WAFS funded PIs. For scientists and engineers who are early in their careers, this is the highest award given by the U.S. government.


MIT faculty winners of 2019 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers

Building a silk road for agriculture

J-WAFS PI Benedetto Marelli is coating food in silk to prevent spoilage and extend shelf life. This research could ameliorate food waste, which is critical in order to meet food demands for a growing population. Marelli and his colleagues are bringing this biopolymer technology to the food industry with their startup Cambridge Crops.


J-WAFS PI Benedetto Marelli

Testing Milk Quality in India

Mechanical engineering PhD student Pranay Jain is developing milk safety assessment instruments for use by smallholder farmers. The project was funded by a 2017-18 J-WAFS Solutions grant and supported by a Legatum Center fellowship.


Mechanical engineering PhD student Pranay Jain

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum honors MIT D-Lab with National Design Award

The MIT D-Lab has won the National Design Award in the Corporate and Institutional Achievement category. The award recognizes an institution that uses design to improve quality of life. J-WAFS has funded D-Lab researchers on a variety of projects, including a wood-based water filter and policy evaluation of irrigation practices in Senegal.


Women in India creating water filter prototype

Building the tools of the next manufacturing revolution

John Hart, professor of mechanical engineering and three-time J-WAFS PI, researches advanced materials and 3D printing. His work includes a sensor to measure soil health, a J-WAFS Solutions-funded project.


J-WAFS PI John Hart

Rabobank Announces Winners of MIT Food and Agribusiness Prize

Rabobank and MIT announced the winners of the fourth annual Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize, a business plan competition for startups developed by MIT Food and Agriculture Club students. Winners included Gramhal, a mobile solution for managing smallholder farmer sales in India, and Velaron, a startup aiming to create a digital marketplace for seafood.


Rabobank Logo of figure stepping on compass

PhD students awarded J-WAFS fellowships for water solutions

J-WAFS announced its winners of the Fellowship for Water Solutions and 2019-2020 J-WAFS Graduate Student Fellow. The fellowships go to Sahil Shah, a Mechanical Engineering PhD student researching electrodialysis for desalination use, and Peter Godart, a Mechanical Engineering PhD student using aluminum waste to power desalination and produce energy.


Graduate students Sahil Shah and Peter Godart

Getting the oil out of water

Professor Gregory Rutledge and colleagues developed a novel method for detecting how oil droplets interact with membranes used to separate oil from water. This technique could be used to develop more effective membranes for cleaning oil spills, fracking water, and other applications.


Image of fluorescent red filter fibers and green oil droplets

J-WAFS Newsletter: June 2019

The June 2019 newsletter contains a variety of funding announcements. Learn about these awardees' exciting research, and take a closer look at the work of J-WAFS fellow Andrea Beck.


J-WAFS June Newsletter header

Newsletter Highlight: Untangling the social dynamics of water

J-WAFS 2018-19 Fellow Andrea Beck is researching the history and success factors of water utility partnerships in Africa. These peer-to-peer relationships create better urban sanitation practices across a wide variety of countries.


J-WAFS Fellow Andrea Deck by the Charles River

Empowering African farmers with data

Researchers from the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society aims to help farmers increase yields and decrease risk through an information sharing platform. The platform would share data from technologically advanced farms with banks and other farmers to encourage investment in irrigation systems, new fertilizers, and other tools.


Technological analysis of crop

Two-time J-WAFS-funded researcher awarded Echoing Green grant

Kevin Kung, recipient of the J-WAFS Solutions and the Water and Food Projects in India grants, is deploying technology to rural farmers that converts crop residues into useful chemicals. Kung is a recipient of the 2019 Echoing Green grant.


Kung posing with prototype

Finding value in nature and ensuring green growth

Gretchen Daily, Bing Professor of Environmental Science at Stanford University and co-founder and director of the Natural Capital Project, delivered a lecture on environmental preservation and the valuation of ecosystem services. Daily’s research quantifies how ecosystems benefit agriculture, water, and food production.


Gretchen Daily

J-WAFS announces seven new seed grants

J-WAFS’ fifth round of seed grants will provide over $1 million in funding to seven research projects. The projects span all five schools at MIT.


Seed grant winners

Rabobank Announces Winners of 2019 MIT Food & Agribusiness Prize

Rabobank and MIT announced the prize winners of the 2019 Rabobank-MIT Food & Agribusiness Innovation Prize, which supports early-stage startups developed by student-led teams. Rabobank sponsors the competition in partnership with J-WAFS and the MIT Food and Agriculture Club.


Rabobank logo

Making it Real: MIT Engineering Class Works on Real-World Problems, Including Food

A MIT engineering laboratory course works on scientific problems, such as developing sustainable alternatives to palm oil, posed by companies or research labs at MIT.


Students in the research class

Eleven MIT Students - Including One Funded by J-WAFS - Accept 2019 Fulbright Fellowships

Eleven undergraduate seniors and graduate students have been awarded 2019-2020 Fulbright Fellowships. Recipients include Jonars Spielberg, a J-WAFS-funded student.


2019 MIT Fulbright awardees

Water Innovation Pitch Night Winners Approach Water/Food Nexus Topics

The 2019 Water Innovation Pitch Night, held on April 18th, awarded prize grants to three novel startups. The prize is partly sponsored by J-WAFS.


audience at event

New seed fund to address food, water, and agriculture in India

MIT J-WAFS and IIT Ropar launched a new seed fund to support research between faculty and scientists from MIT and IIT Ropar. The fund will provide grants for early-stage research related to water, food, and agriculture.


signees at agreement event

J-WAFS May 2019 Newsletter

There are new J-WAFS grants and news items to peruse in this month’s newsletter. In addition, read about an exciting institutional partnership in India, and browse our other updates.


May newsletter

Study demonstrates seagrass’ strong potential for curbing erosion

J-WAFS PI Heidi Nepf led a study analyzing seagrass behavior in moving water. The study will help predict the suitability of seagrass for coastal restoration projects and carbon sequestration efforts.


Simulation of seagrass movement

Six suborbital research payloads from MIT fly to space and back

The Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative launched six research projects, including two beehives, into sustained microgravity environments. Studying the bees’ behavior may help scientists integrate bees into future space colonies as crop pollinators.


Researchers in front of the launcher holding the six modules

Mobile solution for farmers and plan for global shrimp marketplace win agribusiness prize

The Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize competition, sponsored in part by J-WAFS, awarded prize money to two startups addressing agriculture issues. The teams addressed smallholder farmer crop selling and an online marketplace for the shrimp trade.


2019 prize winners

IIT Ropar Inks Agreement with J-WAFS and MIT

IIT Ropar has signed an agreement with J-WAFS to develop seed fund grants. The grants, produced in partnership with the MIT-India program, will support early-stage research and involve collaboration between the two entities.


cartoon figure typing

MIT Researchers Develop New, Systematic Approach for Designing Long-Term Water Infrastructure Amid Climate Change Uncertainty

J-WAFS-funded Fellow Sarah Fletcher led a study analyzing best approaches for building water infrastructure, such as dams, in the face of climate uncertainty. The planning framework is being incorporated in cities such as Mombasa, Kenya. AZO Cleantech covered this research.


Kenyan workers build a monitoring station on river

College inventors awarded 2019 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize, including water and food technology

The 2019 MIT-Lemelson Student Prize honored inventors from several fields. Inventions include a low-cost water filtration device and a closed-loop system that converts food waste into renewable energy.


2019 MIT-Lemelson Prize Winners

Water Innovation Prize goes to startups targeting methane and wastewater

The 2019 Water Innovation Prize, sponsored in part by J-WAFS, awarded funding to three startups in the water sector. The companies tackled rural irrigation, wastewater filtration, and methane emissions.


2019 Water Innovation Prize

J-WAFS’ PIs John Lienhard and Susan Murcott honored with two other MIT profs for commitment to student mentorship

J-WAFS director John Lienhard and funded PI Susan Murcott were honored as Committed to Caring mentors by the Office of Graduate Education. Lienhard and Murcott were recognized for affirming student success, creating spaces for all students, and fostering work-life balance.


Four mentor winners

How J-WAFS funding is changing the future of fertilizers in Africa

MIT professor Antoine Allanore received a 2017 J-WAFS Seed Grant to develop potash-independent fertilizers for use by African farmers and, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Amherst, perform tests. Additionally, his research team has published recommendations for the development of new fertilizers for the African continent that can be developed locally.


Antoine Allanore headshot

Revisited superheated steam, but not as we know it

2016 J-WAFS Solutions grant recipient Professor Gang Chen developed a novel method for creating superheated steam. The technology is viable for desalination, sanitization, wastewater treatment, and other applications.


Gang Chen

J-WAFS Solutions spinout company seeks to transform food safety testing

A spinout company has launched out of a recent J-WAFS Solutions-funded project that uses technology developed by J-WAFS PIs Tim Swager and Alexander Klibanov to quickly and cheaply detect food contamination.


closeup of invention

J-WAFS April 2019 Newsletter

There are a variety of spinout company stories, innovation prizes, and funding opportunities in the April newsletter. In addition, take a closer look at a food safety startup company that uses technology developed with J-WAFS funding support.


J-WAFS April Newsletter header

Chernobyl’s Disastrous Cover-up is a Warning for the Next Nuclear Age

Radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster spread far beyond the explosion site and has numerous health impacts around the world. The Guardian notes that these questions will be important to answer as countries turn to nuclear power to combat climate change.


Artist's rendering of nuclear explosion

Getting to the bottom of the “boiling crisis”

Researchers at MIT have furthered scientific understanding of the boiling crisis. This breakthrough could have applications in nuclear power, computer chips, and traffic regulation.


heatmap of experiment

Pinpointing Risk in Food Suppy Chains

Professor Retsef Levi presented his research optimizing agriculture supply chains at a lunchtime presentation held by the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative. Levi has received J-WAFS funding for his research.


Retsef Levi presenting his research

Ten Big Global Challenges Technology Could Solve

One of the world’s largest technology challenges is energy-efficient desalination, which would provide drinking water at low cost. J-WAFS director John Lienhard has completed research on desalination.


10 challenges as icons

Green Engineered Plants of the Future Developed by J-WAFS PI Michael Strano

Researchers, including J-WAFS-funded PI Michael Strano, are studying nanomaterials in plants. This area of research could enable plants to detect drought, become lights, and perform other useful functions.


Lotus plant

MIT spinout Cambridge Crops wins a 2019 AgFunder AgriFood Tech Innovation Award

Cambridge Crops, a spinout that first won a 2017 Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize, was just selected as a winner of yet another innovation competition: the 2019 AgFunder AgriFood Tech Innovation prize that awards venture capital to twelve startups in the food and agriculture sector.


2019 Ag Innovation Awards

The Climate Optimist

J-WAFS PI Susan Solomon, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science, discovered how CFCs created the Antarctic ozone hole and in 2002 became scientific cochair for the IPCC report on global climate change. J-WAFS funding supported this project modeling climate uncertainties in Africa to project climate’s influence on crop stresses.


Susan Solomon

Leading to Green

Find out how graduate student Janelle Heslop helps businesses achieve sustainability and efficiency through MIT’s LGO program. Heslop is currently co-managing the Water Club’s 2019 Water Innovation Prize and has been involved in past J-WAFS events.


Janelle Heslop

J-WAFS March 2019 Newsletter

There is an abundance of events and funding opportunities to peruse in the March 2019 newsletter. In addition, take a deep dive into the research of J-WAFS fellow Krithika Ramchander, and browse our other articles and updates.


March 2019 Newsletter

An Evening of Inspiration at MIT Water Night

The MIT Water Club, sponsored by J-WAFS, held their ninth annual Water Night on February 26th. Students and professionals engaged with a variety of scientific research, artistic works, and interactive media related to water issues.


Poster presentations at event

An Easier Way to Engineer Plants

Michael Strano, J-WAFS-funded PI, has developed a new method of genetic engineering to create hardier plants. Their technique works across many different plant species, and could be especially useful for crops such as cereal grains, which can be vulnerable to extreme climate scenarios.


Yellow fluorescent proteins expressed in an arugula leaf

This Bioengineering Startup Just Raised $90 Million To Make Your Veggie Burger Taste Better

Bioengineering startup Ginkgo Bioworks raised $90 million to manufacture ingredients that help plant-based meat substitutes taste more authentic. The company is based off research conducted by Tom Knight, former MIT scientist at CSAIL.


Beetroot veggie burger

Investigating the Flint Water Crisis

The Flint, Michigan water crisis is a prominent example of water contamination in America. At a Water Club lunchtime presentation, one scientist shared his research into the role of THMs in Flint water, highlighting the importance of access to accurate research by media outlets that cover public health issues.


Joseph Goodwill with pipette

J-WAFS March 2019 Newsletter Highlight: Engineering Low-cost Filters for Clean Water Access

Krithika Ramchander, a 2018-2019 J-WAFS fellow, designed a low-cost water filter through a combination of MIT lab work and fieldwork in India. Communications and program manager Andi Sutton interviewed Ramchander to discuss her work and next steps for the filter.


Krithika leading discussion in India

J-WAFS Director John Lienhard and MIT Research Team Develop New Uses for Desalination Waste

Engineers at MIT, including J-WAFS director John Lienhard, have developed a process that turns desalination waste products into useful chemicals. As desalination plants are increasingly relied upon for water supplies around the world, innovations that improve their efficiency and decrease waste are increasingly necessary.


Desalination plant by the ocean

J-WAFS February 2019 Newsletter

Learn about three new funding opportunities, sign up for events, and read about J-WAFS’ fertilizer innovations for Africa.


February 2019 Newsletter

Event Recap: MIT Researchers on Tech for Smallholder Farmers

J-WAFS' February 8th panel, Smallholder Farming: Strategies for Sustainability and Resilience, brought together MIT researchers studying a variety of food and water issues that affect rural farmers, especially in the Global South.


Sharma at the panel

J-WAFS February 2019 Newsletter Highlight: Local rocks can yield more crops

Alternatives to potassium-based fertilizers may help farmers in the Global South sustainably grow food. A 2017 J-WAFS seed grant let Antoine Allanore, associate professor of metallurgy at MIT, test the viability of a new fertilizer alternative in partnership with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Allanore and his team developed a roadmap for future inquiry into fertilizer research, with a call for multidisciplinary work into this overlooked issue.


hands holding fertilizer

Building a silk road for agriculture

Silk proteins can be used in a wide variety of applications. J-WAFS-funded PI Benedetto Marelli is using silk to address food production issues, including coatings to extend the shelf life of produce and the durability of seeds. Marelli and other cofounders established a startup to scale the technologies and bring them to market.


Marelli headshot

Photo from MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab

Paranoid about tainted lettuce? There could be an app for that one day

Food-borne illnesses hospitalize 128,000 Americans every year. In response, researchers at the MIT Media Lab are developing technology that could someday let consumers scan food with their smartphones to detect toxic food and water. The technology could also be used by grocery stores or the CDC to develop a database of contaminated products.


technology developed by MIT

J-WAFS advances technologies for sustainable agriculture through J-WAFS Solutions

Numerous programs and funding mechanisms have evolved to ensure that new technologies and business models developed on campus can move beyond it to benefit the world. Among them is the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS), which brings its mission-driven concern for the safety, supply, efficiency, and accessibility of the planet’s water and food systems to MIT’s innovation ecosystem through the J-WAFS Solutions grant program.


almond tree sprayed with pesticide

Using architecture principles to make food production more sustainable

Energy efficiency is a concern in many fields. Associate professor of architecture Christoph Reinhart is using his physics and architecture background to investigate the efficiency of food production, and he is training MIT academics to investigate similar concerns worldwide.


professor and grad student discuss architecture

Can this startup make Tree House beer a little greener?

Craft breweries often have an outsized environmental impact on local water systems. MIT startup Cambrian Innovations is working with local Tree House Brewing to clean the brewery's wastewater, proving that biological wastewater treatment can be reliable and effective on a small scale.


beermaker adds salt to mash in the brewery

J-WAFS January 2019 Newsletter

Read about a variety of exciting J-WAFS projects, browse our upcoming events, and sign up for MIT classes on food and water issues.


Screenshot of Jan 2019 Newsletter

J-WAFS January 2019 Newsletter Highlight

“Climate change does not care about things that divide people—religion, race, or money. But solving climate change will require that people of all nationalities, all religions, and all races work together for a global solution.” Read the convocation address delivered by J-WAFS director, Professor John H. Lienhard V, at the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar.


Dr. Lienhard speaking at podium

2018 News

Oil and water: Studying pressing environmental dilemmas in the Middle East

Climate change and a shortage of drinking water in Saudi Arabia are taxing the area's oceans. Visiting assistant professor Maryam Rashed Alshehhi is creating the world's first oceanographic model of the Persian Gulf to assess human impact on these critical marine systems.


visiting researcher Alsehhi

Improving crop yields while conserving resources

PhD student Julia Sokol, who received honorable mention for this year’s J-WAFS Fellowship, is helping develop drip irrigation technologies that allow farmers to save water and energy.


Julia Sokol at lab bench

Sun-soaking device turns water into superheated steam

High-temperature steam might be used in remote regions to cook, clean, or sterilize medical equipment. The device, which was also supported by a J-WAFS Solutions grant, has the potential to be scaled up to generate enough drinking water for a family, or sterilize equipment for an operating room.


Steam-generating device on roof outside

Americans Have Planted So Much Corn That It’s Changing the Weather

A 2018 report issued by climate researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology claims to have solved the mystery and verified farmers’ suspicions: Namely, that large-scale corn production has changed the weather.


Irrigation system over field of corn

J-WAFS December 2018 Newsletter

Read about the latest happenings in the J-WAFS community, with a J-WAFS grant opportunity announcement, news on urban water scarcity, and innovation prizes galore!


J-WAFS December Newsletter Header

Urban water scarcity takes center stage at MIT Water Summit

Throughout the MIT Water Club’s November Water Summit, attendees from industry, government, and academia engaged in detailed discussions on how cities across the globe can meet water scarcity with resilience strategies.


Four boxes depicting attendees of MIT Water Summit

J-WAFS director delivers convocation address in India (video)

J-WAFS director, Professor John H. Lienhard V, attended the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar’s (IIT Ropar) seventh annual convocation in early December 2018. Professor Lienhard served as chief guest and convocation speaker.


J-WAFS director delivers convocation address in India

J-WAFS director, Professor John H. Lienhard V, attended the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar’s (IIT Ropar) seventh annual convocation in early December 2018. Professor Lienhard served as chief guest and convocation speaker.


John Lienhard shakes hands with student onstage

Understanding how plants use sunlight

Plants rely on the energy in sunlight to produce the nutrients they need. But they can absorb more energy than they can use. New studies out of MIT's chemistry department demonstrate how plant photoprotection works at the molecular level. The goal?  Find ways to engineer plants to use sunlight more efficiently to increase biomass for crops.


Professor Schlau-Cohen standing with graduate students

The Future of Food: Beating the heat with genome-edited crops

Read J-WAFS PI Dave Des Marais’ perspective on how genome-editing could support climate resilience in cereals as well as our director’s perspective on climate’s impact on the future of food in this article in Japan's The Mancini.


Rice plants covered in water droplets

J-WAFS Director John Lienhard elected as 2018 AAAS Fellow

MIT Faculty members Jacqueline Hewitt, Kristala Prather, and John Lienhard are elected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)


Three MIT AAAS Fellows

Rabobank-MIT Innovation Prize winner develops platform to help farmers out of extreme poverty

Social enterprise Ricult, winner of the J-WAFS-sponsored Rabobank-MIT prize in 2015, uses digital tools to empower rural farmers in developing countries. Ricult’s founders say their mobile platform has helped smallholder farmers in Pakistan and Thailand increase their crop yield by 50 percent, on average.


Farmer using Ricult app on smartphone

Putting food-safety detection in the hands of consumers

MIT Media Lab researchers have developed a wireless system that leverages the cheap RFID tags already on hundreds of billions of products to sense potential food contamination.


Cartoon depiction of wireless signal

Kishor Nayar makes Forbes' "30 under 30" list

J-WAFS-funded PhD student Kishor Nayar has been selected for inclusion in the Forbes' "30 Under 30" class of 2019 in the energy sector. Nayar is a recipient of a 2015 MIT Water Innovation Prize, and is developing a J-WAFS-funded desalination technology that can customize the use of ions for more efficient water and energy use by industrial hydroponic farms.


Kishor Nayar

Ellen Swallow Richards: A One-Woman Parade of Firsts

MIT’s first female student and professor, Ellen Swallow Richards, laid the groundwork for a revolution in understanding the interaction of nutrition, environment and health. Her work in the water industry led to significant advances in water quality and wastewater management.


Sepia photo featuring Ellen Swallow and other female scientists

J-WAFS November 2018 Newsletter Highlight

November's newsletter highlight features J-WAFS funded projects that represent the wide range of approaches that the MIT research community uses to solve a diverse set of challenges from food safety sensors to water filtration mechanisms and economic models to ethnography.


Rows of hanging plants in garden

J-WAFS Joins Climate Portal

The MIT Climate Portal serves as a community forum to connect people leading research and action on climate change through worldwide discussion. J-WAFS has joined this global community to share and collaborate in the food and water sectors.


Header of J-WAFS Climate Portal account

2018-2019 J-WAFS fellow published in peer-reviewed journal

2018-2019 J-WAFS fellow Andrea Beck has been published in the peer-reviewed journal WIREs Water. Learn more about her article titled "Water operator partnerships: Peer learning and the politics of solidarity in water and sanitation service provision".


Screenshot of published paper on database

J-WAFS - funded project highlighted in Landscape Architecture Magazine

J-WAFS funded project, led by PI's Alan Berger and Heidi Nepf, has been highlighted in the October 2018 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine. The article discusses the publicly accessible 'Design Guidelines for Urban Stormwater Wetlands' that the team published earlier this year.


Diagram of island structures

Collaboration runs through J-WAFS-funded projects

This September, the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab hosted two research workshops. Researchers from across MIT showcased J-WAFS-funded projects tackling critical water and food systems challenges from solutions-oriented perspectives.


Christopher Voigt presenting at podium

J-WAFS Newsletter: October 2018

Check out J-WAFS 2018 Newsletter for the latest happenings in the MIT food and water community. Learn more about our visiting scholar Md. Saidul Islam, design guidelines published by a J-WAFS funded project, our annual research workshop highlighting current and past projects, and more.


Hands picking leafy crops

Charting the Earth’s future for the 21st century

Based on a rigorous, integrated analysis of population and economic growth, technological change, Paris Agreement pledges and other factors, MIT’s 2018 Food, Water, Energy and Climate Outlook projects likely global and regional environmental changes over the course of this century. The report highlights challenges and opportunities for conserving natural resources and stabilizing the climate.


Tractor spraying pesticides on field

Replacing fertilizer with plant probiotics could slash greenhouse gases

Pivot Bio, a California-based biotechnology company, just received $70 million from Bill Gates’ energy fund and other investors to launch a commercial plant probiotic next year. The product has the potential to reduce the time and complexity of farmers’ workloads, as well as significantly decrease environmental pollution.


Crops in a field

J-WAFS Newsletter: Special Edition

Read our Special Edition newsletter which highlights our name change from the 'Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab' to the 'Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab.


J-WAFS Special Edition Newsletter header

From security to systems: J-WAFS name change reflects its breadth and impact

Reflecting the broader range of challenges embodied by the terms “food systems” and “water systems,” the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab announced that it is changing its name to the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab.


J-WAFS header featuring name change

J-WAFS: Securing Humankind's Vital Resources

We've produced a new video! Watch it online to learn more about the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab, the challenges that inspire us, and current projects underway.


Gloved hands working at bench

2017 J-WAFS Fellow Profiled by MIT News

Read about how Zijay Tang, 2017-2018 J-WAFS Fellow for Water Solutions, became interested in creating bio-materials and living water sensors.


Tang working in lab

J-WAFS Announces 2018 Solutions Grantees

These two newly funded MIT Solutions grant projects will aid commercialization of novel MIT technologies to test water safety and improve agricultural productivity in the Global South.


Water quality test kit

“Former Water Innovation Prize Winner Named on Forbes “30 under 30”

A 28-year-old MIT graduate has created a leak-detecting robot that could eliminate some of the 2 trillion gallons of wasted drinking water annually.


Wu working in lab

J-WAFS funded PI explores solutions to pesticide runoff

In addition to related research funded by J-WAFS, MIT professor Kripa Varanasi has discovered a key factor to ensure that agriculture sprays that carry fertilizer and pesticides hit and stick to plants efficiently: size. This development has the potential to significantly decrease pollution due to runoff.


Droplets dispersing through mesh

MIT Students Attend Stockholm World Water Week 2018

A look into the experiences of J-WAFS - funded students attending Stockholm World Water Week 2018


Attendees of World Water Week

Xylem makes Fortune 2018 list of “Change the World” companies 

J-WAFS Research Affiliate Xylem has been named one of the top 10 "Change the World" companies by Fortune magazine. The company has been recognized for its innovation and meaningful global impact.


Bright circle with lines extending out on blue background

Krithika Ramchander and Andrea Beck awarded J-WAFS fellowships for water solutions

Graduate students receive J-WAFS fellowships to support research focused on improving water access for rural as well as urban communities.


Ramchander and Beck

J-WAFS Newsletter Highlight: Water Management: Global Risks, Local Solutions

For nations without sufficient or reliable local water sources, the global market can be a ticket to food and water security. These nations import food and goods, and in doing so, access “virtual water”. The growing inter-dependence of nations through the virtual water trade, however, poses new risks.


Satellite shot of the Aral Sea

Urban storm flooding may no longer be a threat to cities

To combat the increasing numbers of U.S. cities that are suffering from urban storm flooding and damage, J-WAFS-funded MIT researchers released a report recently highlighted by Progrss, a website dedicated urban innovation. They discuss the report and how it illuminates the necessity for engineered greenspaces.


Man wading through knee-high water

China could face deadly heat waves due to climate change

A recent MIT study shows that China’s most populous and agriculturally important region may soon push the boundaries of habitability. Compared to previous studies that predict increased heatwaves in the Persian Gulf area and South Asia, researchers anticipate that China’s will be the deadliest.


Temperature maps of China

Fog may help quench world’s thirst

Two-thirds of the world’s population experience water shortages annually, and with climate change and growing populations, water supplies will need to be stretched even further. This cost-effective MIT solution could help these regions obtain water through fog.


Fog catchers on hilltops

MIT economists help solve problem of disappearing rice

In the late 1990’s, Indonesia set up a rice subsidy program known as Raskin, yet less than 50% of the 100 kilos distributed actually made it the intended households. MIT economists have found a solution: post-cards.


Man arranges sacks of rice in Indonesia

J-WAFS-funded project pulls drinking water out of thin air

Using only energy from the sun, a group of MIT researchers led by Evelyn Wang and Mircea Dinca, have developed a device that captures vapor in the air, and transforms it into liquid water. The device works for air with levels of humidity as low as 20%, where it could provide important relief in water scarce regions.


Wang and researchers test water device

J-WAFS PI Taylor Perron named EAPS associate department head

MIT Associate Professor Taylor Perron has been appointed associate department head for MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Perron, an expert in landscape evolution, will build upon the work of outgoing associate department head Tim Grove, supporting the EAPS education mission.


Associate Professor Taylor Perron

Study finds climate determines shapes of river basins

A recent study by MIT scientists reports that the shape of river basins, whether they’re long and thin or short an squat, is heavily influenced by the climate in which they are formed. This research, which shows a large-scale connection between hydrogeology and geomorphology, may help researchers identify ancient climates on Earth or other planets.


Rendering of river system in Oregon

A solution for urban storm flooding

MIT researchers have released a study detailing viable solutions to handle storm water runoff in urban areas. This research, funded by a J-WAFS seed grant, shows how engineered green spaces can capture and purify storm water while delivering ecosystem and recreational benefits. 


Rendering of LA with imagined green space and wetland

Study finds potential in brackish groundwater desalination

In a study led by J-WAFS director John Lienhard, MIT researchers have discovered a large, untapped water resource. Based on measurements taken from more than 100,000 wells in the U.S., the research team has shown how water-starved areas could benefit from desalinating sources other than seawater. 


Map of US with green dots depicting fresh water shortages and brackish groundwater reserves

MIT tech review recognizes J-WAFS solutions alum

Shreya Dave, CEO of Via Separations, a spin out company of a 2015 J-WAFS Solutions-funded project, was named one of MIT Technology Review's "35 Innovators Under 35." Selected from over 600 nominees, Dave joins other innovators from across the world in fields such as in AI, biomedicine electronics, energy, and more.


Shreya Dave

Discovering hidden stories in the Flint water crisis

Graduate student and Flint native Elena Sobrino studies the questions the ongoing water crisis has raised about science, power, and where to go from here -- as people continue to deal with not knowing if their water is safe or not.


PhD student Elena Sobrino in front of the Charles River

J-WAFS Newsletter Highlight: How Much Water Did You Eat Today?

For the novice, the term “virtual water” might conjure images of a computer game or the next digital currency, but virtual water is far from a cyber term. This term emerged as a way of highlighting the intertwined nature of food production and water. After all, drinking, washing, and domestic uses of water comprise only 10% of the water consumed across the globe. The rest, nearly 90%, is devoted to food production


Graphic depicting water imports and exports

2016 Rabobank-MIT Food Prize winner Ricult raises $1.85m to improve smallholder farmer profitability with digital tech platform

The third place winner in the first Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize, Ricult empowers over 1,000 smallholder farmers in Thailand and Pakistan through a platform that bridges credit, information, and access gaps. Since the 2016 Food Prize, Ricult has been backed by the Gates Foundation and recently raised $1.85 million in seed funding.


Back of rice farmer in field

MIT study shows climate action can limit Asia’s growing water shortages

A new MIT study shows that following the Paris accord could reduce the risk of severe water-access problems across Asia. It is published in the journal Environmental Research Letters by researchers in MIT's Joint Program: Xiang Gao, Adam Schlosser, Charles Fant, and Kenneth Strzepek, who also co-led this J-WAFS-funded project.


Image of dam in China

New system recovers fresh water from power plants

A new system devised by MIT engineers could provide a low-cost source of drinking water for parched cities around the world while also cutting power plant operating costs. This technology captures water evaporating from nuclear power plant cooling towers and is to be installed at MIT’s Central Utility Plant soon.


Kripa Varanasi and team at power plant site

How many people can China feed?

MIT graduate student Tiziana Smith studies links between water availability and crop yields in the world’s most populous country. This profile details her research, campus involvement, and lifelong commitment to water issues. She is also a recent recipient of a J-WAFS Travel Grant which she will use to attend 2018 Stockholm Water Week.


Tiziana Smith in front of MIT

J-WAFS awards over $1.3 million in fourth round of seed grant funding

Eleven principal investigators from six MIT departments will receive grants totaling over $1.3 million, overhead free, for research on food and water challenges.


plant seedling in a spray of water

J-WAFS PIs Seek Optimal Design for Urban Wetlands

Design guidelines for urban stormwater wetlands, released by an interdisciplinary MIT Pi team in April 2018 and developed with the support of a 2015 J-WAFS seed grant, are reviewed here by The Dirt blog.


drawing of kayak in water

Infinite Cooling wins Cleantech University Prize competition

MIT startup technology recaptures up to 80 percent of the water vapor that would normally escape from power plant cooling towers. Infinite Cooling technology could have a significant environmental and economic impact worldwide by greatly reducing high water usage by power plants.


Infinite Cooling researchers graduate student Karim Khalil, associate professor of mechanical engineering Kripa Varanasi, and graduate student Maher Damak

J-WAFS expert workshop explores intertwined future of food production, water, and climate

What do we know, and what remains unknown about the impact of climate change on food, water, and agriculture, now and in the future? To answer this question, J-WAFS gathered global specialists from around the world at a two-day workshop at MIT in May, 2018. Here, MIT News captures the knowledge that was shared, as well as areas with pressing need for further research.


earth made out of glass on a bed of moss and growing plants

Water flows through the 2018 World Economic Forum Global Risks Report

For the first time, water and food crises were among the top ten global risks identified by the World Economic Forum in their 2018 Global Risks Report. In this article for Opening Doors, J-WAFS provides an analysis, putting into context how our funded projects are seeking solutions that could reduce the potential impacts of the water and food crises and related global challenges that the WEF have identified.


Crisis sign posted in a large body of water

Prize-winning projects promote healthier eating, smarter crop investments

Meal kits for “food deserts” and crowdsourced crop-pricing platform win Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize. The competition was sponsored by Rabobank—one of the largest banks in the world that caters specifically to food and agribusiness clients—and supported by J-WAFS and the MIT Food and Agriculture Club.


Context Insights 2nd place team and Prize sponsors and organizers

What will we eat in the year 2050?

An MIT-sponsored gathering of experts in the sciences, humanities and design focused on the role and impact of models to envision the global food system under climate change.


Symposium dinner appetizer was a trio of dried, preserved and foraged mushrooms — fungi known to help the soil store carbon dioxide and thus slow the pace of climate change

MIT PhD student grows a living water sensor

In this J-WAFS student spotlight, we interview biological engineering PhD student Tzu-Chieh Tang (Zijay), who is a 2017-2018 J-WAFS fellow. Zijay works across disciplines to develop engineered living materials that can sense contaminants and be used as living sensors that can both record contaminant levels in water supplies and serve as bioremediation tools. Read more to learn about his fascinating research area, and the path that led him to it.


Zijay portrait

J-WAFS news: new mobile-friendly design

We’ve spruced up our newsletter just in time for spring! Sign up for our monthly J-WAFS e-newsletter to peruse our new design and get the latest updates, events, and opportunities in water and food at MIT and across the globe.


newsletter mock-up

Simple, low-cost E. coli test wins MIT Water Innovation Prize

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 MIT Water Innovation Prize! The prize, organized by the MIT Water Club and co-sponsored by J-WAFS, is a startup competition that attracts student teams from around the US. Nine student teams competed for $30K in awards. Three top teams received awards with Oasis, a student team from Georgia Tech, winning the $15,000 grand prize.


water prize winners

J-WAFS-Funded Xylem Water Filter Poster Awarded at MIT Water Night

On World Water Day, March 22nd, the J-WAFS-sponsored MIT Water Club celebrated water research of all kinds with an art and science-filled celebration: Water Night. There, Krithika Ramchander, PhD candidate in MechE, won first prize in the Water Technology category for the J-WAFS Solutions-funded water filter made of tree xylem.


people at water night

J-WAFS milk testing device to improve food safety in dairy industry in India

A sensing device currently being developed by MIT MechE professor Sanjay Sarma, covered here in Gulf News, tests the quality and safety of milk to allow early detection of contamination. This piece shows how this J-WAFS Solutions project could address current challenges that India's dairy industry faces by providing an affordable and accessible tool that could be used throughout the supply chain.


Indian youth pouring milk

How a J-WAFS-funded device harvests water from air

An MIT-developed system could provide drinking water even in extremely arid locations. This technology, which is supported by a 2017 J-WAFS seed grant, uses metal organic frameworks (MOFs) to extract potable water from even the driest of desert air.  Here, MIT News catches us up on recent advancements and the PIs scale-up plans.


Detail of water harvesting device

Two J-WAFS projects featured in Water Desalination Report

The March volume of the Water Desalination Report covered two J-WAFS-funded projects that will be presented at the Global Water Summit to be held in April in Paris, France. MIT's Shreya Dave will present on NUfiltration, a nanofiltration membrane made of graphene that J-WAFS funded in 2015. MechE associate professor Evelyn Wang will present on the currently funded research that uses metal organic frameworks (MOFs) to passively capture water vapor, which can be released by natural sunlight.


water desalination report

J-WAFS director John Lienhard's snapshot of J-WAFS' impact

Following a talk on February 15th at the Universidad de Alcalá (UAH), J-WAFS director John Lienhard spoke with iAgua, a media group in Spain focused on water sector news. This interview provides an introduction to MIT's unique approach to water and food research and J-WAFS' mission to catalyze research in these areas across the Institute to solve the world's most pressing global challenges.


Lienhard in spain mid-conversation

J-WAFS PI Tim Lu reprograms biological systems to combat disease

MIT EECS associate professor Timothy Lu develops novel ways to engineer cells, both bacterial and human, to perform new functions. This MIT News profile captures the roots of his research, which is also being put to use in this J-WAFS-funded project that uses engineered bacteriophages to create a quick and affordable food safety test.


Tim Lu in lab

MIT/BU collaboration takes microbial approach to agriculture

An MIT class, offered in January by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, took a group of undergraduate students to Israel to learn cutting-edge techniques used to study microbial communities. The goal of this work was to understand the influence of microbiomes on farm animals' conversion of plants to protein in hopes that a greater understanding  gut bacteria could be used to increase the efficiency of the plant-to-biomass conversion pipeline.


Students doing research in lab in Israel

J-WAFS PI's models help decision makers advance food security

MIT Research Scientist Kenneth Strzepek has devoted his career to poverty alleviation and sustainable economic development in resource-limited countries. This MIT News profile details his approach and captures how his collaboratively developed J-WAFS-funded project uses models to help decision makers advance food security in Africa in the face of climate change.


Ken Strzepek with Ethiopian minister of agriculture

MIT’s growing global leadership in water, fueled by J-WAFS, achieves industry recognition

Water and Wastewater International's 2018 Top 25 Global Water Leaders list shows how MIT research is fueling advancements across the water industry.  The list recognizes J-WAFS director John Lienhard and three others with strong connections to MIT, including the CEO of J-WAFS' current Research Affiliate, Xylem, Inc.


John Lienhard and WWi logo

Intensive agriculture influences U.S. regional summer climate

Study finds that an increase in corn and soybean production in the Midwest may have led to cooler, wetter summers there. MIT researchers showed that there was a strong correlation between the intensification of agriculture in the Midwest, the decrease in observed average daytime temperatures in the summer, and an increase in the observed local rainfall


Map of U.S. Midwest depicting bushels of corn produced in different shades of green

J-WAFS PI Stephen C. Graves elected to National Academy of Engineering

J-WAFS PI Stephen C. Graves, Abraham J. Siegel Professor of Management Science, Sloan School of Management, is one of four MIT faculty members elected to the National Academy of Engineering.  These MIT professors are among the 83 new members and 16 foreign members elected by the Academy this year.


Stephen Graves talking to two students

How J-WAFS PIs Are Producing Water out of Thin Air

In a recent article in Opening Doors magazine PIs Evelyn Wang, Gail E. Kendall Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Mircea Dincă, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry discuss their J-WAFS-funded project, which uses Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) to harvest water from air.  The technology in development could be a critical tool to increase water supply in remote or water-stressed areas in arid regions.


Water bottle in desert landscape

Three Water Management Strategies to Address Future Climate Scenarios

On January 31st, an interdisciplinary panel of five MIT graduate students and postdocs discussed their water-related research.  The panelists presented a variety of approaches to water management, including constructed urban wetlands specially designed for stormwater filtration; a strategy using corporate data to spur more accurate water risk assessments; and a decision tool for water planners to use when evaluating new water infrastructure that accounts for climate uncertainty. 


J-WAFS panelists presenting their work

Food insecurity challenges and responses at MIT and other Boston area college campuses

A February 5th article in the Boston Globe covered the challenge of food insecurty on college campuses in the area. MIT was included as one of several local institutions seeking to address this problem after the results of a recent MIT survey that showed that a small percentage of students experience food insecurity on campus. The article includes several approaches each of the institutions are taking to find solutions.


Student at Emerson student food pantry

J-WAFS PI Susan Solomon awarded for contributions to climate science

Susan Solomon, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at MIT, was honored with the award of the 2018 Crafoord Prize, which recognized "her fundamental contributions to understanding the role of atmospheric trace gases in Earth’s climate system." Prof. Solomon's climate research has also been supported by a J-WAFS seed grant.  Find out more about that project here.


Susan Solomon portrait

J-WAFS Director John Lienhard Named #4 in Top 25 Global Water Leaders List

In growing recognition of MIT’s significant contributions to innovation in the water sector, MIT professor and J-WAFS director John Lienhard was the only academic on the annual list of the top 25 thought leaders in the global water sector just announced by Water and Wastewater International (WWi).  Also recognized is Patrick Decker, CEO of Xylem, the first member of J-WAFS’ Research Affiliate program.  Xylem is supporting students and sponsored research at MIT through their engagement with J-WAFS.


WWI top 25 logo

MIT professor’s five recommendations for how to achieve sustainable water sharing agreements among Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam stakeholders

In this article on Nature Middle East, Elfatih Eltahir, Breene M Kerr Professor of Hydrology and Climate in CEE, discusses how the water sharing conflicts related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project are tied to problems of population growth and agricultural productivity in the region. Here, he shares five recommendations for how the governments of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan might achieve an agreement that benefits everyone.


Eltahir photo

J-WAFS-funded innovators join Forbes’ 2018 “Encyclopedia of creative disruption”

Forbes Magazine, recently announced their 2018 “30 under 30” lists, which include over 30 MIT faculty, research staff, and alumni. These lists, organized by theme, represent a compendium of what Forbes calls “an encyclopedia of creative disruption” in various fields of expertise. This year includes four J-WAFS-supported faculty, students, and alumni and an additional two MIT affiliates whose work in water and food was also recognized.


Forbes portraits

J-WAFS PIs use vibration to improve desalination processes

Xuanhe Zhao, Noyce Career Development Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, was recently interviewed by Opening Doors Magazine. There, he discusses the 2017 J-WAFS-funded project that he is co-leading with John Lienhard, Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water and Food and the director of J-WAFS. The team plans to develop a chemical-free, vibration-based membrane that could dramatically improve the efficiency—and reduce the costs—of reverse osmosis, the most widely used desalination process in the world.


Dirty RO membrane

J-WAFS PI transforms rocks into fertilizer for crops

Antoine Allanore, assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, was interviewed by Opening Doors magazine for their Autumn 2017 issue. This article covers his 2017 J-WAFS-funded seed grant project. In it, Allanore explains the method he's developed to turn the rock K Feldspar into potassium fertilizer. His goal is to provide farmers in Africa access to affordable fertilizer that meets the needs of their tropical soils.


Antoine Allanore

J-WAFS grants $15,000 to two MIT teams addressing water and food challenges in India

In fall 2017, J-WAFS announced a new grant opportunity for shovel-ready MIT projects that focus on water and food challenges in India. One winning team from the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering and another from J-PAL and the MIT Department of Economics and were selected by an interdisciplinary group of faculty reviewers. Selected teams will receive $15,000 to support work through December 2018.


J-WAFS logo

J-WAFS PI Noelle Selin profiled by MIT News

In this MIT News profile, Noelle Eckley Selin, associate professor in MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS) and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), discusses her MIT research.  Selin uses chemistry models to understand how international environmental treaties and regulations affect the transport of toxins they aim to control. Selin received a J-WAFS seed grant for a project that examines the impact of mercury contamination on rice in China.


Noelle Selin portrait

MIT field study shows that arsenic in groundwater reduces rice yields in Bangladesh

Groundwater in rural Bangladesh contains very high levels of arsenic but is still used widely for drinking water and irrigation. MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) researchers are looking at how contaminated groundwater, deposited through irrigation, impacts rice yields, with recent results published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.


Brittany Huhmann measures arsenic in rice paddy soil using a field kit in Faridpur, Bangladesh.

Deshpande Center and J-WAFS announce fall 2017 research grants

The MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation announced today the award of $768,000 in grants to 17 MIT research teams currently working on early-stage technologies. The Deshpande Center also manages the J-WAFS Solutions program, which awarded $675,000 in project funding to five teams this year. The 2017-2018 projects span a wide range of areas, including drug delivery, energy, 3-D printing, medical device, displays, and data communications.


John Lienhard Solutions project prototype

MIT research team proposes alternative to straw burning in India

The Economic Times of India reports that a joint effort is under way by Indian scientists and an MIT research team to end the harmful practice of rice and wheat straw burning in Punjab and convert the crop residue into a product of value to benefit the farmers. The process is called "torrefecation." The MIT research team is Ahmed Ghoniem, Alexander Slocum, and Kevin Kung. Their pre-prototype torrefecation  reactor processes crop residue into biochar. 


Economic Times logo

MIT spinout, PipeGuard Robotics wins HUBweek’s Demo Day Pitch Competition

MIT spinout and 2017 Water Innovation Prize winner PipeGuard took first prize at the Demo Day Pitch Competition, part of Boston’s HubWeek. Their product uses sensors to detect early leaks in pipes, which can prevent infrastructure damage in urban settings. The MIT team competed against 100 other MA-based startups, winning $20,000.


Pipeguard robot diagram

Hydrogel that extracts uranium from water wins MIT’s MADMEC competition

A team of MIT materials science and engineering students, named A Salt Solution, won $10,000 in the DMSE’s annual MADMEC competition on October 10th. Their prize-winning prototype is a simple, low-cost hydrogel that can extract uranium from water to provide more fuel for nuclear power plants. The project can be incorporated into water desalination plants or placed directly into bodies of water.


MIT student team A Salt Solution

MIT alumna on J-WAFS funded research project and why researchers should step out of the lab

Shreya Dave, when an MIT doctoral student, was working on a J-WAFS-funded research project on the use of graphene membranes for desalination. While pursuing the research, she visited a working reverse-osmosis desalination plant in Spain. Dave, now a research affiliate at MIT and CEO of the startup Via Separations which is focused on graphene membrane filter systems, credits this visit for helping her team develop a more useful set of applications for their work.


female scientist running

J-WAFS PI Michael Strano elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering, was elected in early 2017 to the National Academy of Engineering for his contributions to nanotechnology, including fluorescent sensors for human health and solar and thermal energy devices. Professor Strano receives J-WAFS Solutions grant support for: A Multiplex, Nanosensor Platform for the Real Time Monitoring of Food and Water-Borne Contaminants


Logo for the National Academy of Engineering

J-WAFS fellow Sarah Fletcher on challenges facing water planning and urban infrastructure

The September 25th edition of Water Desalination Report discusses a paper by lead author Sarah Fletcher, MIT doctoral candidate in IDSS and a 2017-18 J-WAFS fellow. The paper, “Water Supply Infrastructure Planning: Decision-Making Framework to Classify Multiple Uncertainties and Evaluate Flexible Design” uses the Victorian Desalination Plant in Wonthaggi, Australia, to evaluate opportunities for a reduction in capital investment for water supply infrastructure planning.


Water Desalination Report logo

J-WAFS projects make inroads on global food and water challenges

Nearly two dozen research teams supported by J-WAFS presented updates on their work at a day-long event on Sept. 15th, 2017. This MIT News article reviews the event, highlighting the objectives and outcomes of projects that take a variety of approaches to solving food and water sector challenges, including finding better ways to purify and desalinate water, improving fertilizer production, and preventing food contamination, and many others.


Erica James presenting results of Leverage Project

J-WAFS Solutions project is recipient of The Engine's first round of funding

A new venture launched by MIT will support “tough-tech” companies at work on transformative ideas that take time to commercialize. Via Separations, a company that launched out of a 2015 J-WAFS Solutions project led by materials science and engineering professor Jeffrey Grossman, is one of The Engine's first seven startups.


Portrait of Engine start-up entrepreneurs

MIT researchers identify opportunities to improve quality, reduce cost of global food assistance delivery

Proper food assistance packaging can be a major contributing factor toward preventing spoilage and infestation, a challenge that is important for international food assistance programs. Research from MIT's CITE program has identified opportunities for improving these issues through food aid supply chains. Mark Brennan, CITE Research Assistant and a J-WAFS-funded student, with a team of MIT researchers, has just released a report that analyzes this issue. 


Mark Brennan and Prithvi Sundar in warehouse in front of sacs of food

J-WAFS PI Susan Solomon interviewed about climate change in storm's wake

In an interview in the Boston Globe, Susan Solomon, Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry & Climate Science at MIT, shares perspectives on and pedagogical approaches to discussing climate change and climate policies with students.


Susan Solomon

J-WAFS PI Evelyn Wang joins leadership team in MechE

Mechanical engineering alumna, J-WAFS PI, and internationally recognized professor Evelyn Wang was appointed in September 2017 as the new associate head of the department of Mechanical Engineering.


Evelyn Wang

J-WAFS awards commercialization grants to develop technologies for water and food solutions

On September 7th, 2017, J-WAFS announced three new recipients of J-WAFS Solutions grants, as well as the award of a second year of funding to two current projects. Together, the funded projects demonstrate MIT’s application of innovative technologies to food and water challenges such as improving irrigation, reducing pesticide use, and improving water filtration and monitoring.


D-Lab staff discussing water filters with residents of a rural village in India

Bringing poverty-alleviating solutions to market in India, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda

2017 MIT D-Lab Scale-Ups Fellow is providing irrigation solutions to small commercial farmers, who need technology that is powerful enough for commercial-scale production but that have low upfront investment costs and requires minimal technical know-how.


Irrigation system in sub-Saharan Africa

Katherine Taylor, 28: MIT alumna's simple water pump could transform the lives of millions of farmers in India

Katherine Taylor MS’15, who is CEO and co-founder of the MIT spinout Khethworks, has been named one of “35 Innovators Under 35” by MIT Technology Review. The simple water pump that she developed during her mechanical engineering master’s program at MIT could transform the lives of millions of farmers in India.


Image of katharine taylor

MIT Study: For food-waste recycling, policy is key

A national study by MIT researchers provides one of the first in-depth looks at the characteristics of places that have adopted food recycling, revealing several new facts in the process. The study, published in the journal Resources, Conservation, and Recycling, shows that successful programs aren’t limited to well-off towns with strong environmental movements


Image of food scraps in compost

Case study suggests new approach to urban water supply

An MIT News spotlight on August 14th, 2017, featured MIT researchers who have found a strong case for building modest, incremental additions to water infrastructure in advanced countries, rather than expensive larger-scale projects that may be needed only rarely. This research team, which includes 2017-18 J-WAFS Meswani Fellow Sarah Fletcher, used a case study in Australia to explore what water planning should look like in a future of global warming, drought conditions, and population growth.


Image of water dripping from tap

World Economic Forum highlights water leak detecting MIT technology

Robot Daisy, a water leak detection technology created by MIT mechanical engineering PhD candidate You Wu, was profiled by the WEF in October, 2017. This article highlights how the robot can detect leaks in urban water systems and, as a result, reduce cost and wasted water. Wu's startup, PipeGuard, was a winner of a 2017 water prize.


Kids drinking from burst pipe

Deadly heat waves could hit South Asia this century

A new MIT study, published on August 14th in the journal Science Advances, shows that deadly climate change-induced heat waves could begin, within as little as a few decades, to strike regions of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.  The affected regions include the fertile Indus and Ganges river basins that produce much of the region's food supply. 


Map of heat distribution across India

How climate change might affect the Nile

The Economist highlights a study by MIT researchers that shows climate change could cause the flow of the Nile River to become more variable, increasing strain on regional water conflicts.  THe researchers found that while output could increase by up to 15%, variability would also increase, resulting in, "more (and worse) floods and droughts."


The Economist logo

MIT spinout SproutsIO aims to power a “Personal Produce” movement

Smart, soil-free microgarden lets users optimize growing conditions while cutting water and resource use.


Chefs adding herbs to dishes

J-WAFS PI Susan Solomon awarded the Royal Society's Bakerian Medal

Professor of atmospheric chemistry honored for her contributions to atmospheric science. Solomon has been a leader in the fields of atmospheric chemistry and climate change for more than three decades.


Susan Solomon, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies

Back to our roots: MIT short program, Innovation and Technology in Agriculture and the Environment, unifies industry and academia

Agriculture is one of the industry sectors identified by the charter of MIT, and is inscribed inside the dome of Lobby 7 on campus. The MIT Professional Education short program Innovation and Technology in Agriculture and the Environment, which is led by several J-WAFS faculty affiliates, furthers this connection between research at MIT and industry practitioners.


short course students on MIT green

J-WAFS in action: Creating food and fuel from algae

Opening Doors, the corporate magazine of Abdul Latif Jameel, includes an interview with MIT's Mathias Kolle, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.  Here he describes plans for his 2017 J-WAFS seed grant: improve industrial algae production for use as both food and fuel.  He intends to develop a new optical fiber to distribute light and CO2 more efficiently through algae production tanks andreduce the energy required to produce algae for food and fuel. 


Portrait of Mathias Kolle

J-WAFS in action: Enabling local fertilizer production in Africa

In the corporate magazine of Abdul Latif Jameel, Opening Doors, Karthish Manthiram, Warren K. Lewis Career Development Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT, was interviewed about his 2017 J-WAFS-funded Seed Grant project: ‘Electrochemical Nitrogen Fixation for Distributed Fertilizer Production’.  Here he shares the motivations behind the proposed solar-powered electrochemical device that he and his team are building that will convert nitrogen from air and water for fertilizer.


Portrait of Karthish Manthiram

Addressing the impact of air and water pollution worldwide

Community Jameel's online magazine, Opening Doors, captured highlights from J-WAFS initiatives from spring 2017 including the research of J-WAFS PIs Colette Heald, Associate Professor and Associate Department Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), and T. Alan Hatton, Ralph Landau Professor of Chemical Engineering, as well as winners of the MIT Water Innovation Prize.


image of smokestacks and smoke at dusk

Making the Global Food Supply Chain Safer

A J-WAFS Seed Grant project on improving food safety via supply chain management was featured in the Sloan School of Business alumni magazine. PIs Tahuid Zaman and Retsef Levi share how the project sparked collaborations among multiple faculty across several schools at MIT and outline their plans to take the project to the next step where they will focus on supply chains in China.


Portrait of Retsef Levi

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.


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, “in the Southwest, water availability for irrigation is already a concern. If we mitigate, this could prevent added stress... but it will be even worse in the future if we don’t do anything.”


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.


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".


Sarah Fletcher, Abby Onencan, Kathleen Mulvaney, Kunbi Adetona, and Anjuli Jain

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. 


Cartoon rendering of PipeGuard sensor

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 competition 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 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...

MIT 100K winners

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...

Three people discussing idea

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, challenges in food and water security posed by population growth and climate change in the coming years are featured. The article addresses how the Middle East could be impacted, and calls for energy efficient and sustainable solutions. It highlights J-WAFS' contributions, featuring three Seed and Solutions grant projects that could provide valuable support to the water and food-related issues facing the Middle East.

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.


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.


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, which was a focus of a J-WAFS expert workshop in 2014. 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. 


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.


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.


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.


Renee Robins, John Lienhard and two others at Stockholm Food Forum

Watering the world

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


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.


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.


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

New MIT Course on Agriculture and the Environment

With water and food systems challenges becoming increasingly urgent around the globe, MIT has launched a course that brings these issues to the forefront. This new course, titled “Innovation and Technology in Agriculture and the Environment”, is now available through the MIT Professional Education program.



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 is 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.


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 and other researchers. Read More...

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 could offer a much faster and cheaper alternative to existing food safety tests. 


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 J-WAFS PIs on this project, Kenneth Strzepek (Joint Program), and Susan Solomon (EAPS), and others. 


Picture of drought in maize fields

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. 


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


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.


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.


produce in bin

Reducing spoilage in food aid shipments

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


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....


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...


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...


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...


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 ....


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...


Rohit Karnik holding red vial

MIT-USAID program releases technology evaluation of water test kits

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


Field test participant Asma Patham uses water test kit in India

Reducing runoff pollution by making spray droplets less bouncy

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


Maher Damak and Kripa Varanasi

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

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


J-WAFS logo

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...


MechE Connects logo

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

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


John Lienhard

MIT Students Win Recognition at Water Sector Conferences

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


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...


Person carrying jugs of water on bridge

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...


Valerie Karplus portrait

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...


Colorful collage of words prominently featuring “game changers”

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...


Fulbright Logo

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

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


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...


Woman presenting at J-WAFS Food and Water conference

“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…


J-WAFS logo

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


Attendees at J-WAFS conference

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


John Lienhard giving opening remarks at competition

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


Winners of MIT Water Innovation Prize

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


International Desalination World Congress 2015

Toward cheaper water treatment

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


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


J-WAFS logo

Powering desalination with the sun

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


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


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


Hassan Jameel and President Reif

International experts analyze impacts of Ethiopian dam

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


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


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


Rice in hands