News A Community Message from J-WAFS Director John H. Lienhard V

June 4, 2020

Dear Members of the J-WAFS Community,

The COVID-19 pandemic has now killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world, and the necessary response has led to incomprehensible job losses. The suffering extends to millions of people, with food and water insecurity growing hand-in-hand with financial insecurity and the disruption of our daily lives.

On top of this tragedy, the horrifying death of George Floyd has riven our country and stunned our community. Crowds have risen in protest, demanding an end to systemic racism and to our nation’s seemingly casual disregard for Black lives. In the ensuing chaos, more deaths have followed.

Members of the MIT community have mobilized to fight the pandemic, applying their minds and labs at full intensity. And members of the MIT community have mobilized to demand social justice as well. Acting upon our society’s great challenges is a fundamental value of the Institute. Likewise, treating others with respect and dignity and helping those in need are fundamental values of the human race.

J-WAFS itself was founded with the goal of improving access to water and food for all of humanity. We conduct our mission through research, building on the strengths and human diversity of the Institute. Our programs will not cure COVID-19, but we can help sustain the food systems stressed by the pandemic and help ensure the clean water needed to combat it. Our programs cannot eradicate racism, but the people in our programs can raise their voices to demand justice, to demand fairness, and to remind us all to respect and help one another, without regard to race, religion, sex, or social standing. The challenges facing humankind—the climate crisis, the pandemic, food and water insecurity—can only be met if all of us work together.

I wish you, your loved ones, and your communities health, safety, and strength in these trying times.

John Lienhard Signature black line




John H. Lienhard V
Director, Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab
Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water and Mechanical Engineering