WC-16 Future Challenges and Solutions at the Agriculture-Water Nexus Part 2

Food production and biofuels-based energy demand in the face of changing water availability are significant global challenges in the modern society. These manifest uniquely at different scales, from the farm field to global food distribution, and require innovative composite solutions in terms of policy, education, science, and technology.Solutions to water use for food and biofuel crops require resource management based upon socioeconomic and scientific understanding.

This session focus on mitigation of drought effects which are being directly met through interdisciplinary teams utilizing targeted research, policy outreach, dynamic modeling, and leading edge technology. From the Midwest to India, key accomplishments and remaining gaps in research will be examined to leverage innovations to meet these national and global challenges changing the nexus of food, energy and water systems.


Patrick Morgan, Senior Scientist, LI-COR Biosciences and Tess Russo, Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University


  • Tala Awada, Professor and Associate Dean, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Nicholas Brozovic, Director of Policy, Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute, University of Nebraska
  • Naresh Devineni, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, City College of New York
  • Joshua Elliott, Research Scientist and Fellow, University of Chicago
  • Michael Hayes, Director, National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Christopher Neale, Director of Research, Water for Food Institute, University of Nebraska
  • Sasmita Sahoo, Postdoctoral Student, Department of Geosciences, College of Earth and Mineral Scienes, Pennsylvania State University
  • Tara Troy, Assistant Professor, Water Resources Engineering, Lehigh University
  • Andrew VanLoocke, Assistant Professor, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University

Patrick Morgan is a research scientist focused on advancing scientific discovery by developing solutions, applications, and instruments for measuring plant responses to environmental conditions. He specializes in plant-level measurements with emphasis on water and carbon by employing novel instrumentation to better predict and assess plant responses to a changing environment. His research focuses on scientific instruments for measuring leaf-level gas exchange, leaf area, leaf area index, and solar radiation. His team develops new applications for existing product lines to augment existing capabilities. Morgan also has an adjunct appointment in the School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He earned a PhD in Plant Biology at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and an MS and BS at the University of Wyoming. (402-467-3576; pat.morgan@licor.com)

Tess Russo is a hydrologist who researches hydrologic system responses to environmental change with the objective of informing restoration and management decisions. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences at Penn State. Her work includes quantifying components of the groundwater budget, modeling vadose zone infiltration rates, optimizing managed recharge projects, and assessing impacts of agricultural intensification on water resources. Tess is primarily a physical hydrologist who uses numerical and statistical models to characterize and project hydrologic system behavior; however she also works on several projects measuring and modeling the fate and transport of nutrients and trace metals. Tess has projects in east Africa, India, Papua New Guinea, Colombia, and the US. (814-865-7389, russo@psu.edu)

Tala Awada is a Professor of Plant Ecophysiology in the School of Natural Resources, and serves as the Interim Associate Dean of the Agricultural Research Division, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Tala co-leads the Consortium for Integrated Translational Biology and the NE Long-Term Agroecosystem Network (LTAR) at UNL. She conducts research in the areas of plant ecophysiology, crop abiotic stresses, forest and grasslands ecology, ecology of invasive species, vegetation cover change as impacted by climate variability and change, and anthropogenic management. (402-472-3471; tawada2@unl.edu)

Nicholas Brozovic is the Director of Policy at the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska. He works to ensure that the Institute’s scientific and policy research effectively informs policy and decision makers. He also oversees the Institute’s social innovation and entrepreneurship programs. Brozovic has extensive experience in water policy and management worldwide. Within the food-energy-water nexus, he is working on the design and implementation of environmental markets, on understanding needs for good resource governance, and on the analysis of real-time data to improve agricultural water use. Brozovic holds PhD and MS degrees in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California, Berkeley, an MS in geology from the University of Southern California, and a BS in geology from Oxford University. (402.472.5145; nbrozovic@nebraska.edu

Naresh Devineni is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and a Faculty Affiliate at NOAA-Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and Technology Center in The City University of New York’s City College. He holds an MS and PhD in Civil Engineering from North Carolina State University. He did his post-doctoral studies at Columbia University. He also worked as a Consultant for the World Bank for brief period in 2009. He has diverse interests in hydro-climate modeling and extremes analysis, statistical methods, water sustainability and risk assessment and water systems analysis. (212-650-8440, ndevineni@ccny.cuny.edu)

Joshua Elliot, University of Chicago, works on topics at the interface of global change, environmental, and social sciences through applied modeling and computational projects. Elliot is Co-Principal Investigator and Impacts Team lead at the NSF-funded center for Robust Decision-making in Climate and Energy Policy (RDCEP) and leads the Global Gridded Crop Model Intercomparison (GGCMI) project. He uses large-scale high-resolution models enabled by big data and computing to improve global change vulnerability assessments and tools, and also works on predictions of agriculture at seasonal scales, effects of large-scale drought and heat events, and with socio-economic modeling and scenario analysis in the context of integrated assessment models. (773-896-6044; joshuaelliott@uchicago.edu)

Michael Hayes is Director of the National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He researches drought monitoring, impact assessment, and planning methodologies, and has assisted local, state, tribal, and federal officials. Recent droughts demonstrate the global connectedness of agriculture, markets, and the worldwide impacts that droughts can have. The 2012 drought in the central U.S. illustrated that American agriculture is vulnerable and can contribute to global food security issues. Corn yields illustrate how technology and irrigation are important strategies to fight droughts. These will become more important as climate variability may increase. Efforts to improve soil health can help central U.S. agriculture better prepare for both increased wetness and severe droughts, and is currently being promoted by USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service. (402-472-6702; mhayes2@unl.edu)

Christopher Neale is the Director of Research at the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska. He oversees the Institute’s research efforts, engages faculty in new projects, and initiates partnerships with organizations and universities worldwide. Neale has extensive experience developing remote sensing applications for irrigated agriculture, hydrology and natural resources monitoring. Prior to joining the University of Nebraska in 2013, Neale spent 25 years as a professor of irrigation engineering at Utah State University. He is president of the International Commission on Remote Sensing of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences and has worked on the ground in the western U.S., Africa, South America and the Caribbean. He holds a PhD in Agricultural Engineering from Colorado State University. (402-472-5145; cneale@nebraska.edu)

Dr. Sasmita Sahoo is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, working with Dr. Tess A. Russo. Her research focuses on studying the impacts of climate change on groundwater fluctuation patterns through natural and human-induced processes. Dr. Sahoo uses historical observations of climate and hydrological variables and modeled irrigation-water demand to develop empirical and statistical models. The results will help us to understand the dynamic relationship between climate change and groundwater in both space and time. Overall, this study will help in sustaining groundwater resources in climate adaptation strategies, as the value of groundwater for global water and food security tends to escalate under climate forcing. (814-826-4230; sasmita@psu.edu)

Tara Troy is an Assistant Professor for Water Resources Engineering at Lehigh University. Dr. Troy’s research lies at the intersection of climate, water, and food, with a particular interest in understanding the role of climate variability on water supply and demand across a variety of scales. To do this, she uses a computational hydrologic model, remote sensing, in situ measurements, and reanalysis products with work focusing on developing numerical models that include human activities, such as irrigation, and high resolution flood modeling. Prior to joining Lehigh’s faculty, Dr. Troy was an associate research scientist for the Columbia Water Center at Columbia University. She is an author on more than 15 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has presented her work at both domestic and international conferences. She is a guest editor for a special issue of Hydrology and Earth System Sciences and is serving on the American Geophysical Union’s Hydrology Section Outstanding Student Paper Award committee.

Andrew VanLoocke is an Agricultural Meteorologist in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University. Andy studies the impacts of land use change as well as global change on water relations in agroecosystems. His team uses a combination of micrometeorology and plant physiological measurements along with agroecosystem models to scale crop water use from the leaf, to the canopy, and to the region. Global change research topics include the impacts of increasing CO2, O3 and/or temperatures on crop water demands and water cycling. Land use change research topics include bioenergy production scenarios such as transitioning to perennial C4 grasses or biomass sorghum in the Central and Midwestern U.S. Andy is excited to participate in the WC-16 Future Challenges and Solutions at the Agriculture-Water Nexus (Part 2). (andyvanl@iastate.edu)


  • Patrick Morgan, Senior Scientist, LI-COR Biosciences
  • Tess Russo, Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University
  • Tala Awada, Professor and Associate Dean, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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