WC-2 Integrating Food-Energy-Water Systems across Space and Time

Food-Energy-Water Systems are connected both within and among regions as well as across different timescales. Yet as we continue to face increasingly complex problems there is limited acknowledgement of these cross-scalar interactions. As a result, narrowly focused attention on within-region dynamics alone miss critical dynamics of feedbacks that lead to unintended consequences (a.k.a. adverse outcomes). Critically, recognition of these dynamics locally and over short timescales is insufficient to understanding longer term responses. Our session will use case studies of energy, nutrient, food, and water systems to explore the most important flows, agents, causes, and effects of these resources, and explore emerging frontiers for sustainable policy at multiple spatial and temporal scales.


Tom Richard, Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Director, Institute for Energy and the Environment, Pennsylvania State University


  • Inés del Valle Asis, Senior Research Professor, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba
  • William Ball, Executive Director, Chesapeake Research Consortium
  • Erica Brand, Director, California Energy Program, The Nature Conservancy
  • Jean Brennan, Coordinator and Senior Scientist, Appalachian Landscape Conservation Consortium
  • Charles Curtin, Researcher, Resources and Environmental Policy, University of Montana
  • Brady Halligan, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Enrollment, The Green Program
  • Larry Kapustka, Senior Ecologist and Senior Ecotoxicologist, LK Consultancy
  • Ron McCormick, Ecologist, Bureau of Land Management

Dr. Tom Richard is a Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Director of Penn State’s Institutes for Energy and the Environment. His research and teaching focuses on the intersection of agriculture and the environment, investigating the impacts of crop, livestock, and biomass energy systems on carbon and nutrient cycling, soil and water quality, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. His recent work attempts to illuminate the ethical choices implicit in framing system boundaries with respect to space (air, water) and time (soil, forests, climate). Tom received a B.S. from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. and Ph.D. from Cornell University, and is a Fellow and Past President of the Institute of Biological Engineering. (814-865-3722; trichard@psu.edu)

Inés del Valle Asis is an expert in business and environmental economics. She is currently leads a research program on Integrated Management of the Water Resources Research Institute and works on projects related to Resource Economics and Environmental Economics. She has published textbooks of General Economics and Business Economics and contributed to book chapters on issues related to their specialty. In the private sector, she has been involved in capital budgeting and advising businesses in Cordoba Province. (iasis@eco.unc.edu.ar)

William (Bill) Ball (P.E., Ph.D.) has been Executive Director of the Chesapeake Research Consortium (CRC) since January 2015 and is a Professor within the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Bill has over 30 years of experience investigating physical-chemical processes controlling water quality, as related to both natural aquatic systems and engineered processes, and is currently Director of a multi-university project under NSF’s Water, Sustainability and Climate program that focuses on linking changing agricultural practices with water quality impacts to Chesapeake Bay. In his position with the CRC, Bill is excited to help foster collaborative research and integrate science among the many federal, state, academic, and other non-governmental organizations involved in the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership. (410-798-1283; ballw@si.edu)

Erica Brand serves as Director of the California Energy Program at The Nature Conservancy. In this role, she leads a team that works to integrate the protection of nature into planning for California’s clean energy future and find solutions for facilitating this transition in a manner that protects important natural resources and ecosystems. Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, she served as a Senior Environmental Policy Specialist at Pacific Gas & Electric Company, and has spent 12 years in the energy and environmental sector. Erica holds an M.S. degree in Environmental Management from the University of San Francisco, and a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Jean Brennan is Coordinator and Senior Scientist for Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC). LCCs are part of a national conservation network established by the Department of the Interior in 2009. The Appalachian LLC covers parts of fifteen States: New York to Alabama, Illinois to Virginia. LCCs forge strategic collaborative science-management partnerships among individuals and organizations to achieved shared goals. Such partnerships are intended to promote innovative, practical, landscape-level strategies for managing large-scale impacts on natural systems due to climate and land-use changes such as agricultural land conversion and energy development. Brennan holds a PhD in Population Biology and Genetics from the University of Tennessee, an MFS in Forest Ecology from Yale University, and a Msc in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. (540-553-4337; jean_brennan@fws.gov)

Charles Curtin is a researcher and practitioner who works at the nexus of science and policy, with a long-term interest in environmental change, large-scale experiments, and conservation design. Though working in a diversity of arenas, the bulk of his work has focused on near shore marine systems in the Gulf of Maine and rangelands in the U.S., Mexico, East Africa, and the Middle East with a focus on applying complex systems theory and resilience science to developing place-based, community-driven science and conservation. This work is highlighted in a recent book from Island Press entitled The Science of Open Spaces. He holds a PhD. in Zoology and Master’s in Land Resources, both from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. (505-429-3601; ccurtin@earthlink.net)

T. Brady Halligan, a 2012 graduate from Rutgers University with a degree in Environmental Policy, has since successfully completed the Strategic Design MBA from Philadelphia University. Brady helped launch The GREEN Program (TGP), a short-term, SDG-focused, career & entrepreneurial abroad program provider. With opportunities in Iceland, Peru, and Philadelphia, these programs are geared toward student leaders and young professionals passionate about climate action. The mission is to inspire and connect these thought leaders through hands-on, experiential learning opportunities. The aim is to help populate the workforce with qualified leaders determined to create solutions. Six years later, TGP has more than 1,600 GREEN Alumni spanning across 450+ universities globally and is commitment partner with the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Dr. Larry Kapustka works at the interface of ecological risk assessment policies and practices from a holistic perspective and incorporates ecosystem services endpoints as a way to foster dialogue pertaining to sustainability. In this regard, he sees an urgent need to consider the interactions that occur and to work to avoid addressing single issues. For example, addressing food needs without considering the total energy and water consequences creates more problems than it solves, and the same goes for each of the other topics. (403-354-2468; kapustka@xplornet.com)

Ron McCormick approaches problems in ecology and sustainability from a complex systems perspective, and uses technology in combination with extensive consulting experience to produce unique, adaptive solutions. His current interests include the use of hierarchy theory in assessing and solving problems by taking equity, economics, and ecology into account and developing adaptive systems to support and implement management decisions. (202-912-7135; rmccormi@blm.gov)


  • Tom Richard, Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Erica Smithwick, Associate Professor of Geography, Director of Center for Landscape Dynamics, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Ines del Valle Asis, PhD candidate in Economics, Universidad Nacional de Cordoba
  • Rhonda Kranz, Consultant, Kranz Consulting and Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR)
  • Ron McCormick, Ecologist, Bureau of Land Management/ Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable (SWRR) Bureau of Land Management
  • Larry Kapustka, Senior Ecologist and Senior Ecotoxicologist, LK Consultancy

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