UW News

October 1, 2019

Engineering lecture series focuses on future of food

Future of food banner. Purple text over a picture of people harvesting rice

By 2050, Earth’s population is estimated to reach nine billion. This will intensify a growing food security crisis, which is already exacerbated by current agricultural processes, climate change and economic inequality. Around the globe, there is an urgent need to improve the safety, efficiency and sustainability of the food supply chain.

This fall the University of Washington’s annual engineering lecture series will feature three UW engineers and scientists who are working across disciplines to manage the quality and quantity of the food we eat and grow. Their lectures — on developing technology to help farmers, studying how arsenic affects food and water quality, and analyzing how dams in rivers impact fish — are free and open to the public, but seating is limited and registration is required.

Growing more with less: Smart tech solutions to feed the world

Faisal Hossain standing in a field with farmers around him

Faisal Hossain (center) working with farmers in Bangladesh. The farmers’ company wanted to enable weather forecasts and agricultural advisories on the farmers’ cellphones.Faisal Hossain/University of Washington

The series kicks off Oct. 10, at 7:30 p.m. in Kane Hall 130 with Faisal Hossain, a professor in the civil and environmental engineering department. His work has resulted in satellite management systems in several nations across Asia that help improve water, food and energy security. Asia has some of the fastest growing economies in the world, but regional monsoons impact efficient water management and reduce agricultural yield. Learn how Hossain uses global weather models and satellite data to develop technology that will help farmers increase crop yield through sustainable water management.

Updated 11/25/19 – video

Human and ecosystem health: Arsenic in food, water, plants and animals

Two people on a boat in the middle of a lake with trees in the background

Rebecca Neumann (front) and UW Tacoma research technician Marco Barajas at Lake Killarney in Federal Way. Neumann’s team set up experiments to get data on both water chemistry and water mixing to understand how daily patterns affect arsenic concentrations in the lake.Dennis Wise/University of Washington

On Oct. 23, at 7:30 p.m. in Kane Hall 130, Rebecca Neumann, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, will talk about how arsenic is a naturally occurring but harmful pollutant. Its ubiquitous presence in natural and agricultural environments threatens global food security and negatively affects the health of millions of people worldwide. Neumann is studying how arsenic in local and global settings affects food and water quality, and the health of ecosystems.

Updated 11/25/19 – video

Floods, fish and people: Challenges and opportunities in the Mekong River basin

Gordon Holtgrieve on a boat with buildings behind him

With new hydropower dams expected to disrupt the natural water flow of the Mekong River, Gordon Holtgrieve is working in Cambodia to uncover how the nutritional quality and quantity of fish will be affected.Mark Stone/University of Washington

The lecture series closes Nov. 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Kane Hall 130 with Gordon Holtgrieve, associate professor of aquatic and fishery sciences. Holtgrieve is an ecosystem ecologist and fisheries scientist whose research spans the Puget Sound area, Alaska and the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. He will talk about his work in the Mekong River basin to address how energy policy, watershed hydrology and ecosystems interact in order to lessen the effects of climate change and new infrastructure in rivers around the globe.

Updated 11/25/19 – video

All lectures are free and start at 7:30 p.m. Advance registration, either online or by calling 206-543-0540, is required. All lectures will be broadcast at a later date on UWTV.