FAFS, Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA), Texas A&M University (TAMU), Texas A&M University Qatar (TAMU Q), and Qatar Foundation met early February 2018 during a Town Hall Meeting held at AUB to discuss the prospects of building joint activities and establishing collaborations under the umbrella of Water, Energy and Food Security.
As a new initiative at AUB, faculty members and visiting delegates explored partnership in the nexus of water, food, energy and health through both joint research and student mobility. Each institution presented (previous and) ongoing research areas and identified possible frameworks that would establish potential partnerships. Some of the research topics mentioned by TAMU Q included current water and environmental research activities, smart water distribution systems, advanced water and wastewater treatment processes, desalination process innovation, utilizing solar energy for carbon dioxide reduction and water treatment and Qatar sustainable water and energy utilization as an initiative joint with TAMU Main Campus. FAFS faculty members then presented some topics relating to the nexus such as water requirements of Origanum using smart irrigation, natural resource management in terms of water-energy-food nexus and water use, using AREC weather station to determine reference ET and map actual ET across the Bekaa, nutrition security among vulnerable populations, sustainability of dietary patterns, in function of environmental footprints (water and energy use, GHGe) economic cost, composition of traditional foods and dietary components of potential health effects on the population, waterscapes and other water related projects that approach water treatment, harvesting and human interactions with water as a main landscape element, the transformation of agrarian landscapes, land characterization assessment for the Nahr el Bared watershed, exploring links between nature and culture: cultural ecosystem service (CES), Mediterranean extensive green roof, adapting food systems to climate variability in arid and semi-arid areas and remote sensing analysis. MSFEA’s presentations also discussed interdisciplinary projects including but not limited to alternative energy and energy efficiency, water and mineral resources, energy management and resource planning, micro-grids and micro-nets, desalination in Lebanon, climate change and salt water intrusion and sanitation and hygiene systems in refugee camps. AREC also highlighted its role as a major center for experiential learning and training that facilitate relevant, innovative, applied and adaptive research
A discussion with AUB’s President’s Office followed in which visiting delegates along with Texas Engineering Experiment Station and Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center tackled the overarching goal of the meeting which is to formalize a strategy of cooperation between these institutions under the areas of interest to AUB faculties.
This initiative led by FAFS and MSFEA will be a benchmark that allows AUB to establish research and education cooperation, and to localize the essential knowledge required to face common challenges occurring within this nexus in the MENA region.
The presentations that took place at the meeting are the following: