GWI Faculty Meet With Provost

May 28, 2014

A group of faculty working to establish a Global Water Institute at Ohio State discussed their progress with Provost Joe Steinmetz on May 13.
The goal of the meeting was to update the Provost, but the team also hoped that the conversation would push the potential GWI to the next level. “We’ve been working with the Vice President for Research and the College Deans to make this a reality,” said Richard Moore, executive director of the Environmental Sciences Network and associate director of the Office of Energy and Environment, “but we really wanted the Provost’s approval on the GWI concept to go to the next level.”
Moore was joined by Berry Lyons, director of the School of Earth Sciences; Jiyoung Lee, associate professor in the College of Public Health and in the Department of Food Science and Technology; Scott Shearer, chair of the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Gaj Sivandran, assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering.
During the meeting, the faculty shared their conviction that a GWI would catalyze the kind of applied, interdisciplinary research that would benefit students, faculty, and the community at large.
For Gaj Sivandran, who is the faculty advisor for the Ohio State chapter of Engineers Without Borders, it’s all about the students. “International water projects attract the brightest students,” he said, “and with a little more organization we have the opportunity to give them an unparalleled training experience.”
Scott Shearer discussed how a Global Water Institute would benefit end users—who for the Institute’s initial project would be rural communities in developing countries. Having just returned from visiting the iAGRI project sites in Tanzania, he emphasized how GWI would help integrate potential solutions to suit the physical, cultural and economic needs of user communities.
Jiyoung Lee and Berry Lyons discussed their conviction that a water institute would organize and leverage the substantial water research capacity already at Ohio State. “The more coordinated we are, the better our interdisciplinary science and engineering, the more competitive we are for funding from non-traditional sources,” said Lyons.
Provost Joe Steinmetz, formerly the lead dean of the Environmental Sciences Network, has long been a champion of coordination to enhance interdisciplinary scholarship. And he acknowledged that water clearly cuts across all of the university’s Discovery Themes, including the four announced initiative areas (Data Analytics, Emerging and Re-emerging Diseases, Materials for a Sustainable World, and Food to Improve Health).
The Provost endorsed the idea of the Global Water Institute and resolved to explore ways to integrate GWI into the implementation phases of the four Discovery Themes initiatives. He also encouraged the group to work with University Advancement to seek external funding and reach out to other university partners.
“It was a great conversation,” said Richard Moore, “and it was encouraging that the Provost really sees the potential of harnessing all of the interdisciplinary water prowess on this campus.”