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Oct. 11, 2023

MSU to address global water issues through new alliance

Water is the most precious and essential resource for life on Earth. It is a key component of many biological processes and is essential to many industries, such as agriculture, energy production and manufacturing. Given its importance in every aspect of our lives, it’s no surprise that finding solutions to complex water challenges like climate change and pollution require an aligned effort.


Headshot of Joan Rose.
Joan Rose is the Homer Nowlin Endowed Chair in Water Research in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She is leading the MSU Water Alliance, which is conducted by MSU’s Office of Research and Innovation in partnership with MSU AgBioResearch, MSU Extension and the Homer Nowlin Endowment. Courtesy photo.

This is why Michigan State University has harnessed its vast water research expertise to create the MSU Water Alliance. This will be a bridging organization among existing water science units on campus and among faculty with water expertise to address challenges, which are immense, said Joan Rose, the Homer Nowlin Endowed Chair in Water Research in MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, who will lead the MSU Water Alliance.

"PFAS and wastewater pollution is degrading rivers all over the world,” Rose said. “Pathogen risks are increasing and nutrient pollution in fresh water will cause algal blooms and make these waters unsuitable for drinking or recreation. In addition, climate change and weather instability will cause water and food shortages as well as natural disasters, which impact life and property.”

The demand for water science, technology and policy is great and will increase, said Doug Buhler, associate vice president for MSU’s Office of Research and Innovation.

“Water is a crucial and limited resource for human well-being that is threatened by global change,” Buhler said. “The integration of multiple disciplines and engaged approaches to address water challenges is urgently needed. Data science and engineering are especially critical to address climate change and water scarcity, which require the use of advanced computational technologies. These areas are a strength at MSU.”

Headshot of Doug Buhler.
Doug Buhler is associate vice president Michigan State University's Office of Research and Innovation. Courtesy photo.                                                                  

The alliance also will address environmental inequities that have arisen for key populations, Rose said. 

“We need to modernize water testing and water technology for a large portion of people who live in small, rural and recreational communities who are at increased risk due to water pollution associated with septic tanks, agricultural inputs, poor infrastructure and lack of assessment.”  

The MSU Water Alliance is led by MSU’s Office of Research and Innovation in partnership with MSU AgBioResearch, MSU Extension and the Homer Nowlin Endowment.

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