Professor Wins $750K NSF Grant to Create Research Network

July 31, 2019

New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) will use a $747,000 grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a research coordination network (RCN) that will study various aspects of the food, energy, and water (FEW) nexus for sustainable and resilient urban development. The project, led by Principal Investigator (PI) Ziqian (Cecilia) Dong, Ph.D. of NYIT, will allow researchers at NYIT and other prestigious universities and organizations to collaborate on this pressing topic.

Using a “city-as-lab” model, the grant will support in-depth study of New York City and Phoenix, Arizona. “New York City is a natural subject for study because it collects and shares valuable data, and its agencies have long engaged with experts to drive decision-making,” says Dong. Phoenix’s FEW challenges, meanwhile, present an enlightening climatic contrast to New York.

The RCN grew from prior NSF-funded NYIT workshops in  2014 and 2015 led by Nada Anid, Ph.D., vice president, Strategic Communications and External Affairs, and in 2017 and 2018 led by Dong, bringing experts from a range of backgrounds to study urban resilience in the face of increased flooding and other extreme weather conditions. “This group will collaborate to identify societal and policy barriers to FEW resource conservation and sustainability, and address knowledge gaps and research questions posed by academic, government, and business stakeholders,” said Dong.

Project co-PIs come from NYIT (Associate Professor of architecture Jeffrey Raven), CUNY’s Building Performance Lab at City College (Director Michael Bobker), and New York University (civil engineering Professor Masoud Ghandehari). Researchers come from several universities including Georgia Institute of Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology, Louisiana State University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Texas A&M, and University of Michigan. Researchers from Brookhaven National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research are participating as well. 

A long-range expectation of the RCN is to engage junior scholars and students and mentor them to become global sustainability scholars. Each year during the project, workshops will engage stakeholders and the academic community to identify challenges and co-develop knowledge and solutions. Students will engage with stakeholders to gain a solid grounding in FEW research and engage and collaborate on data curation, visualization, field experiences, and analysis for evidence-based decision-making.

Babak D. Beheshti, Ph.D., dean of NYIT College of Engineering and Computing Sciences, said, “This network will allow researchers to reach a wider audience and identify urban FEW problems around the world. Reaching the people who matter—policymakers and the public—is an essential part of preparing cities for foreseeable challenges.”

About New York Institute of Technology

New York Institute of Technology offers 90 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs in more than 50 fields of study, including computer science, data, and cybersecurity; biology and biomedical studies; architecture and design; engineering; health professions and medicine; IT and digital technologies; management; communications and marketing; education and counseling; and energy and sustainability. A nonprofit, independent, private, and nonsectarian institute of higher education, New York Institute of Technology welcomes more than 9,000 students worldwide. The university has campuses in New York City (Manhattan) and Long Island (Old Westbury), New York; Jonesboro, Arkansas; and Vancouver, British Columbia, as well as programs around the world.

New York Institute of Technology embraces its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, give all qualified students access to opportunity, and support research and scholarship that benefit the larger world. More than 100,000 alumni comprise an engaged network of doers, makers, and innovators prepared to change the world, solve 21st-century challenges, and reinvent the future.

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