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INNOVATIONS AT THE NEXUS OF FOOD, ENERGY, AND WATER SYSTEMS

Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWS) is a partnership between NSF and the United States Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture to support research that aims to understand, design, and model the interconnected food, energy, and water infrastructure through an interdisciplinary research effort that addresses the natural, social, and human-built factors involved. The need for this research is increasingly urgent, as growing demand for food, changes in land use, and increasing geographic and seasonal variability in precipitation patterns are placing an ever-increasing stress on these critical resources. INFEWS supports research on the fundamental science and engineering questions at the food, energy, water (FEW) nexus and training of the next generation of researchers in this interdisciplinary area. The program seeks proposals from groups of researchers on interdisciplinary efforts using systems methodology.

INFEWS proposals are to be submitted to one of four distinct tracks, each reflecting a different objective:

-- Track 1: FEW System Modeling: "The goal is to define and understand the couplings/linkages, feedback mechanisms and processes among the FEW systems components and to elucidate the factors that influence resilience, thresholds and criticalities. [...] [INFEWS] projects should enable innovative perspectives and advances in understanding and modeling complex systems processes. Development of advanced computational methods and effective means for incorporation of large quantities of disparate data, as implemented in new and novel software and tools, is also appropriate."

Additional key phrases of interest to mathematical scientists in the Track 1 description include: "define/quantify spatially heterogeneous FEW systems responses to various internal and external driving factors that occur on both short and long timescales," "evaluate minimization-of-risk with respect to FEW services, [...] and the impact of mitigation and adaptation with respect to minimization-of-risk."

--Track 2: Visualization and Decision Support for Cyber-Human-Physical Systems at the FEW Nexus: "[...] seeks to develop the core system science needed to understand the interactions between these diverse but closely coupled components that operate at multiple temporal and spatial scales.[...] Research challenges include, but are not limited to new methods, and data science algorithms for integrating multiple, heterogeneous, and high-volume FEW data from physical, ecological, engineered, and social sources, [...] modeling approaches and algorithms that can capture FEW component interactions at multiple temporal and spatial scales and support cyber- human-physical system resource management."

-- Track 3: Research to Enable Innovative System Solutions: "Sustainability solutions might incorporate physical sciences, biological sciences, computer sciences, institutional, economic, behavioral, and technical components."

-- Track 4: Education and Workforce Development: Seeks "... to develop a cadre of citizens, scientists and engineers capable of thinking across FEW disciplines and systems. [...] NSF (principally, but not exclusively) plans to make a limited number of Track 4 awards to support virtual resource centers. The students affiliated with the resource centers will engage in interdisciplinary research while developing expertise in their primary fields."

(to be continued...)