J-WAFS at MIT develops new technologies addressing water and food challenges

Several new research projects have been supported in the latest round of seed grant funding announced by the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS), at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States.

The research includes projects such as:

  • Silk-based food safety sensor: The development of a silk-based food safety sensor that changes color based on the presence of common food viruses and diseases. The aim is to print inks, which are edible and visible to the naked eye, on food packaging or directly on food. This sensor could enable point-of-use detection of contamination and food spoilage for meat and dairy products.
  • New approaches to ensure safe drinking water: The problem of arsenic contamination in water occurs throughout the globe, and is particularly extreme in South Asia where over 100 million people experience daily exposure to dangerous concentrations of arsenic that occurs naturally in groundwater. J-WAFS funding will support the development of models to identify and disseminate more effective strategies that take into account how and where dangerous concentrations of arsenic exist to help promote water safety.
  • Improving understanding of soil and climate impacts on agriculture for improved crop production: Climate change is bringing temperature and precipitation changes that will increasingly stress the crops our global food system depends on, and these changes are affecting regions of the world. J-WAFS aims to improve future practices to breed plants for stress tolerance, such as droughts, by developing new tools to understand the structure and dynamics of the plant genes and how they respond to changes in the environment.

Eleven principal investigators working across six MIT departments will lead the projects, each of which has received a two-year grant of up to US$ 200,000.

Fady Mohammed Jameel, President of Community Jameel International, said: “J-WAFS is at the forefront of delivering real solutions to help tackle food and water challenges.  Since 2014, we have seen J-WAFS researchers develop technology that converts water from the air, even in arid conditions, while another project resulted in reduced storm-water runoff and improved water systems in urban centres.

J-WAFS research can make a real difference to communities, and at the same time is an opportunity to tackle some of the most pressing issues related to food and water safety and security in the Middle East and around the world.”

J-WAFS enables the world’s leading researchers to explore scalable solutions for water and food systems.  Since 2014, it has supported 30 research projects aiming to improve food and water safety and security.

John Lienhard, the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water and Food at MIT, said: “Investing in research results in creative innovations in food and water that will enable a sustainable future.  Further, these seed grants have repeatedly been leveraged by their recipients to develop significant follow-on programs, that further multiply the impact.”

Click here for a full list of J-WAFS’ current funded projects.

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