New ‘water cluster’ will strengthen interdisciplinary water programs

The number of people who live in areas with water scarcity is expected to rise from 1.6 billion today to 2.8 billion by 2025, according to the World Bank. Integrated approaches to water resources management are needed to meet the water shortage challenges and mitigate the anticipated impacts of climate change.

The college already has significant strengths in its water research, education, and Extension programs. To achieve its goal of establishing a premier water resources program, the college — in collaboration with the College of Natural Resources and Environment — is adding seven tenure-track faculty positions to address water-related issues. The new faculty members are collectively being called the Water Cluster.

The departments of crop and soil environmental sciences and biological systems engineering will each add two water experts, with the remaining three positions located in the College of Natural Resources and Environment. These faculty members will complement Virginia Tech’s existing water science expertise by exploring interdisciplinary subjects as diverse and complex as water itself, including the effects of climate change on agriculture, management of water and natural resources, transport of chemicals to surface water and groundwater, and development of decision-support tools to mitigate the negative impacts of human activities.

“We currently have an exceptional group of scientists and engineers who are examining the many challenges facing the management of water resources and quality,” said Saied Mostaghimi, associate dean of research and graduate studies. “These new positions will effectively integrate our research, education, and Extension programs and allow us to conduct interdisciplinary programs by bridging water science and engineering with social sciences to more effectively address global water issues.”