From Lab to Living Room, UNL Research Makes a Difference
A message from University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken
Energy, climate and sustainability have long been high priorities for the University of Nebraska. As you will see by the diversity of stories in these pages- water conservation and law, alternative energy, innovations in agriculture, climate change and others- the task of creating a more sustainable future for our planet will require putting all of our best minds to work. The University of Nebraska is committed to this collaborative approach, and we are positioned to make key contributions to global advancements in these fields.
The Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute is one excellent example of how the university, as a land-grant institution, is leveraging its resources- the talents of our faculty, staff and students; partnerships with constituents across the state; and generosity and support from visionary philanthropists- to serve Nebraska and the world. The Daugherty Institute was established in 2010 with a mission of providing research, education and policy analysis related to the use of water for agriculture. The need for the institute is clear: By 2050, the world's population will increase by 40 percent, and demand for food will double. We must develop strategies to produce much more food with the same amounts of land and water... and we must do it quickly.
The Institute is off to an impressive start: we are close to hiring an executive director, actively collaborating with a number of partners internationally in both the private and government sectors, and advancing a highly targeted and strategic research agenda. This May, together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we hosted the third annual Water for Food Conference, attracting internationally renowned speakers and 400 participants from more than 20 countries. During the conference, we signed an international education partnership agreement focused on water and food security with the UNESCOIHE Institute for Water Education in The Netherlands- an important opportunity for Nebraska students and students abroad.
The man for whom the Board of Regents chose to name the Institute, Bob Daugherty, was the founder of Valmont Industries, the largest center-pivot irrigation company in the world, and a pioneer of modern agriculture. He saw the potential of the University of Nebraska to play a leading role in improving the world's condition by working to alleviate hunger and food insecurity. He recognized that the university has a rich history in water research and education, a network of farmers and ranchers in Nebraska on whose wisdom we can rely, and that our state offers a "natural laboratory" that makes it an ideal place for the study of water and agriculture. This is why Bob provided the $50 million founding gift to the university to establish the Water for Food Institute.
Sadly, Bob passed away in November 2010. Through the Daugherty Institute, we are now working to carry out his vision- a vision to create healthier, higher quality, more productive lives for people in Nebraska and around the world. Look for great things from the Institute in the years ahead.
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