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Northwestern and BGU Collaborate on Water Research

Northwestern and BGU Collaborate on Water Research

September 12, 2017

Desert & Water Research, Press Releases

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Northwestern University (NU) signed a research memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Tel Aviv yesterday to collaborate on water research. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Aviv Ezra, consul general of Israel to the Midwest, participated in the signing (standing).

The MOU was signed by (sitting left to right) BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi; Prof. Dan Blumberg, BGU’s vice president and dean for research and development; Prof. Aaron Packman of NU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of the Center for Water Research; and Prof. Fruma Yehiely, NU associate vice president for research.

The agreement is a follow up to successful collaborations between the University of Chicago (UC) and BGU. Mayor Emanuel was also present during the signing of that agreement in 2013 at the Israeli president’s residence.

Today, at Israel’s largest international water conference and exhibition, WATEC 2017, Mayor Emanuel said, “Four years ago, Ben-Gurion University and the University of Chicago started a joint project. We already have one commercial product out of that and numerous papers have been published.

“We are bringing together the heartland of America with the Holy Land; we are bringing both the Mideast and the Midwest together and our view of abundance with your view of scarcity, and hopefully something beautiful will come of that,” said Emanuel, who was for a time President Obama’s chief of staff. See a video of the mayor’s remarks here >>

An interdisciplinary team from BGU’s world-renowned Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research and the Northwestern Center for Water Research will include hydrologists, soil scientists, geologists, chemists, microbiologists, and engineers. The result will be a groundbreaking scientific partnership to investigate environmental challenges and develop solutions for water-related problems through new research projects, as well as student and faculty collaborations.

“BGU is a longtime leader in water research,” said Prof. Blumberg, “We are pleased to be joining forces with Northwestern University following the success of the University of Chicago-BGU collaboration.”

Prof. Packman said, “This partnership substantially increases opportunities for Northwestern faculty and students to collaborate with peers in Israel, and allows us to contribute to solutions [for water scarcity challenges] faced by the Middle East and other arid regions. This is an important step toward the vision of broader collaboration on water with Israel that was developed jointly by the Water Center and the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies at Northwestern.”

NU’s Center for Water Research was created in March 2016 to link its water research efforts in basic sciences, technology development, law and policy, and systems analysis and simulation to addressing challenges in water systems’ sustainability and efficiency. BGU’s Zuckerberg Institute was founded in 2002.

Two projects between NU and BGU are already underway:

  • Novel Tools for the Cross-cultural Assessment of Water Insecurity and Water Interventions: Sera Young, Northwestern; Noam Weisbrod, BGU; and Hwong-wen Ma, National Taiwan University
  • Next Generation Water Treatment Technology for Brine Management and Decentralized Water Supply: Kyoo Chul Park, Northwestern; Neelesh Patankar, Northwestern; and Jack Gilron, BGU

A number of successful joint research projects have emerged from the UC-BGU ongoing collaboration that began four years ago. The collaboration is led by Prof. Moshe Gottlieb from BGU and Prof. Matthew Tirrell from UC:

  • Moti Herskowitz (BGU) and Prof. Steven Sibener (UC) led the team that developed a novel catalytic system for decomposition of industrial organic waste. The commercialization process is underway.
  • Eilon Adar (BGU) and Prof. Reika Yokochi (UC) led the team that developed a new hydrological water dating technique and instrumentation, enabling for the first time the ability to track the downstream evolution of groundwater ages along the flow trajectories. Steps for commercialization are being explored.
  • Moshe Gottlieb (BGU) and Prof. Matthew Tirrell (UC) led the team that developed a new anti-biofouling coating for desalination membranes.
  • A novel method for marine cleanup of oil spills. Large scale experiments will be carried out in the near future. (UC scientist Dr. Seth Darling secured funds independently after the initial joint project).

About BGU’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research

The Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, Israel’s largest and leading water institute, conducts interdisciplinary, cutting-edge research and graduate education in water sciences, aimed at improving human well-being through technologies and policies for sustainable use of water resources. World-renowned Zuckerberg researchers are focused on desalination technologies and groundwater production, water quality and microbiology, as well as water resource economics and management. Zuckerberg graduate programs attract students from all corners of the world who are involved in research projects and collaborations in both developed and underdeveloped countries. Named for New York philanthropist Roy J. Zuckerberg, the Institute was founded in 2002 within the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research at the Sede Boqer Campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. For more information, visit www.aabgu.org/water.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. Activities include showcasing BGU’s academic excellence and cutting-edge research through educational programs, events and informative communications. AABGU’s main purpose is to support Ben-Gurion’s vision and the university that bears his name by creating a community of Americans committed to improving the world tomorrow from the heart of the Israeli desert today.

Media Contact:
Andrew Lavin
A. Lavin Communications