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Project // Innovation at the Nexus of Food-Energy-Water Systems (INFEWS) Scholar Program

The National Science Foundation in the the United States funds a research traineeship program with UT Austin and Prairie View A&M University to foster innovation in the food-energy-water-systems nexus. Research themes include disruptive technology for resource recovery from energy and water for agricultural practices, decision support models for new energy and water resources in agriculture and global assessment of policy and technology diffusion.



Preparing the next generation of leaders to create transformational solutions for water-stressed agricultural lands.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Traineeship program at The University of Texas at Austin prepares students from diverse backgrounds to become future leaders in the STEM workforce, address the most complex energy and water challenges for agriculture, and fill knowledge gaps in this research area.


The challenge is addressing water scarcity in agriculture, where drought, overuse of water resources, deteriorating water quality, and climate change are contributing to water shortages in agriculture. Water scarcity is a major concern because irrigated farms contribute to approximately half of US crop sales, greater yields, reduced poverty, affordable and positive health and nutrition outcomes.

New, bold and transformative solutions are needed to provide inexpensive and plentiful water for agriculture, from harnessing off-peak or dedicated renewable energy supplies to taking advantage of innovations in systems integration, smart grid technology, and resource recovery from unconventional water resources.

Focus Areas

  • Disruptive technologies for resource recovery of energy and water for agriculture practices
  • Decision support models for new energy and water resources in agricultural practices
  • Global assessment of policy and technology diffusion

Major Research Efforts/Topics – details of potential new research projects are described below:

  • Catalytic Nitrogen Recovery from Unconventional Water Sources to Offset Energy Demands for Agricultural Water Treatment
  • Recovery of Value-Added Products from Petrochemical Wastewater
  • Mobile Renewable Energy Power Systems for Remote Water Pumping Applications
  • Dynamic Simulation Model for New Water Resources in Sustainable Agriculture
  • Synergistic Distributed Systems: Renewable Electricity and Water Recycling
  • Energy and Climate Policy Impacts on Agricultural Land Use, Water Use and Food Production
  • Adapting Water Management to Climate Extremes

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The INFEWS Scholar Program has four components to provide students with the skills necessary to tackle complex societal problems:

  • Complete interdisciplinary coursework through the food-energy-water-systems portfolio program, including a sustainable agriculture summer course with our partners at Prairie View A&M University.
  • Engage in experiential learning, explore relevant food-energy-water (FEWS) topics, and more by participating in the weekly seminar with team/cohort
  • Develop communication and job preparation skills through the career development portfolio program
  • Conduct cutting-edge research and focus on critical challenges at the FEWS nexus


We are attracting highly motivated and engaged students from all STEM disciplines, all backgrounds and all life experiences.

Graduate standing required as well as participating advisor in any of the following UT Austin schools:

  • Cockrell School of Engineering
  • Jackson School of Geosciences
  • LBJ School of Public Affairs

Two-year fellowships are available to qualifying students.


Contact Program Coordinator Laura Klopfenstein

Further Information

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