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International symposium focused on food-energy-water research lands at University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Dean of AgResearch & Director of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station Hongwei Xin (from left), Senior Vice Chancellor & Senior Vice President University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Keith Carver, University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd, ORNL Associate Director Paul Langan, Vice Provost for International Affairs & Director of the Center for Global Engagement Gretchen Niesler, and FEWSUS Director Jie (Joe) Zhuang, attend the opening of the FEWSUS symposium at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on March 18, 2024.

On Monday, March 18, researchers with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory kicked off an international symposium focused on efforts to make urban and rural communities healthy and resilient to changes in climate, demographics, natural resources, and ecosystems.

Opening remarks were provided by University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd, Senior Vice Chancellor & Senior Vice President University of Tennessee Institute ofAgriculture Keith Carver, and ORNL AssociateDirector Paul Langan.

University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd provides opening remarks during the FEWSUS symposium on March 18, 2024, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

The“Food-Energy-Water Bioeconomiesfor Net-Zero Transition” international conference runs through March 20 in Knoxville. The interdisciplinary conference is sponsored through a U.S. National Science Foundation grant awarded to a team led by Jie (Joe) Zhuang, professor of environmental soil science in the UT Institute of Agriculture, to build a global transdisciplinary network of food, energy, and water (FEW)-converged research. This international project, called FEWSUS, is intended to help FEW-nexus researchers think at a systems level for exploring solutions to complex system problems and inspire outreach and engagement across nations and disciplines to support urban and rural co-prosperity as food, energy and water resources become more limited throughout the world.

The symposium offers a transdisciplinary forum for researchers, stakeholders, and students to exchange and converge knowledge, perspectives, and practices as well as build collaborative teams in the following areas:

  • Circular bioeconomy systems
  • Net zero urban system
  • Sustainability of renewable energy technologies
  • Food-energy-water nexus for one-health ecosystems

“The goal of this conference is to synthesize publications that summarize current research and priority findings and needs to support convergence of future research, policy development, and stakeholder perception,” said Zhuang, who serves as the FEWSUS director.

The symposium features nearly 90 participants. Speakers hail from at least 16 countries including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and the United States. Topics include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, sustainable development, climate-smart technologies, urban wetlands and agriculture, water pollution, precision livestock farming, bio-based batteries, among many others.

The conference is organized by Zhuang and Gretchen Neisler, vice provost for international affairs for UT Knoxville and director of the Center for Global Engagement, with help from a 12-member committee. A scientific committee is chaired by David Zilberman professor in the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department at the University of California, Berkeley, and Brad Day, associate vice chancellor for research innovation initiatives at UT Knoxville.

For more information, visit the conference website:

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is comprised of the Herbert College of Agriculture, UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch and UT Extension. Through its land-grant mission of teaching, research and outreach, the Institute touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. to Tennesseans and beyond.

The Center for Global Engagement, reporting directly to the Office of the Provost, works to lead, coordinate, and support the university’s strategies for global education, research, and engagement.