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Water, Energy, Food (WEF) Nexus Project

Water, energy and food security is an urgent global concern, and there is a critical need for a nexus approach that recognizes the inter-relationship between these resources. Researchers at UC Davis and the Arab region have been exploring potential opportunities to leverage their separate work on the intersections of water, energy and food.  The Arab region shares similar challenges with California: water access as a limiting factor in food production; food waste in the harvesting, processing, and increasing waste in the consumption phases; and high agriculture and food processing energy costs.  The UCDAR (UC Davis and Arab Region) Consortium established a Water-Energy-Food Nexus Committee comprised of researchers from the partnering universities in the region and from UC Davis to collaborate on a new project to apply a Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus framework to identify innovative solutions to minimize loss and waste in agriculture and food production in order to ensure water, energy and food security for future generations.  The project: “Minimizing the Losses of Water, Energy and Food throughout the Agriculture and Supply Chain Processes,” will examine WEF Nexus case studies in Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, UAE, and the U.S. (California) to identify country/region-specific challenges and opportunities, and share strategies and practices that can be applied in areas with similar conditions.

WEF Nexus Working Group



Mohamad Abiad, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Faculty Agricultural and Food Sciences 

Dr. Mohamad Abiad is an Associate Professor of Food Processing and Packaging at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut (AUB). He also holds an adjunct faculty position at the School of Packaging at Michigan State University (MSU). Dr. Abiad has a BE in Civil Engineering from AUB (1998), an MBA from the Lebanese American University (2002), and an MSE (2004) and a PhD (2009) from Purdue University.

Research interests:  Dr. Abiad’s research interests includes rheology of foods, polymers, emulsions and biomaterials; development of functional membranes for food packaging applications; food packaging design and development for traditional local foods; as well as investigating issues related to sustainability and recycling as it relates to the agro-food sector. Dr. Abiad is well published with more than 23 publications in peer reviewed scientific journals as well as 40 presentations in international and national conferences and meetings. 



Hani Sewilam, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Director, Center for Sustainable Development

Research interests & related experience: Sustainable Development and Natural Resources Management; Safe Wastewater use in Agriculture; Artificial Intelligence Modeling; Decision Support Systems; Integrated Water Resources Management 

Related experience: Prior to joining AUC as a professor for sustainable development and water resources management, Dr. Sewilam coordinated water management capacity development activities for United Nations. He is also working at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany as the academic director of the Department of Engineering Hydrology and executive director of the UNESCO Chair on Hydrological Changes and Water Resources Management. From 2002 to 2010, Sewilam worked as the deputy director for the Department of Engineering Hydrology at the RWTH Aachen University. He managed many international research and capacity building projects in 21 countries. In 2008, he established the first North African Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development (RCE Cairo). 


Randa Kaldas

Associate Director

Center for Sustainable Development


Peter Nasr, Ph.D.

The American University in Cairo



Dr. Mustafa Ibrahim Mustafa Khamis


Department of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences

Teaching Areas: Chemistry and Environmental Sciences 

Research Areas: Wastewater treatment technologies, wastewater reuse in agriculture, plant response and physiology as affected by saline nutrients and draught. Physico-chemical methods for analysis, chemical kinetics and thermodynamics in solution phase. Protein-nucleic acid interactions as well as spectroscopy at low temperatures 



Ahmed Abu-Hanieh, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics

Research interests: Sustainable Energy and resource efficiency

Related experiences: Dr. Abu-Hanieh helped establish a new master’s program in sustainable engineering at BZU.  He obtained his PhD in mechanical engineering from the Free University of Brussels. His specialties include:  active control of vibrations; operations and technology management; robotics; analog and digital control of mechanical systems.



Hussein Hassan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Food Science and Technology

Research interests: Non-microbial food safety and food processing, in specific, assessing the effects of processing technologies on the quality of locally made foods, in addition to identifying and preventing the occurrence of toxic residues in foods manufactured and marketed in Lebanon. 

Related experiences: Dr. Hussein Hassan received his Ph.D. in Food Process Engineering from McGill University, Canada. He is the recipient of the George Stewart International Competition Award (2011) by the Institute of Food Technologists (USA), in addition to the Stumbo Paper Competition Award (twice in 2010 and 2011) by the Institute of Food Thermal Processing Specialists, USA.



Mark Bell, Phd

Director, International Learning Center 

Mark Bell joined UC Davis in 2007 after spending 20 years based at International Agricultural Research Centers in both Mexico and the Philippines. Bell has a MSc in Soil Science from the University of Reading, UK and a PhD in Soil Science from the University of Queensland in Australia – where he also did his B Ag Sc. His interests have grown to focus on how we better provide poor farmers around the world with the information they need and want - looking at both traditional and new (information Communication Technology) methods in extension. He is a skilled field agronomist who has developed a number of major on-line diagnostic crop tools (e.g., Rice Doctor, Maize Dr and Wheat Dr).

He has spent considerable time working in the areas of research-extension linkages, adult education and the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to improve communication in Agricultural development and research. He led the project that developed the Rice Knowledge Bank – the world’s major repository for rice-oriented training and extension materials aimed to help developing countries - and presently leads the effort to develop Ag Extension, eAfghan Ag and e-China Apple. In recent years, he has spent considerable time working with various partners to build capacity in country extension systems - developing frameworks for implementation, identifying skills required (both technical and methodological) and looking for the potential opportunities to blend emerging tools with traditional approaches. See the Extension and ICT oriented sites. At UC Davis, he has led the development of the International Learning Center - the university’s innovation to develop and deliver international training courses.

Bell was Head of both International programs and the Training Center at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), where he led the project on bridging the gap between research and extension and where he also directed major bilateral projects in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos and Madagascar.


Bryan Jenkins, Ph.D

Professor, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and

2030 Bainer Hall

Bryan Jenkins teaches and conducts research in the areas of energy and power, with emphasis on biomass and other renewable resources. He has more than thirty years of experience working in the area of biomass thermochemical conversion including combustion, gasification, and pyrolysis. His research also includes analysis and optimization of energy systems. He teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses on energy systems, heat and mass transfer, solar energy, and power and energy conversion, including renewable energy and fuels, economic analysis, environmental impacts, fuel cells, engines, electric machines, fluid power, cogeneration, heat pumps, thermal storage, and other technologies. He is a recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the US Department of Energy for exceptional contributions to the development of bioenergy, and the Linneborn Prize from the European Union for outstanding contributions to the development of energy from biomass. Dr. Jenkins in Co-PI of the SRTP project and has submitted a proposal to UC Davis Global Affairs to convene WEF Nexus Committee at UC Davis.


Stephen Kaffka, Ph.D.

Director of the California Biomass Collaborative and Extension Specialist, Department of Plant Sciences

Research Interests: plant commodities and products; field crops; vegetable crops; natural resources and environment; soil, plant, water, nutrient relationships; management of saline and sodic soils and salinity. 

Related Experience: Dr. Kaffka participates on several advisory committees for the California Energy Commission and California Air Resources Board, including ex officio member of the Bioenergy Interagency Work Group.  From 2003 to 2007 he was director of the Long Term Research on Agricultural Systems Project.  As director he led the development of current and new projects focusing on sustainable agriculture.  His commodity assignments include sugar and oilseed crops.  Since coming to U.C. Davis in 1992, he has also carried out research on water quality and agriculture in the Upper Klamath Basin, and the reuse of saline drainage water for crop, forage, energy biomass feed stocks and livestock production in salt affected areas of the San Joaquin Valley.  He has received meritorious service awards from the American Society of Sugar Beet Technologists and the Soil and Water Conservation Society, is past president of the California chapter of the American Society of Agronomy, and past section leader for American Society of Agronomy’s division on environmental quality. 


Khaled Bali

Irrigation Water Management Specialist

Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center

Dr. Khaled Bali is currently the Irrigation Water Management Specialist at the University of California Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, CA. He has been with UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources since 1992 and served in different capacities as irrigation and water management advisor in Imperial County (1992-2016), UCCE county director in Imperial County (2009-2016) and two years as interim director of the UC Desert Research and Extension Center in Holtville (2012-2013 and 2014-2015).  He received his PhD in soil physics from UC Davis (1992), MS degree in irrigation and drainage from UC Davis (1987), and BS degree in soil and irrigation from the University of Jordan (1984). He is responsible for designing, implementing, and conducting educational and applied research programs in irrigation, drainage, water management, water quality, soil salinity, waste management, reuse of wastewater for irrigation and nonpoint source pollution control practices. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Jordan (2006-07) and conducted research on reuse of wastewater for irrigation and constructed wetlands to treat wastewater. 


Daniele Zaccaria

Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist

Department of Land, Air and Water Resources

Dr. Zaccaria specializes in agricultural water management and irrigation. Zaccaria completed his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering at Utah State University. He served as scientific officer at the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies in Italy before joining the UC Davis faculty in 2013.  His research interests include agricultural water management, irrigation, agriculture, fruit and nut trees, environment and natural resources.  His work focuses on modern agricultural water management solutions to improve resource efficiency in irrigated agriculture. Resource efficiency aims to decouple economic growth from environmental burdens. When this concept is applied to irrigated agriculture, it requires that design and management of irrigation systems enable growers to enhance the economic profits from farming activities, without generating adverse environmental effects.

He helps farmers optimize soil, water, and energy management, and find best practices for efficient and sustainable irrigation. When scaling-up efforts to the district and project level, he uses analytical approaches for performance evaluation and modernization of irrigation delivery systems.



Other Key UCD UCDAR Project Personnel


Suad Joseph, Ph.D.

Distinguished Research Professor of Anthropology and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies

Chair, UCDAR Steering Committee

Dr. Joseph founded the UCDAR Consortium in 2001 and continues to serve as the Chair.  Her anthropological field work has focused on her native Lebanon, politicization of religious sects, and the relationships between local community and community organizations and the state.  She founded many enduring organizations: the Middle East Research Group in Anthropology; the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies; the Arab Family Research Group; and co-founded the Arab American Studies Association and the Association for Middle East AnthropologyShe is founding Director of the Middle East/South Asia Studies Program at UC Davis and was awarded the UC Davis Prize – the largest undergraduate teaching and research prize in the United States.


Francesca Wright, M.P.A

Analyst, Sustainability Research and Training Program 

Francesca Wright has been supporting Dr. Joseph’s multiple projects since 2014. She as decades of experience as a senior consultant on numerous collaborative cross-sector projects in the areas of active living, sustainable agriculture, family support, mental health services, disaster relief, conflict resolution, education policy and international policy.  She holds a Master’s in Public Administration from University of Southern California and a B.S. from Wheelock College, Boston.


Jolynn Shoemaker, Esq.

Analyst, UCDAR Consortium

Jolynn Shoemaker has 16 years of experience in government, NGO’s, universities and think tanks, with a focus on international issues and gender equality.  Ms. Shoemaker has significant experience working with government, multilateral, and non-governmental stakeholders to improve human rights, good governance, rule of law, and sustainable international peace and security.  She holds a J.D. with an international law focus and an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. from University of California, San Diego.


Related Programs: Sustainability Research Training Program

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