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.

The working group met for two days at UC Davis in January 2018 to address critical issues and research opportunities in water and energy efficiencies and food loss reduction in agricultural and food processing.  The aim was to form a strategic partnership for short and long term knowledge production and dissemination.  At this meeting, Andre Daccache, Assistant Professor in the UC Davis Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering agreed to assume leadership for planning collaborative opportunities.  The workshop was funded through a Global Affairs Seed Grant with matching funds from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering, the College of Engineering, and the Sustainability Research and Training Program.


Water-Energy-Food Nexus Workshop (January 2018)

WEF Nexus researchers met at UC Davis in January, 2018.  They prioritized initial projects to include:

Desalinized water for food production, to be lead by AUC, Egypt Food waste survey, to be lead by AUB, Lebanon Value added products from olive oil, to be lead by Birzeit University, Palestine WEF Nexus opportunities at refugee sites Development of an online course on Water Energy Food Nexus that we can all contribute course content.

In addition to the core WEF Nexus research team listed above, Line Koleilat, Dept. of Nutrition and Food Sciences from AUB participated.  The following UC Davis faculty also participated in the workshop: Khaled Bali, UC Cooperative Extension; Heather Bischel,  Civil & Environmental Engineering; Jill Brigham, Food Science and Technology; Andre Daccach, Biological and Agricultural Engineering; Isaya Kisekka, Dept. of Land, Air and Water Resources; Laura Foglia, Dept. of Land, Air and Water Resources; Suad Joseph, Anthropology and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies; Maureen Kinyua, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Christopher Simmons, Food Science & Technology; and Edward Spang, Food Science & Technology.


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). 




Kazi Fattah, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Research Interests: Before joining AUS, Dr. Fattah worked as an environmental engineering consultant in Canada and as a faculty member at the University of Asia Pacific in Bangladesh. His research interests are in the design, operation, optimization and environmental management of water and wastewater treatment systems; removal and recovery of nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) from wastewater; the treatment of desalination reject water; and water reuse and application of membrane in water treatment. He is actively involved with the Water Environment Research Foundation, an international research body, and a reviewer for various journals and conferences.



Dr. Mustafa Ibrahim Mustafa Khamis

Professor, 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.



Bryan Jenkins, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Research Interests: 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.


Andre Daccache UC Davis Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Andre Daccache, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Research interests: Dr. Daccache’s research focuses on precision irrigation, remote sensing, crop and soil spacial variability, hydraulics of pipeline systems, crop modeling, water resources management, irrigation engineering, and climate change impact analysis.





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, Ph.D

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, Ph.D.

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.




Suad Joseph, Ph.D.

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

Dr. Joseph founded the BCBCB 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 Anthropology.  She 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.

Related Programs: Sustainability Research Training Program