SEPTEMBER 22, 2020 — UTSA has launched the Institute for Water Research, Sustainability and Policy. Led by Saugata Datta, the Weldon W. Hammond Jr. Endowed Distinguished Professor in Hydrogeology, the institute brings together faculty across UTSA to collaborate in the areas of water quality, water quantity, flood control and water policy.
Researchers will study the effect of climate change on water resources in the San Antonio area, South Texas region, I-10 corridor and the United States-Mexico border. Eventually, they will expand their studies to include national and international water issues and solutions.
“An institute based on water research is absolutely needed, based on the part of Texas where we live,” said Datta. “There was a need for understanding water availability, quantity and various aspects of water in terms of public health and economics because water plays a big role in terms of the economy of the city and state. The societal impact of water issues is significantly important in a state like Texas.”
The institute will investigate multidisciplinary water issues, such as hydro-terrorism and the food-water-energy nexus across regional, national and international political boundaries.
“UTSA is in a very pivotal geographical and political junction as well as the future sustainability scenario,” said Datta. “UTSA is playing a big role and one of the roles that can bring multiple scholars, researchers and students together is the theme of water. Water permeates every aspect of the disciplines at UTSA. I couldn’t imagine anyone better than UTSA to take a lead on water.”
In addition to geopolitical water research, members of the institute will seek to understand the resiliency of San Antonio’s drinking water resources as well as coastal water resources. Researchers from various disciplines will study the effects of hydrological processes, flood control, water quality, human behavior, remediation, and impacts on human and ecosystem health arising from stressors on coastal water resources.
“Since its very inception this institute has been designed as a comprehensive and highly collaborative unit, with members across all disciplines representing every college at UTSA,” said Jose Lopez-Ribot, associate dean for research in the College of Sciences. “As such, the new institute is truly transdisciplinary in nature. The institute places UTSA in a unique position to address water challenges in San Antonio, Texas and beyond—both in the present and the future.”
The institute’s core faculty includes researchers from the College of Sciences; College of Engineering; College for Health, Community and Policy; College of Liberal and Fine Arts; and College of Education and Human Development.
“UTSA has a rich history of interdisciplinary collaboration in all areas related to water, which has strengthened our ties to the San Antonio community, our region and poised us to guide water policies in similar regions,” said JoAnn Browning, dean of the College of Engineering. “This institute bridges multiple administrative structures to enable cross-cutting research that will shape the future of our cities and hometowns.”
Students will have access to cutting-edge technology in various laboratories across campus that are now part of the center’s umbrella of water research. They will also have the opportunity to participate in novel approaches to laboratory, field and modeling-based studies as they learn more about water science.
“We will be bringing in students from different disciplines,” said Datta. “We will also be reaching out to local community colleges as well as other universities around San Antonio.”
The institute plans to offer certificate-level courses and will implement masters and Ph.D. programs in the near future.
“The Institute for Water Research, Sustainability and Policy is an essential resource for the San Antonio community,” said David Silva, dean of the College of Sciences. “Our growing population and ongoing drought issues demand creative, science-based solutions. I am confident that the collaborative research coming out of this institute will positively impact San Antonio’s future.”
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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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