Watch a Lightning Talk!

Lightning talks, given by conference registrants, highlight emerging solutions that can be applied to sustainable food systems in extreme environments and/or ongoing efforts by researchers, industry, foundations, and government agencies in this area.

We hope all participants will take some time during the conference to peruse the gallery of talks and watch a few (or more!). Thank you to the 76 people who submitted these creative, informative, and inspiring lightning talks!

A gallery of the talks is watchable below, or you can also find and watch all the videos directly on our YouTube channel.

Please note that these talks have not been screened or edited by the organizers. Conference organizers, sponsors, and partners do not endorse nor take responsibility for the contents of the videos.

Thematic Groupings:

Water management         Food security and food deserts         Sustainable energy production        Workforce development and education         Data modeling and forecasting         Other topics

 

Water Management

"Groundwater irrigation management in Bangladesh" - Rebecca Neumann

"Groundwater irrigation management in Bangladesh" - Rebecca Neumann

Lightning Talk: Groundwater irrigation management in Bangladesh: improving food safety and sustainability while mitigating climate change By Rebecca Neumann, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington Dry season irrigation with groundwater has increased rice production and food security in Bangladesh. However, widespread use of contaminated groundwater is loading hazardous levels of arsenic to rice field soils; arsenic is entering rice plants, decreasing yields and jeopardizing food safety. Additionally, current irrigation practices emit greenhouse gases and are vulnerable to changes in groundwater availability. These issues are exacerbated by the fact that much of the water applied to rice fields is lost down the raised boundaries around field edges (i.e., bunds). Stopping bund water loss is a straightforward way to minimize groundwater abstraction and simultaneously reduce arsenic loading to field soils and emission of greenhouse gases. Three possible solutions exist. Farmers could seal bunds with a material, plow through and rebuild bunds each season, or get rid of bunds by merging nearby fields and collectively cultivating one large combined field. A pilot study focused on sealing bunds with a material demonstrated the practice reduced groundwater use and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 to 60% and reduced arsenic loading to field soils by 10 to 40%. The greater savings were associated with smaller fields that have more perimeter or bund exposure to planted field area. *** As part of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Convergence Accelerator Conference for Food Security in Extreme Environments and Food Deserts on 19-21 May 2021, participants submitted lightning talks exploring emerging solutions that can be applied to sustainable food systems in extreme environments and/or ongoing efforts by researchers, industry, foundations, and government agencies in this area. These talks have not been screened or edited by the organizers, and conference organizers, sponsors, and partners do not endorse nor take responsibility for the contents of the videos. For more information about the Conference, visit www.convergentfoodsystems.org.
"Multi-scale solutions in over-exploited aquifer systems" - Itza Mendoza-Sanchez

"Multi-scale solutions in over-exploited aquifer systems" - Itza Mendoza-Sanchez

Lightning Talk: Multi-scale solutions in over-exploited aquifer systems By Itza Mendoza-Sanchez, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, Texas A&M University In many semi-arid regions, aquifers have watered the Green Revolution vastly increasing food security and economic well-being. As water tables fall, however, rising concentrations of anthropogenic and geogenic contaminants make the water toxic for human consumption. Taking lessons from our work in the State of Guanajuato, Mexico, we describe a framework for a coupled hydrologic-public health-economic model to account for losses and gains incurred by a basin’s residents and stake-holders by various water management and mitigation strategies. Such an accounting model can help inform decisions made by policy makers at all levels and ultimately help curb the over-exploitation of the shared resource by revealing previously hidden feedbacks between pumping, human health, livelihoods, profits and tax revenue. *** As part of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Convergence Accelerator Conference for Food Security in Extreme Environments and Food Deserts on 19-21 May 2021, participants submitted lightning talks exploring emerging solutions that can be applied to sustainable food systems in extreme environments and/or ongoing efforts by researchers, industry, foundations, and government agencies in this area. These talks have not been screened or edited by the organizers, and conference organizers, sponsors, and partners do not endorse nor take responsibility for the contents of the videos. For more information about the Conference, visit www.convergentfoodsystems.org.
"Engineering & applying soft materials for sustainable water management, food security" -Sujit Datta

"Engineering & applying soft materials for sustainable water management, food security" -Sujit Datta

Lightning Talk: Engineering and applying soft materials for sustainable water management and food security By Sujit Datta, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, High Meadows Environmental Institute, Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials In this talk, I describe how we use studies of soft materials -- liquids, gels, colloids, and even cells -- in see-through mimics of soils, sediments, and groundwater aquifers to develop fundamental insights for more sustainable water management and food security. As an example, I highlight our work developing principles to engineer hydrogels for water management in agriculture and low-energy clean water harvesting from atmosphere/polluted water sources. *** As part of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Convergence Accelerator Conference for Food Security in Extreme Environments and Food Deserts on 19-21 May 2021, participants submitted lightning talks exploring emerging solutions that can be applied to sustainable food systems in extreme environments and/or ongoing efforts by researchers, industry, foundations, and government agencies in this area. These talks have not been screened or edited by the organizers, and conference organizers, sponsors, and partners do not endorse nor take responsibility for the contents of the videos. For more information about the Conference, visit www.convergentfoodsystems.org.
 

Food Security and Food Deserts

"Better Bioprotectants for People, Plants and Pollinators" - Bryan Berger

"Better Bioprotectants for People, Plants and Pollinators" - Bryan Berger

Lightning Talk: Better Bioprotectants for People, Plants and Pollinators By Bryan Berger, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Virginia; CSO and founder, Lytos Technologies We are a diverse group of scientists at the University of Virginia who love protein structure and function, and we develop biomolecular technologies to solve important biomedical, environmental and industrial challenges. Our work directly addresses challenges in food security in extreme environments through engineering biomolecules to combat microbial pathogens. In partnership with stakeholders such as USDA, Air Products and Bayer, we develop biomolecular tools as drop-in technologies to remove foodbore pathogens. I also founded a start-up (Lytos Technologies) that makes bioprotectants that are safe for people, plants and pollinators with a focus on pre- and post-harvest crop protection. *** As part of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Convergence Accelerator Conference for Food Security in Extreme Environments and Food Deserts on 19-21 May 2021, participants submitted lightning talks exploring emerging solutions that can be applied to sustainable food systems in extreme environments and/or ongoing efforts by researchers, industry, foundations, and government agencies in this area. These talks have not been screened or edited by the organizers, and conference organizers, sponsors, and partners do not endorse nor take responsibility for the contents of the videos. For more information about the Conference, visit www.convergentfoodsystems.org.
"Electrochemical fixation and upcycling of nitrogen" - Wenzhen Li

"Electrochemical fixation and upcycling of nitrogen" - Wenzhen Li

Lightning Talk: Electrochemical fixation and upcycling of nitrogen By Wenzhen Li, Associate Professor, Chemical & Biological Engineering Department, Iowa State University Electrochemical fixation of unreactive N2 gas and upcycling of nitrogen-containing waste streams provide a sustainable approach to distributed production of ammonia fertilizers, which is critical to addressing the food security challenge. This talk reviews the challenges of current electrochemical nitrogen reduction (eNRR), and provides our vision on distributed ammonia manufacturing, including renewable H2 from water electrolysis for small size Haber-Bosch reactors, Lithium-mediated indirect eNRR, and non-thermal plasma N2 oxidative fixation coupled with electrochemical reduction of reactive NOx species. *** As part of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Convergence Accelerator Conference for Food Security in Extreme Environments and Food Deserts on 19-21 May 2021, participants submitted lightning talks exploring emerging solutions that can be applied to sustainable food systems in extreme environments and/or ongoing efforts by researchers, industry, foundations, and government agencies in this area. These talks have not been screened or edited by the organizers, and conference organizers, sponsors, and partners do not endorse nor take responsibility for the contents of the videos. For more information about the Conference, visit www.convergentfoodsystems.org.
 

Sustainable Energy Production

"MicroFEWs: Using Renewable Energy to Impact Food Security in Remote, Cold-Region Environments"

"MicroFEWs: Using Renewable Energy to Impact Food Security in Remote, Cold-Region Environments"

Lightning Talk: MicroFEWs: Using Renewable Energy to Impact Food, Energy, and Water Security in Remote, Cold-Region Environments By Erin Whitney, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP), University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) MicroFEWs is a research project funded by the National Science Foundation to explore how existing and potential renewable energy projects affect food, energy, and water (FEW) security in rural Alaska. The project combines community visits and surveys with engineering studies to probe these linkages and feedbacks, and it also explores optimization of modular FEW infrastructure to enhance community security. Dr. Whitney and the project team will describe the project and share some of the components and findings from this work. *** As part of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Convergence Accelerator Conference for Food Security in Extreme Environments and Food Deserts on 19-21 May 2021, participants submitted lightning talks exploring emerging solutions that can be applied to sustainable food systems in extreme environments and/or ongoing efforts by researchers, industry, foundations, and government agencies in this area. These talks have not been screened or edited by the organizers, and conference organizers, sponsors, and partners do not endorse nor take responsibility for the contents of the videos. For more information about the Conference, visit www.convergentfoodsystems.org.
"Low-Cost Solar Racking with Tensegrity" - Shamsul Arefeen

"Low-Cost Solar Racking with Tensegrity" - Shamsul Arefeen

Lightning Talk: Low-Cost Solar Racking with Tensegrity By Shamsul Arefeen, Doctoral Student, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Texas Tech University Tensegrity is evaluated as a low-cost support structure for solar photovoltaic arrays. Besides, offering a lightweight, low-cost and flexible solution for solar racking, it unlocks possibilities of synergistic applications of solar energy such as agrivoltaics (farming under the shade of solar panels) and water canal covering (covering water bodies like canals with solar panels to prevent water evaporation and generating electricity). This would also enable other actions relevant to food security by readily producing renewable energy in agricultural lands and water bodies to facilitate required on-demand activities like irrigation. *** As part of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Convergence Accelerator Conference for Food Security in Extreme Environments and Food Deserts on 19-21 May 2021, participants submitted lightning talks exploring emerging solutions that can be applied to sustainable food systems in extreme environments and/or ongoing efforts by researchers, industry, foundations, and government agencies in this area. These talks have not been screened or edited by the organizers, and conference organizers, sponsors, and partners do not endorse nor take responsibility for the contents of the videos. For more information about the Conference, visit www.convergentfoodsystems.org.
"Pennycress as an oilseed cash cover crop for food, feed, and biofuel production" - John Sedbrook

"Pennycress as an oilseed cash cover crop for food, feed, and biofuel production" - John Sedbrook

Lightning Talk: Developing pennycress as an oilseed cash cover crop for food, feed, and biofuel production By John Sedbrook, Professor of Genetics, School of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University, Director of the DOE Integrated Pennycress Resilience Project (IPReP) Pennycress (Thlaspi arvense; field pennycress) is under development as a winter annual oilseed bioenergy crop for the 80 million-acre U.S. Midwest Corn Belt and other temperate regions. Pennycress is a Brassica with a diploid genome, closely related to rapeseed canola, carinata, camelina, and Arabidopsis, and having unique attributes such as extreme cold tolerance and rapid spring growth. Off-season integration of domesticated pennycress varieties into existing corn and soybean acres would extend the growing season on established croplands, avoid displacement of food crops, provide ecosystem benefits including reduced fertilizer runoff and soil erosion, and yield up to 3 billion gallons of seed oil and 20 million metric tons of protein-rich seed meal annually. This lightning talk will provide an overview of how pennycress is being rapidly developed into the cash crop named Covercress, with the goal of an initial commercial planting on 50,000 acres in the fall of 2022. *** As part of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Convergence Accelerator Conference for Food Security in Extreme Environments and Food Deserts on 19-21 May 2021, participants submitted lightning talks exploring emerging solutions that can be applied to sustainable food systems in extreme environments and/or ongoing efforts by researchers, industry, foundations, and government agencies in this area. These talks have not been screened or edited by the organizers, and conference organizers, sponsors, and partners do not endorse nor take responsibility for the contents of the videos. For more information about the Conference, visit www.convergentfoodsystems.org.
 

Workforce Development and Education