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Note from the Executive Director...
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Colleagues—

I hope all of you are having a good summer. Attached is the latest version of NEWSTide. Water continues to be at the center of the news cycle globally and locally, and I am grateful for our faculty and collaborators whose knowledge is helping people to understand, prepare for and forecast these events.
 
With thanks,
Scott
 
AWI Strategic Plan Addresses Global Water Research and Solutions
The Alabama Water Institute recently launched its five-year strategic plan. The plan, which echoes The University of Alabama’s goal of increasing productivity and innovation in research, scholarship and creative activities, focuses on the collaborations of water researchers at UA and federal, state and local agencies and industries.

AWI’s strategic plan will help UA to become a global leader in state, regional, national and international water issues. AWI can guide the shift in understanding, valuing and managing water for our nation and the global community to address all water-related challenges in the future.

VIDEO: AWI Executive Director Scott Rayder’s Town Hall on the plan

Read more about AWI’s Strategic Plan
 

National Awards for Early Career Research go to Four UA Professors

Four professors at The University of Alabama have earned prominent recognition by the National Science Foundation for their research efforts.

The NSF recently selected the professors for a CAREER Award, one of the country’s most prestigious recognition of top-performing young scientists. Included in the group is Dr. Aijun Song (bottom left), an Alabama Water Institute-affiliated faculty member and assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. With his award, Song will develop advanced subsea wireless sensor networks with a goal to promote ocean science progress and the development of the future ocean economy workforce.

Read more about UA’s NSF CAREER Award winners
 
UA Awarded $28M in National Science Foundation Funding in FY 2020
The University of Alabama received $28 million in awards from the National Science Foundation in fiscal year 2020, making it the top NSF-funded academic institution in the state by a significant margin.

Overall, the NSF awarded $69 million to institutions in the state, including $53.6 million for fundamental research and $15.5 million in STEM education. Alabama is also one of 28 U.S. states or territories under the NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR. Through that program, more than $11.6 million was awarded to academic institutions in the state.


See the FY 2020 NSF fact sheet for Alabama
UA Ph.D. Student Chosen for 2022 NOAA Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship
Sakinat Mojisola Ahmad in lab
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has selected Sakinat Mojisola Ahmad as a finalist for the Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. Ahmad is a Ph.D. student studying geology at The University of Alabama.

Ahmad was chosen through a highly competitive process to serve as one of 74 Knauss fellows, and she is the only finalist from an Alabama university. She will spend one year in Washington, D.C., gaining experience in policymaking in agencies and committees that deal with marine and coastal issues at the federal level. She will be involved in several interviews this fall to determine where she will work during her fellowship, which begins in February 2022.


Read more about Ahmad’s section as a Knauss fellow via the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium
UA’s Moftakhari Receives CERF Cronin Award
photo of Dr. Hamed Moftakhari
Dr. Hamed Moftakhari, assistant professor of civil, construction, and environmental engineering at The University of Alabama, was recently recognized by the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation with a Cronin Award, which recognizes the significant accomplishments of an estuarine scientist in the early stages of career development.

Moftakhari is a Gulf Research Program Early Career Research Fellow with the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. He is also an affiliated member of the Alabama Water Institute and UA Center for Complex Hydrosystems Research.


Read more about Moftakhari’s CERF award

UA Receives Study Abroad Award to Study Water Access, Quality

A collaborative effort involving The University of Alabama will allow students to study water access and quality in Alabama and Colombia.

The United States Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and Colombian Institute of Educational Loans and Study Abroad sponsored the 100K Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund competition. A collaboration from UA, Tuskegee University and the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia, will investigate water quality, access, expansion and cultural diversity in Alabama and Barranquilla, Colombia. The universities’ proposal titled “Alabama-Colombia: Water, Access, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Partnership” seeks to prepare students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics, commonly referred to as STEM, to solve global water issues while working in diverse teams.

Read more about the study abroad efforts
 
UA Researchers Studying How Communities can Better Respond to Flooding
The University of Alabama’s Center for Complex Hydrosystems Research, an affiliated center of the Alabama Water Institute, is developing a system to forecast hurricane-driven flooding in real time. In order to help communities better prepare for flooding caused by the storms, researchers are pinpointing flooding hotspots around the Southeast in hopes of not only helping coastal areas endure hurricanes, but also regions further inland that have the potential to flood as the storms dissipate.

Read more about the flood study
 

AWI Partners With Alabama Public Radio to Expand UA Water Research Awareness

The Alabama Water Institute has partnered with Alabama Public Radio to highlight the importance of AWI's water research to our state. These messages run multiple times per day on APR and can be heard all over Alabama.

Click here to listen to the messages
Around Alabama ...
Sewell’s Decentralized Wastewater Grant Act Included in the INVEST in America Act
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell recently announced that several projects for Alabama’s 7th District have been included in the INVEST in America Act. One of those is the Decentralized Wastewater Grant Act, which will help families in low and moderate-income areas connect their homes to existing wastewater infrastructure or install or upgrade independent decentralized wastewater systems.

Many areas, such as Alabama’s Black Belt region, have severe wastewater issues. The University of Alabama is part of The Consortium for Alabama Rural Water and Wastewater Management, which is leading an effort to tackle those problems and is supported by
 Columbia World Projects and other federal grants.

Read more about the Decentralized Wastewater Grant Act
U.S. Water News
photo of meteorological monitor of climatic conditions
The Time May Finally Be Ripe for a National Climate Service
A national climate service, similar to the National Weather Service, could be the answer for communities seeking insight on a variety of climate issues, such as droughts and floods.

Alabama Water Institute Executive Director Scott Rayder, at the time NOAA’s chief of staff under former President George W. Bush, considered the idea of creating a centralized hub for federal climate data and fostering it in subsequent administrations. While the service has yet to be established, there could be a renewed interest.

Read more about the potential for a national climate service
 
Richard W. Spinrad Sworn in as NOAA Chief
Richard W. “Rick” Spinrad was recently sworn in as the new NOAA administrator by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.

Spinrad, a professor of oceanography at Oregon State University, retired as NOAA's chief scientist in 2016. Spinrad took the oath virtually, with his wife, Alanna, next to him. The Senate voted to confirm him on a unanimous voice vote. Nominated in April by President Biden, Spinrad fills a job that had been left vacant since 2017.

Spinrad, who has 40 years of experience working on ocean, atmosphere and climate science and policy, will oversee NOAA's nearly 12,000 employees around the world and will be responsible for setting the agency's overall strategic direction.


Read more about Spinrad
Podcast Art

AWI Podcasts Highlight
Water Research Faculty and Efforts


The Alabama Water Institute created the AWI Podcast as a way to introduce our affiliated faculty members and students, to help showcase their work and to show how their research is helping to improve every aspect of water across all walks of life.

There are one-on-one interviews with our researchers, but also some of their public talks at workshops and conferences. Topics have included hurricanes and coastal response, wastewater management, helping citizens in rural areas gain access to clean water, chemical effects on fish behavior and telling the history of streamflow before written records.

New interviews are added often and can be accessed by searching for “Alabama Water Institute” on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, iHeartRadio and Stitcher. Each episode is also available at bit.ly/awipodcast.
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