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Northwestern Center for Water Research

Mission and Vision

Our Mission

The Northwestern Center for Water Research strives to increase opportunities for NU faculty and students in all domains touching on water, to catalyze and coordinate water research across NU, and to increase the visibility and impact of NU water research by solving current and emerging grand challenges in water systems sustainability, efficiency, and robustness.

Our Vision

Northwestern will be a world leader in designing, simulating, and integrating innovative materials and engineered bioprocesses into water systems to achieve global solutions for regional and local water challenges.

About the Center

The Northwestern Center for Water Research formed in September 2015 to link the University’s water research efforts in basic sciences, technology development, law and policy, and systems analysis and simulation. The Water Center will enable the Northwestern community to achieve:

  • Fundamental advances in water science, enabling new water technologies and improved prediction of water systems.
  • High-performance discovery, design, and commercialization of materials for water monitoring and processing technologies.
  • Efficient, robust and durable solutions for water reuse, low-purity water sources, and resource recovery from wastewaters.
  • Integration of theory, data, and models to predict large-scale, long-term outcomes in complex water/energy/food/ecosystems, and enable safe, efficient, and sustainable management of water.

The Water Center will develop global solutions for regional problems  by engaging diverse industrial, governmental, and community partners to apply the highest levels of science and engineering to solve water challenges in the Chicago region and throughout the Great Lakes and Mississippi Valley.


Trillions of Plastic Bits Swept Up By Current, Are Littering Arctic Waters

New York Times

California’s Drought is Over. Now What?


Do Seas Make Us Sick? Surfers May Have the Answer

New York Times

Michigan is Forced to Do Right by Flint, Finally

New York Times

 Arctic’s Winter Sea Ice Drops to its Lowest Recorded Level

New York Times

 Burrowing Under Luminous Ice to Retrieve Mussels

New York Times

Canadians Fear Trump’s Budget Will Devastate Great Lakes

New York Times

How to Steal a River

New York Times

Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Young Professionals Grants Available – Deadline March 24, 2017

The Alliance for the Great Lakes

In California, A Move to Ease the Pressures on Aging Dams

 New York Times

California Parched for Five Years, Is Now Battered by Water

 New York Times

Orville is a Warning for California Dams, as Climate Change Adds Stress

 New York Times

In Shadow of California Dam, Water Turns from Wish to Woe

 New York Times

A Crack in an Antarctica Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in Two Months

 New York Times

In America’s Heartland, Discussing Climate Change Without Saying “Climate Change”

 New York Times

Scientists Glimpse New York’s Perilous Path in an Ancient Patch of Marsh

 New York Times

A New Casualty of Syria’s War: Drinking Water in Damascus

 New York Times

 Spiking Temperatures in the Arctic Startle Scientists

 New York Times

 Corpus Christi: “What do we want? Clean water! When do we want it? Now!”

 BBC News

Polar Bears’ Path to Decline Runs Through Alaskan Village

 New York Times

Shrinking Glaciers Cause State-of-Emergency Drought in Bolivia

The Guardian

Northwestern Alumnae Continuing Education Course: Global Issues and Perspectives Lecture by Aaron Packman: Global Water Security and Sustainability Challenges for Arid Lands

Mapping Three Decades of Global Water Change

 New York Times

A Plan to Clean Up DePue: Academia Meets Advocacy

McCormick Engineering News

Preparing for the Global “Infrastructure Tsunami”

World Wildlife Fund Presentation – November 17, 2016

The Living City

McCormick Engineering News

World Wildlife Fund Calls for Better Infrastructure Planning

McCormick Engineering News

Perspectives at the Water-Energy-Climate Nexus: Anticipating Changes to Come

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

AMO Director Mark Johnson Tackles Regional Innovation Opportunities

U.S. Department of Energy

Israel Proves the Desalination Era is Here

Scientific American

Indian Boundary Prairies: Test Bed Development Presentation

William Miller Presentation – November 7, 2016

Argonne, MWRD Complete First Phase of Chicago River Study

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

2016 Northwestern Climate Change Symposium: Perspectives at the Water-Energy-Climate Symposium

Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern


May 18 Water in Israel and the Middle East Presentations Now Available

Link to the Symposiums



Clean Water in Kenya: NU Engineers Without Borders Develops Water Distribution System in Maasai Community Near Nairobi

Northwestern Magazine

NOAA Launches America’s First National Water Forecast Model

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Israel, The Water Superpower

Triple Pundit

Nature: A Better, Faster, Cost Effective Answer for Climate Resilience

Nature Conservancy

Watershed Degradation Costs Global Cities $5.4 Billion in Water Treatment Annually

Nature Conservancy


Symposium Looks to Israel as Role Model for Water Sustainability

Northwestern University

Water Sustainability Symposium to Examine Solutions for Middle East

Northwestern University



Summer 2017 Research Opportunities and Projects

McCormick Summer Research Awards

Deadline: April 4, 2017


Weinberg College

Rolling deadlines starting April 15, 2017 and ending May 15, 2017


Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern

Deadline: May 15

Summer 2017 Research Projects

The Northwestern Center for Water Research will be offering undergraduate research opportunities in the Chicago area as well as in Israel this summer. For participants pursuing research projects in Israel (travel in early September), there will be organized field trips and travel costs will be covered*.

Research projects in the Chicago area:


Image processing pipeline for extracting information on plant growth and diversity (Pete Beckman, Argonne National Lab; Cristina Negri, Argonne National Lab; Greg Mueller, Chicago Botanic Garden)


Water, soil, and plant monitoring on green roof, Chicago Botanic Garden (Cristina Negri, Argonne National Lab; Richard Hawke, Chicago Botanic Garden; Aaron Packman, Northwestern)


Visualization and communication of roof and building data on temperature, water, and energy (Cristina Negri, Argonne National Lab; Greg Mueller, Chicago Botanic Garden)


Sampling and analysis of water and soil from urban nature preserves and food production facilities (Aaron Packman and Bill Miller, NU, Karl Gnaedinger, The Nature Conservancy, and Angie Mason, Chicago Botanic Garden).


Research projects in Israel*:


Transboundary watershed management and restoration (Shai Arnon, Ben-Gurion University, Aaron Packman, Northwestern)


Increasing the efficiency of urban wastewater recovery via groundwater recharge (Noam Weisbrod, Ben-Gurion University)


River flow and sediment dynamics (Aaron Packman, Northwestern, Shai Arnon, Ben-Gurion University)


Advanced water and wastewater technologies (Dror Avisar, Tel Aviv University, George Wells, Northwestern)


Radionuclide transport in carbonate rocks (Noam Weisbrod, Ben-Gurion University)


*For summer research projects in Israel, the Center for Water Research and the Israel Studies Program at Northwestern will cover the cost of student travel to Israel so that all student research funds can support activity in Israel.








April 28, 2017

Environmental Engineering Seminar
Hydrodynamics of Tropical Environments: From High Mountain Rivers to Swamps in Columbia
Jorge Alberto Escobar Vargas, PhD
Director, Maestria en Hidrosistemas
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
Bogota, Columbia
2:00 pm

May 10-11, 2017
Untrouble the Waters: Freshwater Lab Summit 2017
“It’s Not the Rust Belt, It’s the Water Belt”
University of Illinois at Chicago
Student Center East
750 South Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60607
9:00 am to 5:00 pm


May 11, 2017

Richard Ambrose, PhD
Institute for Environment and Sustainability
Department of Environmental Health Sciences
University of California, Los Angeles

May 24, 2017

Second Annual Symposium on Water in Israel and the Middle East: Regional Water Sustainability and Resilience
9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Hardin Hall, Rebecca Crown Center, 633 Clark Street, Evanston Campus


Click here for our full calendar

Program Leadership

Susan Black


Academic Partners

The Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern

ISEN advances global energy and sustainability solutions through transformational research, interdisciplinary education, and public engagement.

Center for Optimization and Statistical Learning

OSL provides innovative research to better utilize the growing amounts of data available in our increasingly networked world.

Northwestern Argonne Institute in Science and Engineering

NAISE fosters collaborative research in energy, national security, and biological and environmental systems. NAISE supports computational facilities at both institutions.

Environmental Advocacy Center, Pritzker School of Law

The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Environmental Advocacy Center pursues issues in clean air and water, clean up of hazardous waste sites, safe drinking water, green technology, climate change, and renewable energy.

Conservation Partnerships

Partnerships with conservation organizations including the Chicago Botanic Garden and The Nature Conservancy engage students and the public in sustainable water solutions.