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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 was launched on March 28, 2016 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.

Chicago Delegation to Israel

Northwestern Researchers Take Global Lead On Water Insecurity

Read the Northwestern article here.

University scholars sign memorandum with Ben-Gurion University during Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s delegation to Israel

Follow these conversations on Twitter: 


New Grants, Global Partnership Extend Water Center’s Reach

Read the northwestern article here.

Annual Symposium: Water in Israel and the Middle East

Water in Israel and the Middle East: Regional Water Sustainability and Resilience

2nd Annual Symposium Proceedings

Click here for pdf.  

Click here for Water Symposium website.




Sustainable Solutions

Northwestern Magazine

Island Nations With No Time to Lose, Take Climate Change into Their Own Hands

New York Times

Food Safety After Flooding

NPR Weekend Edition – October 29, 2017

The Uninhabitable Village

New York Times

A Fresh Look at Fresh Water: Researchers Create a 50,000 Lake Database

National Science Foundation News

Would You Like My Car to Make You Some Water?

New York Times

Finding Water in Puerto Rico: An Endless Game of Cat and Mouse

New York Times

10 Hurricanes in 10 Weeks: With Ophelia a 124-Year-Old Record is Matched

New York Times

As Seas Warm, Whales Face New Dangers

New York Times

Miles of Algae Covering Lake Erie

New York Times

Corporations Have Rights – Why Not Rivers?

New York Times

China and India Water Dispute After Border Standoff

BBC News

EPA Launches 6th Annual Campus Rainworks Challenge

EPA Launches 6th Annual Campus Rainworks Challenge

As Half the World Suffers from Water Shortages, Global Researchers Gather to Meet the Threat

Medill News Service – Northwestern University

Assessing Water Shortages – Health, Crops and Global Economies at Stake

Medill News Service – Northwestern University

Harvey: Fears Grow Over Severe Flooding Risk

BBC News

Hurricane Harvey: Texas Battered by High Winds and Rain

BBC News

Hurricane Harvey Makes Landfall Near Corpus Christi, Texas

New York Times

Deadly South Asia Floods Affect 16 Million People

BBC News

Climate Lessons from California

New York Times

Students Present Their Summer’s Work at Argonne

Argonne National Laboratory News

Prairie Plays Key Role in Chicago’s Flood Management

Medill News Service – Northwestern University

International Research Collaboration Seeks Clean Water Solutions

Medill News Service – Northwestern University

Scientists Meet in Taipei as Global Warming Drives Increased Water Shortages

Medill News Service – Northwestern University

Reframing Water Security for a Human Well Being Approach

Water Canada

Loss of Fertile Land Fuels “Looming Crisis” Across Africa

New York Times

Officials Point Fingers as Lake Ontario Spills into Neighborhoods

New York Times

A Climate Fight on Chicago’s South Side

WBEZ Heat of the Moment – The Gross Gatherings

Sacred Lakes Threatened by China’s Growing Capital

New York Times

The Immense, Eternal Footprint Humanity Leaves on Earth: Plastics

New York Times

Latest MWRD Engineering Marvel Set to Open to Public


New Program! The MWRD Is Now Selling Compost and Accepting Bulk Yard Waste to Promote Resource Recovery



Protecting the H.O.M.E.S

Evanston Roundtable

Israel, Palestinians Reach Landmark Water Deal for West Bank, Gaza

The Times of Israel

Where Else Does the U.S. Have an Infrastructure Problem? Antarctica

New York Times

Chasing Genius Challenge

National  Geographic invites participation by Northwestern faculty and students to create a 60 second video by July 31, 2017. See more details in the Chasing Genius Challenge notice above.

The Dutch Have Solutions to Rising Seas. The World is Watching

New York Times

Understanding Climate Change

Northwestern Now

New Pilot Program Will Work to Prevent Basement Back Ups on South Side


How Do You Make a Play About Water? Drop by Drop

New York Times

Water in Israel and the Middle East Symposium News Brief

Northwestern Center for Water Research

Global diarrhoea deaths down by a third


Miles of Ice Collapsing Into the Sea

New York Times

CUASHI August and November Workshops Registration Information


A Vertical Farm Grows in Newark

New York Times

To Stimulate Climate Change Scientists Build Miniature Worlds

New York Times

Water Reclamation Tours Offer Insight into Water Transformation


How Water Gets from the Nile to Thirsty Refugees

NPR: Goats and Soda

Excitement Builds as MWRD Begins Accepting High Strength Organic Materials


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.








November 9-10, 2017
Northwestern Climate Change Symposium
Hilton Orrington, 1710 Orrington Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201

Featuring plenaries and concurrent science, policy, and business session tracks for diverse perspectives and insight across topics pertaining to climate change and clean energy.


November 16, 2017
5:15 – 6:30 pm
Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Public Lecture
Ma Jun

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is hosting a public lecture on Thursday, November 16th at 5:30pm on the topic of environmental affairs and the solutions to rapid industrialization and urbanization’s effects on the environment, delivered by Ma Jun. Ma Jun is China’s foremost environmentalist and founder of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs who will be visiting Chicago as a Dr. Scholl Foundation Visiting Fellow at the Chicago Council.

The Chicago Council is reserving a section for student attendees at the lecture. So we are happy to extend an invitation to as many students who are interested in attending the lecture.

Please complete the registration for the event by Friday, November 3.  Students should register with the complimentary registration code SchollStudentComp

  • Chicago Council on Global Affairs
    Conference Center
    130 East Randolph Street
    Chicago, Illinois 60601

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.


Northwestern Center for Water Research

2205 Tech Drive, Hogan Hall, Room 1160, First Floor, Evanston, IL 60208 | | 847-467-9287