search articles: 

   from the issue of July 17, 2008

Water science focus of Hohai collaboration


With its focus on water science and engineering, Hohai University in Nanjing, China, is a natural partner institution for UNL, say scholars who are laying the foundation for long-term collaboration.

CAMPUS COLLABORATION - John Holz (right), research assistant professor with the School of Natural Resources, listens as Xi Chen (second from...
 CAMPUS COLLABORATION - John Holz (right), research assistant professor with the School of Natural Resources, listens as Xi Chen (second from left), Hohai University faculty, explains the available facilities at Hohai's hydraulic engineering lab. Also pictured in the background (from left) is Deepti Joshi, UNL graduate student in computer sciences; Sarah Michaels, professor of political science; and Alan Tomkins, director of the Public Policy Center.

In the past year, UNL and Hohai researchers in computer science, water, and public policy have visited each others' campuses, with seed funds from the National Science Foundation in the United States, and its Chinese equivalent, the National Natural Science Foundation of China. A UNL delegation went to Nanjing in April for a two-week workshop, after hosting a team from Hohai in October.

According to the project report, by 2025, as much as two-thirds of the world's population may face water shortages, which can lead to economic crises, disease, famine, and death, if people don't take action in time. Policy changes and water management will need to be informed by monitoring and early warning systems that track and model water usage and availability.

"Our long-term goal is to develop a cyber-infrastructure for global water research," said Ashok Samal, a computer scientist at UNL who is one of the principal investigators of the NSF-funded project, "US/China Digital Government Collaboration: Building a Collaboratory in Hydroinformatics and Water Policy."

Samal said Hohai is "a full-service water university." Many of China's leading civil engineers and water scientists, such as the team that designed and built the Three Gorges Dam, are graduates of Hohai.

Because of that unique focus on water, "UNL is a natural counterpart," said Xun-Hong Chen, professor of hydrogeology at UNL's School of Natural Resources. "Water is an area of excellence at UNL."

Chen has worked with Hohai previously and helped the UNL group forge connections. Two of the Hohai team members had been his postdoctoral students.

While in Nanjing, SNR assistant professor John Holz, who specializes in water quality, met with about 40 graduate students from Hohai University and described how to apply to UNL. The Chinese government has committed to funding a certain number of Hohai students to study in the United States each year.

In addition to Samal, Chen and Holz, the UNL delegation included Donald Wilhite, director of the School of Natural Resources; Alan Tomkins, director of UNL's Public Policy Center; Sarah Michaels, professor of political science; Leen-Kiat Soh, associate professor of computer sciences; and Deepti Joshi and Peng Du, UNL graduate students in computer sciences.

The goals of the April workshop were to catalog hydrological data collection methods; to summarize ground and surface water modeling methods; to discuss decision-making policies related to water resources; and to examine what computational techniques are needed for data mining and fusion.

UNL & Hohai: A look ahead

Future partnership activities between UNL and Hohai University are likely to include:

• Short courses taught at Hohai by UNL and Hohai faculty, giving UNL students a chance to work at Hohai University's laboratories.

• Visiting scholars from China at UNL.

• Projects focusing on issues of water quality and water supply.

• Hohai graduate students funded mostly by the Chinese government coming to study water-related topics at UNL.

• New uses of computing technology to enable citizens, scientists and policy makers to incorporate the best available information into decision making.



Southern beetle species moves into Nebraska
Belashchenko honored for magnet study
Rural residents back renewable energy
Crews survey state's tree resources
Engineering begins cooperative learning with Warsaw University of Technology
Gardening on campus
Grant to promote financial literacy among Nebraska students
Proposals sought for Innovation Campus
UNL, Curtis collaborate on dairy project
Water science focus of Hohai collaboration