S-A4 Cities at the Nexus

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban settings which will be hubs for food, energy and water consumption. This session will explore how these core needs can be, and are being, integrated into sustainable planning of cities and surrounding areas. Diverse cities around the world and in the United States will be considered, as well as how their food, energy and water “supply chains” connect them to other areas and profoundly impact those areas.

Moderator: William J. Cooper, Program Director, Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems, National Science Foundation


  • Mazdak Arabi, Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University
  • John Dickert, Mayor, City of Racine
  • Carol Miller, Professor and Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Wayne State University
  • Anu Ramaswami, Charles M. Denny, Jr. Chair of Science, Technology, and Public Policy, Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Professor of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Sciences, University of Minnesota

William J. “Bill” Cooper directs the NSF program funds projects which look at the environmental engineering implications of energy and resource consumption; availability of high quality water supplies; and fate and transport of contaminants of emerging concern in air, water, and soils. Prior to joining NSF in 2013, Bill was a Professor and Director of the Urban Water Research Center at the University of California at Irvine.

John Dickert is currently serving in his third term as Mayor of Racine, Wisconsin. He has also held a variety of positions in the offices of U.S. Representative Peter Barca (D-WI) and U.S. Representative Les Aspin (D-WI). He worked for both Republicans and Democrats in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1987 to 1993, staffing the State budget and the Ways and Means Committee on taxation. He currently serves on the Board of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, a partnership dedicated to protecting and restoring the Great Lakes. He has been appointed as Vice Chair to the United States Conference of Mayors’ Metro Economies Committee and also serves on the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Water Council. He is the past President of the Urban Alliance of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. (262-636-9111; mayor@cityofracine.org)

Dr. Anu Ramaswami is Charles M. Denny Chair Professor of Science Technology & Environmental Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. Her work is interdisciplinary, spanning areas of sustainable infrastructure, urban systems, environmental engineering, industrial ecology, public health & public affairs. She is lead PI on two NSF projects related to sustainability, Partnership in International Research and Education: “Developing Low-Carbon Cities in the USA, China & India through Inter-Disciplinary Integration Across Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences & Public Health” and Sustainability Research Network: “Integrated Urban Infrastructure Solutions for Environmentally Sustainable, Healthy, and Livable Cities.” Both are related to exploring sustainability at the Food-Energy-Water nexus. (303-523-8130, anu@umn.edu)

Carol Miller is an active water resources researcher, having received grants from the National Science Foundation, Great Lakes Protection Fund, and Engineering Foundation, amongst others. Her research includes both surface and subsurface water supplies and has recently focused on topics with a water/energy interface. She is especially interested in urban environmental issues, having helped launch the Urban Watershed Environmental Research Group (UWERG) at Wayne State University. Dr. Miller received all her academic degrees from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan and past chair of the State Licensing Board. (313-706-9060; cmiller@eng.wayne.edu)

Mazdak Arabi is teaching and actively conducting research in the water resources management and planning and environmental engineering areas. His research primarily focuses on the development of scientific approaches and decision support systems for sustainable environmental planning and management. For example, Dr. Arabi is interested in investigating the impact of anthropogenic activities, such as land use change, and agricultural practices on the integrity of environmental systems, especially watersheds. Currently, Dr Arabi is involved with several projects sponsored by USDA, NRCS, and NSF to develop stakeholder driven multi-criteria watershed management support systems with purpose of enhancing decision makers’ capacity to evaluate a range of agricultural and environmental policy alternatives.