WC-9 Integrating Food, Energy and Water Systems to Eliminate Waste

Food, energy, and water (FEW) systems use technologies developed to address the needs of a given sector (e.g. energy or agriculture), and wastes from each sector are usually managed separately. Production systems underlying FEW have traditionally treated pollution and waste as externalities that are diluted into the ambient environment, and the infrastructure for FEW has consequently developed with unnecessary inefficiencies that are increasingly problematic. This session will explore how FEW systems can be optimized to (1) repurpose or cycle waste products, (2) internalize traditional externalities, and (3) integrate wastes with resource inputs across systems; for example by deploying integrative management strategies and providing clean energy production to displace water intense fossil fuel based energy production that generates large carbon emissions.


  • Sarah Davis, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies Program, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Ohio University
  • Serpil Guran, Director, Rutgers EcoComplex and Associate Professor of Plant Biology and Pathology, Rutgers University


  • Sarah Davis, Environmental Studies Program, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Ohio University


  • David Babson, Senior Engineer, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Geoffrey Dabelko, Professor and Director of Environmental Studies, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Ohio University
  • Serpil Guran, Director, Rutgers EcoComplex and Associate Professor of Plant Biology and Pathology, Rutgers University
  • Yelda Hangun‐Balkir, Director, Center for Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability, Manhattan College
  • Natalie Kruse, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, Voinovich School of Public Affairs and Leadership, Ohio University
  • Scott Miller, Director, Center for Energy, Economics & the Environment, Ohio University
  • Michael Zimmer, Appalachian New Economy Partnership Fellow, Voinovich School of Public Affairs and Leadership, Ohio University and President and CEO, International Economic Development Council (IEDC)

Dr. Sarah Davis studies integrative land management that simultaneously promotes carbon sequestration, water quality, biodiversity, bioenergy production, and agricultural improvement. Major areas of research currently include drought tolerant CAM plants for agriculture; carbon sequestration in advanced cellulosic cropping systems; and biogas generation from anaerobic digestion of food waste and agricultural residues. She maintains an interdisciplinary research program investigating basic science and applied questions related to ecosystem dynamics, advanced bioenergy systems, forest ecology, and environmentally sustainable land management. (740-597-1459; daviss6@ohio.edu)

David Babson’s work focuses on understanding and improving fuel production processes, including biofuel sustainability, and analyzing associated fuel policy. Dr. Babson has extensive research and policy experience. He served as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Transportation and Climate Division, where he reviewed fuel pathways and policy related to initiatives such as the Renewable Fuel Standard. Before that he studied sustainable biofuel systems at both the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the University of Minnesota’s Biotechnology Institute. (202-331-5457; DBabson@ucsusa.org)

Geoffrey D. Dabelko is Professor and Director of Environmental Studies at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He teaches and conducts research on natural resources, conflict, & peacebuilding; global environmental politics; and climate change and security. He is currently focusing on the conflict and peacebuilding potential of climate change responses. From 1997 to 2012, he served as director of the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. Dabelko is co-editor of Green Planet Blues: Critical Perspectives on Global Environmental Politics (5th ed., 2014) and was a lead author for the fifth assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II Chapter 12 on Human Security. (740-593-2117; dabelkog@ohio.edu)\

Serpil Guran’s responsibilities include management of the EcoComplex operations, programs, business incubator and facilities, as well as providing vision and leadership in establishing the EcoComplex as a clean energy innovation center for the commercialization of clean energy and environmental technologies. Dr. Guran specializes in research, development and assessment of sustainable clean energy; biofuels recycling technologies; and life cycle analysis of clean energy production systems, such as food waste to low carbon energy and assessment of biomass energy potentials to quantify carbon and water savings. She teaches Sustainability and Bioenergy Technologies classes at Rutgers University. (609-499-3600 ext. 4225; guran@aesop.rutgers.edu)

Dr. Yelda Hangun-Balkir is an assistant professor of chemistry & environmental science as well as the Director for the Center for Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability at Manhattan College. She received her PhD in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University. Her graduate work was funded by the DOE and she is a co-recipient of the U.S. Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. Balkir’s presentation will focus on the production of biofuels by waste seashells as catalysts and unedible oils from waste such as used coffee, since the seafood industry generates a large amount of shell waste that is simply sent to landfills, leading to the need to burn the shells, an environmentally costly activity. (718-862-7818; yelda.hangunbalkir@manhattan.edu)

Dr. Natalie Kruse is an associate professor of Environmental Studies at Ohio University. She earned her doctorate in Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Newcastle University and completed post-doctoral research on energy systems with the Sir Joseph Swan Institute for Energy Research. Her expertise is in characterizing, modeling, and remediating water pollution from coal, oil, and gas extraction. Dr. Kruse has been instrumental in identifying physical and chemical factors that control the recovery of biological communities in acid-stressed environments and has conducted studies into failing acid mine drainage treatment systems. She has made advancements in the treatment of hydraulic fracturing wastewater for reuse and discharge and has spearheaded community efforts to collect baseline groundwater quality data as oil and gas drilling advance. (krusen@ohio.edu)

Scott Miller’s team elevates and enhances Ohio University research by improving the natural environment of the region; accelerating the transition to a more sustainable and resilient local economy; and serving as liaisons to connect state and federal agencies and local stakeholders to the university’s resources. The Consortium on Energy, Economics, and the Environment (CE3) is an integrated energy research and ecological assessment team housed within the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. CE3 is a strategic partnership between the Voinovich School, the Russ College of Engineering, and the College of Arts and Sciences. The 45 consulting practitioners in CE3 offer applied research, technical assistance, and teaching in water quality assessment; the future of our energy systems; landscape ecology; zero waste management; and geospatial and web-enabled data management. (740-593-0827; millers1@ohio.edu)

Michael Zimmer practiced law for over 30 years in regional, national, Wall Street, and international law firms before retiring in 2013. He concentrated on clean tech, energy and environment, renewables, water, and project finance. At Ohio University his research focuses on water, energy, climate change, advanced manufacturing, and public-private partnerships. He has worked on projects in over 30 states and 20 foreign countries, representing a combined investment exceeding $15 billion. He was outside editor to a recent American Bar Association (ABA) book on climate change law, and is currently serving as an editor in 2016 for a new ABA book on environmental ethics. He has completed two recent NIB white papers as a co-author on energy efficiency financing and new ways to access the capital markets for renewables and efficiency in 2015-16. (571-331-4206; zimmerm@ohio.edu)


  • Derek Kaunecki, Associate Professor, Ohio University
  • Sarah Davis, Assistant Professor, Ohio University
  • Serpil Guran, Director, Rutgers University

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