How will we provide secure food, water, and energy today and for the future?

Cutting the Root of Anthropogenic Global Climate Change: Toward a Low-Carbon Society

Lead Submitter: Jeffrey Broadbent, Sociology

Facing the Grand Challenge of Global Climate Change requires a decades and centuries-long view. Continuing climate change will intensify heat waves, fires, floods, droughts, famines, migrations and wars, overwhelming adaptation efforts. Massive methane release could make warming unstoppable. The most strategic response is rapid reduction of the cause--human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. To do so, we must find the way to global well-being without carbon growth. This will require not only alternative technology, but social, economic, political and cultural change through global cooperation.

Our Institute on the Environment can focus university strengths in interdisciplinary groups to work on projects including sustainable agriculture, community design, alternative energy, green development, policy mechanisms, governance, risk interpretation, and education. For instance, one project studies media framing (Soc, Comm) of global weather anomalies (IT). The U can contribute greatly to understanding constraints and opportunities and to informing effective solutions.

Engineered Fracturing of Rock

Lead Submitter: Emmanuel Detournay, Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering (CEGE)
Co-Submitters: Bojan Guzina, CEGE; Joseph Labuz, CEGE; Sonia Mogilevskaya, CEGE; Vaughan Voller CEGE; Fadil Santosa, Mathematics; Max Bezada, Earth Sciences; Christian Teyssier, Earth Sciences; Mihailo Jovanovic, Electrical Engineering; Carlos Carranza-Torres, Civil Engineering

The continued health and well-being of our society will be significantly enhanced by our ability to develop the Earth’s subsurface. The extraction of resources, containment of waste, and expansion of infrastructure, however, are critically held back by the lack of reliable, efficient, and safe technologies for the fragmentation of rock.

Building on over 50 years of seminal innovations in rock mechanics at the University of Minnesota, our goal is to transform the practice of subsurface fragmentation to the point where the safe and efficient operation of such processes is on par with engineering operations on the surface. The goal will be realized through four main themes centered on developing the engineering, understanding, and technologies for: (1) mitigation of the hazards associated with subsurface excavation; (2) responsible resource extraction and waste isolation; (3) efficient excavation and drilling operations; (4) sensing and steering subsurface fracture processes in real time.

Systems-based Food Safety and Defense

Lead Submitter: Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, Food Science and Nutrition

A concerted effort in advancing knowledge and education for consumer protection from natural and intentional threats is proposed. Foodborne diseases are a major public health threat and pose a significant burden to the U. S. and world’s economy. The challenges faced by the global food system present multiple opportunities. These prospects relate to globalization of food trade, anticipating to emerging pathogens, accelerating progress in food production and processing, addressing trends in consumer preference and reducing the potential for intentional adulteration driven by economic motivation or terrorism.

Minnesota and the University have been at the forefront of protecting consumers from farm to table. The University has multiple food-related programs and centers that promote food safety and defense. They include academic units within at least three colleges, as well as multidisciplinary centers with significant external funding. This GC will place the University as the academic leader in food protection.

Informatics for Environment and Natural Resources

Lead Submitter: Alan R. Ek, Professor & Head, Forest Resources (FR)
Co-Submitter: Joseph F. Knight, Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Laboratory, Forest Resources

Extensive natural resource inventories, environmental monitoring, large area remote sensing tools plus new analysis capabilities for big data have great potential for increasing our understanding of natural and managed ecosystems—i.e., their dynamics and management approaches that foster productivity, biodiversity and sustainability.

The University and CFANS have a long history of research and development and public and private collaborations with applications in these areas, especially with respect to forests, wildlife habitat, soil productivity and clean water for urban and rural ecosystems. The focus is on environment and natural resources systems and will grow to include aspects of agriculture, water resources, including risk, biodiversity and ecosystem health over large areas. Risks include wildfire, climate change, floods, and crop failures. Eight component endeavors, five departments and numerous agencies are included in the planned initiative. Without this fundamental understanding of natural and managed systems, the four other themes have little chance of success.

Climate Change Adaptation: Building Resilience, Reducing Risks

Lead Submitter: Susan Galatowitsch, Professor & Head, Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology

Worldwide, planning to cope with the consequences of climate change is underway, but typically in a limited, ad-hoc manner—primarily engineering or technological “fixes” to existing disaster or water management programs. As noted by IPCC (2014), the current extent of climate adaptation is critically constrained must broaden to integrate social, institutional and ecosystem-based measures. Further, the complex challenges inherent to climate adaptation require “iterative risk management frameworks” that are currently lacking.

Minnesota is uniquely positioned to accelerate the comprehensive, multidisciplinary research agenda required to create actionable, integrated systems-based solutions. Faculty from several colleges spanning the social and natural sciences have done ground-breaking research on climate change adaptation, highlighting our comparative strength in key disciplines. In embracing this Grand Challenge, Minnesota would be positioned to pursue large multidisciplinary research and training initiatives. This designation would also create momentum for integrated, cross-disciplinary educational opportunities in “key domains,” to build climate adaptation problem-solving/decision-making skills.

MN Global Food Ventures

Lead Submitter: Craig Hedberg, Environmental Health Sciences
Co-Submitters: Trevor Ames, College of Veterinary Medicine; Scott Wells, Veterinary Population Medicine; Linda Valeri, Center for Animal Health and Food Safety; Brian Buhr, College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Sciences; Philip Pardey, Applied Economics; John Finnegan, School of Public Health

Increasing food supplies to meet the needs of global population growth will increase pressure on natural resources that will be compounded by climate change. Resolving global food security challenges is intrinsically a transdisciplinary and multi-faceted undertaking. Over its first two years, the MN Global Food Ventures of MnDRIVE funding has leveraged the extensive food and agriculture expertise of University faculty in partnership with global food and commodity companies, public policy, and regulatory agencies to seek economic and environmentally sustainable solutions to these challenges.

MN Global Food Venture is addressing the challenge of global food security through the development of projects targeted towards: a. Improving crop, livestock, and poultry productivity and health while sustaining the natural resource base for agriculture. b. Improving human nutrition, health, and food safety outcomes from agricultural products. c. Enhancing agricultural workforce capacity through training the next generation of food-system professionals.

Sustainability & Equity in a World with Limited Resources

Lead Submitter: Jessica Hellman, Institute on the Environment

How do we provide secure food, water and energy today and for the future? Equitable environmental sustainability. To meet the needs of tomorrow, we must responsibly steward resources today. We propose to bring science and technology in conversation with the public, stakeholders, policymakers, corporations, and landowners. Building economies that meet human needs in an equitable way is an extraordinary grand challenge, one that will require contributions from all disciplines.

This effort will discover solutions that generate benefits for all people given the constraints and opportunities of socio-economic systems that currently govern natural resource use. It emphasizes that natural capital, in farm fields, in cities, and in wild and semi-managed places, is the foundation on which on our regional and global economies are built. This capital must be protected and revitalized to generate sustainable returns. Numerous sub-challenges will be pursued, including climate regulation

and adaptation through natural and policy means, co-production of food and other environmental services, and delivery of clean water and energy through efficient recycling and renewable technologies.

Sustainability—Systems Approach to Ensuring a Sustainable Global Economy and Society

Lead Submitters: Jason Hill, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering; Tim Smith, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering; Anu Ramaswami, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, Humphrey School of Public Affairs; Shri Ramaswamy, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering

Meeting the needs of the world's growing and increasingly affluent population will make the goal of achieving a more sustainable society all the more challenging in coming decades. Greater global demand for energy, land, water, and other raw materials are forcing us to rethink how we use our resources for the greater good. While these challenges are daunting, they provide us with tremendous opportunities to improve upon the status quo. To ensure positive environmental, economic, and social outcomes, we must prepare and carry out comprehensive, long-term plans. This requires expertise and broad understanding of sustainability and an in-depth familiarity within a given sector.

The University of Minnesota has the most robust array of faculty expertise around sustainable systems of any institution in the state. We need to be at the forefront of scientific and technological advances meeting social needs. This is in line with our land grant mission.

Biodiversity, Symbioses, and Global Sustainability

Lead Submitter: Karen Hokanson, Managing Director, Stakman-Borlaug Center for Sustainable Plant Health, and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Horticultural Science
Co-Submitters: Jim Bradeen, Plant Pathology; Kathryn Bushley, Plant Biology; Gregg Johnson, Agronomy and Plant Genetics; Peter Kennedy, Biology Teaching & Learning/Ecology, Evolution & Behavior; Jim Kurle, Plant Pathology; Peter Morrell, Agronomy and Plant Genetics; Gary Muehlbauer, Plant Biology/Agronomy and Plant Genetics; Ruth Shaw, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior; Nathan Springer, Plant Biology; Brian Steffenson, Plant Pathology; Peter Tiffin, Plant Biology

Understanding the diversity of species and leveraging species interactions (symbioses) are the keys to harnessing the complexity of the biological world for enhanced sustainability in agriculture, industry, environmental practices, and human health. Despite its importance and economic value, researchers still lack a comprehensive understanding of the world’s biodiversity or the positive, negative, and neutral interactions between species. Such symbiotic interactions have profound, even deterministic effects on how ecosystems function, with direct small- and large-scale impacts on the way we live.

This Grand Challenge theme aligns with interests of diverse University of Minnesota researchers including biologists, agriculture and natural resource scientists, social scientists, economists, legal experts and policy analysts. Utilizing the significant intellectual and infrastructure capacity within the University, there are experts analyzing, documenting, preserving, and leveraging biodiversity and symbiosis. This Grand Challenge theme has the potential to position the University of Minnesota as a global leader in this arena.

Meeting Societal Needs for Food and Renewable Energy in a Water-challenged World, by Sustainable Development of the New Agricultural Bioeconomy

Lead Submitters: Nicholas Jordan, Agronomy and Plant Genetics; David Mulla, Soil, Water, and Climate; David Pitt, Landscape Architecture; Carissa Schively Slotterback, Urban and Regional Planning; Bryan Runck, Geography, Environment and Society; Timothy Smith, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering; Donald Wyse, Agronomy and Plant Genetics; Volkan Isler, Computer Science and Engineering

Humans face grave problems related to water supply, due to interactions between climate change and human activities that threaten severe water shortages and catastrophic impacts from flooding and oversupply. Agriculture strongly affects water supply; therefore, humanity must improve agricultural use of water, while also meeting growing needs for food and other products. There is now a major opportunity to do so, because a new agricultural “bioeconomy” is emerging, based on new crops and bioproducts for food, nutrition, health, industrial products and fuels. Felicitously, these new crops (and associated farming methods) can also protect and store water on large scales. Therefore, growth of this bioeconomy could enable an enormous “win-win,” in which continental-scale water problems are addressed in concert with sustainable economic development.

Broad concerted action is needed, and UMN can catalyze that action through systemic and transdisciplinary approaches that integrate crop development, “big data” technologies, democratic governance, and business development.

Harnessing the Power of Microbes for Creating More Efficient and Sustainable Systems

Lead Submitters: Linda L. Kinkel, Professor, Plant Pathology; Michael Sadowsky, Professor, Bioechnology Institute; Michael Murtaugh, Professor, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Our grand challenge is to capitalize on the vast potential of microbial populations and communities to build better agricultural, environmental, industrial, fermentation, bioremediation, and food production systems. Major advances in molecular, genomic, and ecological science over the past decade have positioned scientists to make major strides in the integration of microbial population management, genomic manipulation, and process optimization into agricultural, environmental, food, industrial, and bioremediation sciences.

Nationally, few institutions possess the aggregate depth and breadth of microbiology research that exists among our faculty. Yet the distribution of microbiology-focused faculty among diverse departments and colleges at the University has posed significant challenges to the creation of an integrated and highly visible program targeting microbial applications. We propose a strong and clearly focused microbiology initiative that will integrate microbiology researchers from across the campus to meet the challenge of effective application of microbial sciences to improve humankind.

Food Data Science and Environment Platform

Lead Submitter: Amy Kircher, Food Protection and Defense Institute

We propose to create a Food Data Science and Environment Platform that allows researchers to harness the power of large and complex data through informatics and analytics to advance production and distribution of food as well as tackle food system challenges to include impact on the environment.

This platform would establish the UMN as a leader in data science as it relates to food and create a unique capability to build a cadre of the world’s data scientists, a critical need in industry and governments. The platform will require investment in both faculty and infrastructure (technology and personnel). Students working, within the platform, will benefit from working on real world challenges and have the benefit of interaction with multiple disciplines. The effort will be most successful by leveraging the food industry who are uniquely positioned to engage in this platform through traditional partnerships as well as novel engagements that could include bi-directional sabbaticals, co-PI (private/public) research projects, technology “hacks,” and innovation forums.

Spatiotemporal Data, Analysis, Visualization and Thinking: A Cross-Cutting Grand Challenge

Lead Submitter: Steven Manson, Professor; Geography, Environment, and Society
Co-Submitters: Shashi Shekhar, Computer Science and Engineering; Thomas Fisher, Metropolitan Design Center

Most grand challenges are spatial in nature because they involve human communities and natural ecosystems in particular places. Billions of people contribute to the trillion-dollar spatial technology economy by using tools such as Uber, Google Maps, and GPS. This spatial technology is also remaking scholarship, education, and outreach. Thousands of University students and staff combine spatial approaches with data gleaned from maps, satellites, smart phones, sensor networks, and social media. They tackle hundreds of challenges, including helping commuters minimize travel time; farmers plant and protect crops; epidemiologists identify disease hot-spots; planners develop smarter evacuation routes; and policy makers visualize climate change.

The University is a global leader in spatial scholarship. It is poised to broaden and deepen the use of spatial approaches to see connections within and among grand challenges that include advancing human health and well-being; building resilient and equitable communities; and sustainably provisioning food, energy, and water.

How Do We Power the World with Renewable Energy Systems?

Lead Submitter: Ned Mohan, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Co-Submitters: Sairaj Dhople, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Elizabeth Wilson, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

The energy system underpins modern society and links critical food, transportation, health, and water infrastructures across multiple spatiotemporal scales. Driven by the goals of sustainability and resilience, our energy system is rapidly undergoing fundamental transitions in form and function. How we harness and use energy connects new technologies, societal values, policies, institutions, and laws.

This Grand Challenge requires an integrated research agenda to focus on energy-generation innovations embedded within energy markets, policy contexts, and social acceptability. This challenge spans the management of the variability of renewable resources, explores the role of storage and demand, while ensuring economic and social sustainability. It also allows us to develop new educational paradigms to educate the next generation of leaders for the energy sector. We at the University of Minnesota are uniquely positioned to excel in this domain by engaging faculty across campus in engineering, physical sciences, biosciences, policy, law, and economics.

To Sustainably Provide Global Access to Safe Water

Lead Submitter: Paige J. Novak, Professor; Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering
Co-Submitter: William A. Arnold; Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering

By 2025 two-thirds of the world’s population will live under conditions of water-stress. As global population and standards of living increase, pressure on energy and elemental resources will also increase. To provide safe drinking water, energy, food, and other resources to humankind while avoiding global conflict, innovation in water technology, water management, and water policy is needed.

The University of Minnesota has the opportunity to lead in this area, with internationally recognized expertise in the critical areas necessary to solve this Grand Challenge. Existing educational resources are present in this area and could easily be augmented and enhanced. Finally, the University is situated in a state that houses the global leaders in water technology (Dow, Pentair, GE, Ecolab, 3M). If we mobilize the University’s expertise and partner with the extensive capability that exists in the private and public sectors, we will play a central role in solving this challenge.

Develop and Operationalize an International AgroInformatics Alliance

Lead Submitter: Philip Pardey, Applied Economics
Co-Submitter: Jim Wilgenbusch, Minnesota Supercomputing Institute

The grand challenge proposed here is to deepen and accelerate the development of a CFANS/MSI-catalyzed International AgroInformatics Alliance that will reimagine the role of informatics to improve agricultural, food and nutritional outcomes worldwide. The emphasis will be on integrating information a) across the “omics” (including genomics, phenomics, flavoromics, and economics), b) across public and private institutions (given an increasing share of the relevant food and agricultural information is now proprietary), and c) across geographical boundaries and different scales of analysis, with particular emphasis on the world’s important agricultural producing countries.

The overriding goal is to integrate and deploy the scientific depth and breadth across CFANS, the bioinformatics expertise of the MSI, and strategic international public and private partners to stimulate the development, uptake and stewardship of new technologies and management practices that spur sustainable growth in the supply and accessibility of nutritious food worldwide.

STEM and Economics in One Health: Quality, Quantity, Policy, and Development

Lead Submitter: Andres Perez, Endowed Chair of Global Animal Health and Food Safety
Co-Submitters: Laura Bloomberg, Humphrey School of Public Affairs John Finnegan, School of Public Health; Meredith McQuaid, International Programs; Claudia Neuhauser, University of Minnesota Informatics Institute; Brian Buhr, College of Agricultural, Food and Natural Resource Sciences; Trevor Ames, College of Veterinary Medicine

It is projected that by 2050 the world population will reach the 9 billion mark, with a consequent increase in food demand and peri-urban populations that will impact the health and wealth of individuals and societies. In parallel, the volume and complexity of data available on health-, primary production-, and policy-related issues has grown to levels never seen in history. This rapid increase in the quantity of data availability has not necessarily resulted on a consequent ability to improve the quality of our information to create policy.

We argue that an emerging grand challenge is the ability to apply STEM tools and economics to big data through an interdisciplinary team of agricultural, medical, and social scientists in order to improve the quality of our policy, with the ultimate objective of improving access to food and economic development as a mean to improve health and wealth of local and global communities.

Water Security

Lead Submitter: Jeffrey Peterson, Water Resources Center
Co-Submitter: Faye Sleeper, Water Resources Center

The water security grand challenge is to understand the processes by which water resource conditions are impacted by human and other drivers, as well as to understand how changes in water resource conditions affect human behavior. Water security encompasses the protection of the quality and quantity of water resources through an informed understanding of the interacting factors in human and natural systems.

The University has over 100 faculty members actively teaching and researching water issues in multiple fields of study. Crosscutting units such as the Water Resources Center help bring expertise together and connect university faculty with outside partners. The interdisciplinary Water Resources Sciences graduate program includes faculty and students from the Duluth campus, creating further connections to partners in northern Minnesota. Minnesota’s location is a further advantage, as a living laboratory at the headwaters not just of two major river systems but also the Laurentian Great Lakes.

MN Materials: Solving our Global Water, Food, Energy, Environment, and Healthcare Demands Through Innovative Research, Education, and Economic Development

Lead Submitter: Theresa M. Reineke, Chemistry

The design and development of high-performance materials is revolutionizing technologies to solve our global grand challenges ranging from energy and the environment to water, food, and human healthcare. For example, new membranes hold tremendous promise for alternative water purification technology, novel polymers are selectively delivering therapeutics and personalizing medical devices, and biobased plastics are preserving our food longer yet are compostable and sustainable. Moreover, new light-harvesting materials are transforming solar energy conversion, materials with catalytic function are modernizing the way we refine oil for cleaner production and allowing higher power storage in innovative batteries. Indeed, materials innovation is central to solving the critical challenges that we face as a society.

UMN material science researchers have a decades-long history and world-renowned reputation of transformative research, education, and public engagement—funding multidisciplinary collaborative centers, fostering industrial partnerships, and technology translation that will continue to advance grand challenge solutions locally and globally.

Food and the Environment

Submitter: Terry Roe, Applied Economics

Food security, exhaustible resources (including water), and climate change pose major and interrelated challenges. At least one-third of the world’s population live in countries either in process or on the verge of rapid economic growth, and another one-third are challenged to feed 20 percent of their populations. Many of the rare earth resources are becoming more scarce, the atmosphere is absorbing more contaminants, and declines in food production in many parts of the world are attributed to climate change.

The University of Minnesota has outstanding strengths in the food, agricultural, and biological sciences. Yet, a forum by which these units might focus on this type of multidisciplinary problem and the bringing of it to the classroom in a coordinated way is lacking.

21st-Century Biotechnologies for Minnesota—Drivers of innovation, Competitiveness, and Sustainability

Lead Submitter: Claudia Schmidt-Dannert Distinguished McKnight Professor, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics

The NRC of the National Academies and Institute of Medicine just released a roadmap to accelerate advanced bio-manufacturing of chemicals, which will drive federal funding of science and engineering in the near and long-term future. Taking advantage of the tremendous advances in biology and synthetic biology, this challenge proposes to position the U as major driver of 21st-century biotechnologies. Interconnected research areas along with interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial training will serve as pathways from discovery to commercialization, and training of our STEM workforce.

The University’s breadth of research power spanning disciplines ranging from medicine, life sciences, and engineering to management and agriculture allows the U to distinguish itself from other institutions with strength in synthetic biology (e.g., MIT, UC Berkeley). If combined, these assets have the potential of making the University and state of Minnesota leaders in next generation biotechnologies, paralleling the state’s leadership in medical technologies and device manufacturing.

Create Sustainable Solutions to Achieve Healthy Food

Lead Submitter: Tonya C. Schoenfuss, Associate Professor, Food Science and Nutrition
Co-Submitter: Devin G. Peterson, Food Science and Nutrition

A key challenge of the food system today is that advancements in agroscience have focused on yield and disease resistance, not on developing nutritious materials for the production of foodstuffs that people want to eat and are produced by sustainable agro practices. A contextual framework for this challenge is lacking despite intense interest from the global community. Enhancing our current efforts through targeted investments in food chemistry, processing and safety research will strengthen the University of Minnesota’s leadership role at a time when food is being globalized at an astonishing pace. Food security is critical to national security and global sustainability.

The University of Minnesota is uniquely positioned as a nexus of food innovation with well-established ties to Fortune 500 food companies. Making food a focus area of the Grand Challenges through a concerted effort in food science will enhance our capacity to create sustainable solutions to achieve healthy food.

Optimizing Food Animal Production Systems for a Better World

Lead Submitter: Gerald Shurson, Professor, Animal Science
Co-Submitters: Chi Chen, Metabolomics, Food Science and Nutrition; Chris Faulk, Functional Genomics, Animal Science; Lee Johnston, Animal Nutrition and Management, WCROC; Yuzhi Li, Animal Behavior and Alternative Production Systems, WCROC; Kota Minegishi, Animal Systems Optimization, Animal Science; Milena Saqui-Salces, Gastrointestinal Physiology, Animal Science; Jennifer Schmitt, NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise, UMN IonE; Pedro Urriola, Animal Nutrition, Animal Science

As a vital component of our growing global society, and representing 40% of global agricultural output, food animal production is constantly challenged by evolving needs in food security, food safety, as well as economic, social, and environmental sustainability. Using an integrated systems approach, we identified five major challenges to work on: 1) increasing caloric and nutritional efficiency of food animal production, 2) reducing environmental burden, 3) improving animal health and well-being, 4) improving human health, and 5) facilitating communication among industry, academia, and communities.

Our team is diverse, multidisciplinary, and innovative with extensive collaborations in CFANS, CVM, IonE, and ROC’s within the UMN, and has an extensive network of strong relationships and collaborations with food and agriculture academic and industry partners in Minnesota, nationally, and internationally. We are well positioned to be a national and international leader in addressing these challenges through research, extension/outreach, and industrial partnerships.

Sustainable Water Use/TC Development Patterns

Lead Submitter: Richard Strong, Center for Sustainable Building Research

The Grand Challenge: To ensure that the current development patterns in the Twin Cities area do not preclude sustainable water use today and into the future. Water is a limited resource for all life and economic growth. Its future availability is critical for both the citizens and business viability in the Twin Cities. The implications of this challenge are reflected in urban developments throughout the world.

Since the University is located in a state with one of the most abundant water resources and a state motto of “Land of Sky Blue Waters,” addressing this challenge is imperative here, and in other urban areas. Change can only happen with a normative, cognitive, and regulative transformation with regard to our relationship to water in the urban areas. A new intrinsic value of water, acceptability of new approaches to water management and bold and futuristic policies will have to coalesce to create the new water development framework for the Twin Cities. This challenge will engage faculty from Water Resources, Engineering, Policy, Design and Ecology.

Linking Rural and Urban Futures

Lead Submitter: Dewey Thorbeck, Director, Center for Rural Design

In a time of rapid change this challenge is for the University of Minnesota to become a global leader in linking rural and urban futures. Urbanization worldwide has been accelerating as people move from rural areas to urban areas for economic advancement creating urban development that sprawls into the countryside, eliminating much of the best farmland surrounding cities. By 2050 there may be another 2.5 billion people on the planet. Where will these people live and work and how will the land be shaped to accommodate needs today without compromising future generations’ ability to respond to theirs?

Design and design-thinking is a strong University resource to bring multidisciplinary science, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship together to find ways that limited rural and urban land and water resources can be better shaped and utilized to resolve critical issues of climate change, food security, renewable energy, and human, animal, and environmental wellness.

Challenges in Our Pathway to Develop Strategies to Feed the Planet: Sustainability and Animal and Human Health in Highly Intensive Food Production Systems

Lead Submitter: Montse Torremorell, Veterinary Population Medicine
Co-Submitters: Andres Perez, Veterinary Population Medicine; Craig Hedberg, Bruce Alexander, School of Public Health; Larry Jacobson, Kevin Janni, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering

Feeding the planet responsibly is one of the most important challenges facing humankind today. Animal production is expected to grow to fulfill the global demand. However, to do so there needs to be a balancing act in resource allocation of competing interests including but not limited to intensification of production, environmental impact, economic sustainability, human and animal health, and welfare of the animals. Thus, as demand for animal protein sources increases, there is an increased recognition of the connectivity of production systems, trade at a global scale, higher impact of the spread of diseases and the reliance on intensification.

The University of Minnesota has experts in animal health, public health, economics, policy and agriculture who understand the complexities of these systems at the national and global levels. Our experts engage with national and international public agencies and organizations such as USDA, NIH, CDC, MDA, MBAH, NSF, WHO, OIE, commodity groups, and private companies.

A Private-Public Partnership to Support Swine Health and Production

Lead Submitter: Montse Torremorell, Veterinary Population Medicine
Co-Submitters: Andres Perez, Bob Morrison, Maria Pieters, Peter Davies, Doug Marthaler, Fabio Vannucci, Albert Rovira, Marie Culhane, Veterinary Population Medicine; Larry Jacobson, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering; Peter Raynor, Environmental Health Sciences; Bernard Olson, Mechanical Engineering

Food animal production is a major component of the economy of Minnesota, generating $6.2 billion annually. Food animal production is a complex system that requires a fully integrated, multidisciplinary approach to solve existing and emerging problems. The challenges facing food animal production are not diminishing, but rather they are intensifying with increasing consumer demands regarding how food is produced, global population expansion, and economic and environmental sustainability.

Because these problems are complex, the only way forward is by having a strong integrated multidisciplinary educational and research program with public-private partnerships where synergies are leveraged and promoted. University of Minnesota researchers have been a major partner and an integral component of our state’s food animal industry and researchers in this proposal have a long-standing tradition of collaboration with industry partners in solving problems of considerable impact. Industry partners include but are not limited to swine production companies, pharmaceutical companies, biosecurity companies and genetic companies.