UNCW Recipient, Co-Recipient of NSF Grants Addressing Food Insecurity

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

UNCW researchers will share in funding from the National Science Foundation that supports multi-institutional projects focused on expanding access to healthy, nutritious food.

In December 2022, a total of $11 million in NSF Convergence Accelerator grants were dispensed to 16 multidisciplinary teams to address challenges related to food and nutrition security. UNCW is the recipient or co-recipient of two of the 16 awards. Teams are tasked with developing technologies, tools and approaches to combat challenges related to population health, climate change and nutritional needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

The project, “Accelerating Commercial Marine Fish Production in US: Developing Sustainable Feeds, Establishing Feed Suppliers and Enhancing Market Acceptance,” was awarded $244,974. Dr. Md Shah Alam (research associate professor, UNCW Center for Marine Science) is the principal investigator; Dr. Wade Watanabe (former research professor and director of UNCW's Finfish Aquaculture Program and Facility); and Patrick Carroll (research specialist, aquaculture facility supervisor) are co-principal investigators.

Building on more than a decade of aquaculture research at UNCW, the project focuses on the United States’ role in ensuring global food security through further developing sustainable finfish mariculture, mitigating the depletion of wild fish populations, creating jobs in rural and economically depressed coastal communities and reducing the seafood trade deficit.

A total of $624,029 was awarded to partners at University of Maryland Baltimore County for “Convergence Towards a Disaster Resilient Food System.” Dr. Chris Prentice (director of the UNCW Center for Social Impact and professor of nonprofit management) and Dr. Julia (Jill) Waity (professor of sociology) are co-principal investigators and will work with principal investigator Dr. Lauren Clay to develop the Food Index for Resilience, Security and Tangible Solutions. FIRST will provide a tool for communities preparing, responding, and recovering from disasters and environmental change.

Dr. Stuart Borrett, UNCW associate provost for research and innovation and professor in the Department of Biology and Marine Biology, said having UNCW a part of not one, but two awards demonstrates “remarkable success and highlights an emerging research cluster at UNCW focused on addressing food and nutrition security challenges. I expect that the research discoveries fueled by this NSF funding will help address both national needs and one of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals – zero hunger.”

-- Caroline Cropp