On World Water Day, 2011


“Water is life’s mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Hungarian biochemist, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine

Today marks the 19th annual World Water Day. In 1993, the United Nations gave this designation to March 22 to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and of advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

At Michigan State University, we recognize the global importance of safe and secure water and will be celebrating World Water Day throughout the week with public discussions, seminars, and films to raise awareness of water issues and what we can do in response. Topics range from hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico to contaminants in Great Lakes fish to the challenges inherent in providing water to cities. For a schedule of events, please see http://cws.msu.edu/water_info/seminars.html#WorldWaterDay2011.

But MSU’s emphasis on water goes far beyond a week’s worth of special events. Because water is connected with so many disciplines, MSU’s Institute for Water Research has an interdisciplinary cadre of researchers who collaborate to bring expertise in engineering, chemistry, microbiology, fisheries, crop and soil sciences, molecular genetics, geology, medicine, zoology, and sociology to bear on three broad water research areas: detecting contaminants, remediation, and prevention and management.

Among the results of this collaborative research are biosensors and DNA chips that can detect and identify toxins and microorganisms in water at the source, and the identification of plants and other microorganisms that can remove harmful pollutants from waters. Across disciplines, MSU researchers are seeking the best solutions to water challenges and developing new technologies to ensure a safe, secure, and plentiful supply of water for all users.

While recent international events have brought the destructive power of water to the fore of our thinking, these same events highlight the importance of safe and secure water around the world—and how much humanity depends on it to maintain healthy societies.

At Michigan State, our researchers are at the forefront of asking and answering vital questions about the future of water—and their work has helped people as close to home as the communities surrounding the Great Lakes and as far afield as Thailand after the 2006 tsunami. Water is central to sustaining life and prosperity on the earth, and addressing worldwide water concerns is part of MSU’s enduring commitment to advancing the greater common good.

This week offers numerous opportunities for MSU students and the surrounding community to learn about MSU’s commitment to this most precious resource and how we as Spartans and global citizens can participate in ensuring its health and ours. I hope you will join us.


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