Water Seed Grants award $2.39 million in research funding

The San Marcos River in May 2023. (Photo by Sam Craft, Texas A&M AgriLife.)

Ten water research projects from throughout three Texas A&M University System agencies have received a total of $2.39 million in Water Seed Grants, funded by state appropriations from the Texas Legislature to Texas A&M AgriLife Research, and administered by the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI).

Each funded project team is required to be multidisciplinary and include at least one representative from each of these Texas A&M System agencies: Texas A&M AgriLife Research, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES).

“The purpose of this initiative is to invest in multidisciplinary teams to be leaders in emerging fields and successfully secure resources that advance water management in Texas,” said Allen Berthold, Ph.D., TWRI interim director.

Ten projects were selected, and each submission went through a panel review process including representatives from all three agencies. The 2024-25 Water Seed Grant projects are:

  • Climate-Smart Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) Rice Production. Principal investigator (PI): Fugen Dou, Ph.D., AgriLife Research. Co-principal investigators (Co-PIs): Xingmao Ma, Ph.D., TEES; Jake Mowrer, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension; Terry Gentry, Ph.D., AgriLife Research.
  • A Risk-based Approach to Mobilize South Texas Communities for Groundwater Management and Water Quality. PI: Susie Dai, Ph.D., AgriLife Research. Co-PIs: Garrett McKay, Ph.D., TEES; Joel Pigg, AgriLife Extension; Omar Montemayor, AgriLife Extension.
  • Satellite Remote Sensing for Agricultural Water System Management in Texas. PI: Zong Liu, Ph.D., AgriLife Research. Co-PIs: Huilin Gao, Ph.D., TEES; Jennifer Spencer, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension.
  • Scalable anti-fouling MXene quantum dots membrane-based energy-efficient water desalination. PI: Shiren Wang, Ph.D., TEES. Co-PIs: Jingjing Qiu, Ph.D., TEES; Murthy Girisha Ganjegunte Keshava, Ph.D., AgriLife Research; Anish Jantrania, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension.
  • Enhancing corn water use efficiency through integration of sensor, crop model, and machine learning-based approaches. PI: Srinivasulu Ale, Ph.D., AgriLife Research. Co-PIs: Qingwu Xue, Ph.D., AgriLife Research; Thomas Marek, Ph.D., AgriLife Research; Chukwuzubelu Ufodike, Ph.D., TEES; Jourdan Bell, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension.
  • Projection of Hydrologic Intensity Duration Frequency Parameters and Their Uncertainties Based on Climate Projections for 21st Century in the State of Texas. PI: Bardia Heidari Haratmeh, Ph.D., AgriLife Research. Co-PIs: Fouad H. Jaber, Ph.D., AgriLife Research; Nicholas G. Duffield, Ph.D., TEES.
  • Next generation sustainable water treatment system using engineered nano materials. PI: Velumani Subramaniam, Ph.D., TEES. Co-PIs: Guillermo Aguilar, Ph.D., TEES; Anish Jantrania, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension; June Wolfe, Ph.D., AgriLife Research.
  • On-Site Wastewater Monitoring Using Miniaturized Optical-Sensing Chips. PI: Pao Tai Lin, Ph.D., TEES. Co-PIs: Anish Jantrania, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension; June Wolfe, Ph.D., AgriLife Research.
  • Advanced Irrigation Management System Guided by Remote Sensing and Artificial Intelligence. PI: Craig Bednarz, Ph.D., AgriLife Research. Co-PIs: Nick Duffield, Ph.D., TEES; Mahendra Bhandari, Ph.D., AgriLife Research; David Parker, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension.
  • Optimizing Agricultural Water Management: A Climate-Smart Approach to Reduce Carbon Intensity and Harness Carbon Market Opportunities. PI: Nithya Rajan, Ph.D., AgriLife Research. Co-PIs: Salvatore Calabrese, Ph.D., AgriLife Research; Francisco (Pancho) Abello, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension; Nick Duffield, Ph.D., TEES.


As communications manager, Leslie Lee leads TWRI's communications and marketing strategy and team, manages TWRI's publications, and coordinates effective communications support for TWRI's numerous projects serving the state of Texas.

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