Ray joins Nebraska Water Center as director

Chittaranjan Ray
Chittaranjan Ray

Chittaranjan Ray joined the leadership team of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute as permanent director of the Nebraska Water Center on Aug. 1.

Ray was a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he also was interim director of the Water Resources Research Center at UH, which like the Nebraska Water Center is part of a network of more than 54 water resources research institutes that were established by Congressional mandate in 1964. Most of these centers are located at state Land Grant Universities.

In Hawaii, Ray also was Director of the university’s Environmental Center and as Chief Environmental Engineer for the Applied Research Laboratory, a U.S. Navy sponsored facility at UH.

Before joining the UH faculty in 1997, Ray held positions in industry and at the Illinois State Water Survey. The holder of a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Illinois, he has extensive experience in many facets of managing both water quantity and water quality issues.

Ray replaces interim director Suat Irmak, a UNL irrigation engineer and Harold W. Eberhard Distinguished Professor of Biological Systems Engineering in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. Irmak had been interim director since January 2012.

Bruce I. Dvorak, an environmental engineer and Chair of UNL’s Department of Civil Engineering, preceded him as interim director. Soil scientist Mark Kuzila, state geologist and head of UNL’s Conservation and Survey Division within the School of Natural Resources, was acting interim director of the center between Dvorak and Irmak’s appointments.

Ray, who also has an academic appointment as a professor in UNL’s Department of Civil Engineering, said he was attracted to UNL because the center was looking for a director versed in domestic water issues, including drought and irrigation, but who is also aware of global issues.

"I am very excited to know that this position will provide me an opportunity to work directly under founding DWFI executive director Roberto Lenton, who has tremendous amounts of international experiences on water,” Ray said.

Ray also said he is looking forward to meeting and working with the center's stakeholders, learning more about Nebraska water issues and exploring research opportunities and collaborations.

DWFI also has announced that Christopher Neale will join the Institute in October as director of research. Neale is a professor in the irrigation engineering division of the civil and environmental engineering department at Utah State University.

“I am delighted by the appointment of Drs. Neale and Ray,” Lenton said. “They will play critically important roles in advancing the work of the Water for Food Institute in Nebraska and other parts of the world facing critical water for food challenges.”

The Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska is a research, education and policy analysis institute committed to helping the world efficiently use its limited freshwater resources, with particular focus on ensuring the food supply for current and future generations.