You are here: American University President Announcements September 29, 2021

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community,

Sustainability is more than just a mission, it's part of American University’s DNA and a challenge that our community of changemakers has accepted with purpose. It is a commitment to the change we know can’t wait, and it is a driving force for our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Today, we take the next exciting step in our sustainability journey with the launch of the largest externally funded research grant in our history.

In the United States, 40 percent of all food produced is never eaten, resulting in lost resources, economic costs to businesses and households, decreased food security, and negative climate impacts. As the US moves toward an ambitious goal to significantly reduce food waste by 2030, American University is leading a $15 million, five-year project funded by the National Science Foundation to better understand why so much food gets wasted and explore new technologies to help solve this crisis.

This research exemplifies the impact that AU has on the world’s most pressing problems. Our expert scholars bring unique interdisciplinary approaches to critical challenges and create knowledge that translates into action. The project is led by Sauleh Siddiqui, associate professor of environmental science in the College of Arts and Sciences, and includes partners from Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University, Ohio State University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Maryland Institute College of Art, World Wildlife Fund, University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign, University of Albany, Louisiana State University, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Illinois Institute of Technology, Duke University, and University of California, Davis. Together, we are establishing the first national academic research network to expand our understanding of how the causes of wasted food are interconnected and how they intersect with other regional systems. Professor Siddiqui will be discussing the challenge of wasted food and this research tonight during one of our Family Week faculty expert series virtual events. I hope you can tune in!

I’m excited to share this news with you while I am visiting our beautiful Airlie facility, where the idea for Earth Day was first developed more than 50 years ago. AU’s leadership in sustainability and our ongoing commitment radiates throughout our community. From being the first carbon neutral university in the country and eliminating fossil fuel investments in our endowment to our updated 2021 sustainability plan and our campus arboretum, we are working to address the challenge of climate change. We also recently ranked #19 in the Sierra Club’s list of 2021 Coolest Schools. We don’t just talk about sustainability. AU changemakers step up to this challenge every day!

Please join me in congratulating Professor Siddiqui and his collaborators–Kiho Kim, Malini Ranganathan, Sarah Irvine-Belson, and Tambra Stevenson–on this tremendous opportunity. I also want to thank Provost Peter Starr and Vice Provost for Research Diana Burley, whose dedication to our faculty’s scholarship and our university-wide research enterprise made a tremendous impact in winning this grant. This is a great achievement for our community and another important AU contribution to our changing world.