New vision for UB RENEW Institute

Two women in a lab.

Ning Dai (right) is leading the Sustainable Water and Engineered Systems focus area of RENEW.  Photo: Douglas Levere

by Charlotte Hsu

Published May 2, 2022

Four faculty from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are leading RENEW's new focus areas for research, education and community engagement.

"The focus areas are based on identified strengths in the UB community and immediate societal needs."
Diana Aga, director
UB RENEW Institute

The institute’s four new focus areas are:

RENEW, which stands for “Research and Education in Energy, Environment and Water,” is a university-wide, multidisciplinary research institute that serves as an intellectual hub for faculty engaged in those areas.

As one example, RENEW will host a one-day workshop in May entitled “Health Equity Dimensions of a Changing Climate: Challenges and Opportunities,” co-sponsored by the Office of Inclusive Excellence. Featuring proposal-development breakout sessions and perspectives from speakers representing academia, federal institutes, international policy think tanks and local government, the event is open to UB scholars eager to investigate the impact of the changing climate on health inequities. Interested faculty can learn more by contacting the institute at

The four focus areas will bring researchers with convergent interests together to develop programs and proposals with RENEW’s administrative and logistical support.

“These focus areas were developed with the input of a transdisciplinary steering committee, which is a new governance framework I established for RENEW,” says RENEW Institute Director Diana Aga, who has led RENEW since August 2021. “The focus areas are based on identified strengths in the UB community and immediate societal needs.

“Once the leaders of the focus areas convene with constituent team members, they will collectively refine the focus area descriptions and aims to comport with strengths and research interests of participating members,” Aga explains. “Faculty autonomy is important to me; hence I encourage the focus area leaders to define their research priorities and long-term goals according to the composition, interests and strengths of their members. I believe this approach stimulates innovation and creativity.”

In an interview with UBNow, Aga shared her vision for RENEW and how her team is collaborating with partners across UB on shared goals, building on the institute’s past efforts since it was established in 2014.

“We will measure our success by the contributions we make to successful projects and proposals, including for large, highly competitive grants that involve multidisciplinary researchers that will have big impact, both at a global and community level,” Aga says. “We are also increasing our efforts to provide educational and research opportunities in STEM for underrepresented minorities, starting from high school students.”

Read the full story in UB Now.