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The University of Nebraska on Tuesday announced Peter McCornick as the next executive director of its Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute.

McCornick, an internationally known expert in water, food and environmental research, is deputy director general for research at the International Water Management Institute in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

He will succeed Roberto Lenton at the center on Nebraska Innovation Campus.

“Roberto set the stage for the Water for Food Institute’s global reach,” McCornick said in a statement. “I appreciate the tremendous work he has done in developing a strong team and growing the institute from an idea to a fully operational research center that is truly making a difference in improving water and food security for generations to come.”

McCornick has led research and development efforts on water, agriculture and the environment in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the United States, and has interests in water and food security, the water-food-energy nexus, water reuse, irrigation management and water and climate adaptation.

He'll start work in Lincoln Sept. 1 and holds a doctorate in agricultural engineering from Colorado State University and is a member of the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers as well as a senior fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Born in Scotland, McCornick grew up on a livestock and dairy farm.

“We are fortunate to have attracted someone with Peter McCornick’s reputation and expertise to the executive director position,” NU President Hank Bounds said in a news release. “His deep knowledge of water and agricultural development in global contexts and his strong leadership skills will accelerate the impact the institute is making in ensuring water and food security in Nebraska and around the world."

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McCornick will be among the featured speakers at the 2016 Water for Food Global Conference, set for April 24-26 at Innovation Campus.

The annual conference attracts hundreds of scholars, policy experts, farmers and ranchers. This year's gathering is “Catalytic Collaborations: Building Public-Private Partnerships for Water and Food Security.”

Registration is open through April 18 at waterforfood.nebraska.edu.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.

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Higher education reporter

Chris Dunker covers higher education, state government and the intersection of both.

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