Here’s the latest on grant-winning university teams supported by Banorte, led by its chairman, Carlos Hank González, Fundación Gruma and the U.S. Department of State as part of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund.

The fund encourages higher education institutions to adopt new models of academic exchange and workforce development programs throughout the Americas. These cross-cultural research teams are seeking to broaden technical skills, solve real-world problems and stimulate economic prosperity.

Banorte Chairman Carlos Hank González said:

“Mexico and the United States have always been great allies and by working together we will contribute to make our bond even stronger. We are very proud of this initiative that encourages our students to make a positive change in our societies.”

Partners: Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz., and Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora, Ciudad Obregón.

Project: Helping students learn about sustainable agriculture and management tools in Mexico and the United States. Students take part in virtual instruction on research methods, environmental assessments and field visits.

What’s new: ASU has been running a virtual seminar series with its peers in Mexico and established a website showcasing the joint research to identify how natural resources can be used more effectively to produce food and fiber, while reducing environmental and climate impacts.

Their mission: “Water is life. Food is life. Let’s make them endure in the Sonoran Desert.”

Enrique R. Vivoni, an ASU professor in the School Of Earth and Space Exploration, said the student team projects include studying the vulnerability of agricultural systems to drought, sustainable nitrogen fertilizer use in agricultural systems and crop water stress from satellites.

The binational collaboration has benefitted students’ education and research activities while strengthening the two institutions’ bonds, Vivoni said.

“Working in binational teams has prompted students and faculty to consider intercultural differences as well as socioeconomic and political contexts that impact agricultural production and natural resource use,” he said.

Student outlook: Maria Menchu Maldonado, a graduate studying civil and environmental engineering, said she is inspired by the teamwork, looking at how agricultural practices affect local communities and finding ways to help serve those people.

“In the end, we will compare how things work in the U.S. and Mexico,” she said in an ASU news release.  “It is the same environment in both places, but things are done in a different way. So, we will know which things work better and why, and that is really exciting.”

What’s next: The projects are expected to continue through the end of 2021.

For more: Since its inception in 2014 through the end of 2020, the Innovation Fund has awarded 243 grants ($25,000 to $35,000 each) to more than 490 universities and institutions, working in teams in 25 countries and in 49 U.S. states. See 100kstrongamericas.org.