When I started my graduate program at the University of Arizona, my goal was to expand my knowledge of human and environmental impacts on water and watersheds and, more importantly, acquire the necessary tools to improve water governance by increasing societal participation in water resource management. My motivation to pursue a M.S. in Water, Society and Policy in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at University of Arizona was to address disparity in water access.
In all my courses I found a common theme: avoiding the risk of silos of information and decision-making. After the first semester of my program I quickly came to realize that I was following a path away from my goal of collaborative management. My plan of study strictly focused on water law, policy, and economics, which were areas of interest extending from my undergraduate studies. I was actively putting myself in a silo by engaging with what was familiar and not what would spark change.
One of my classmates recommended applying to the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (SW CASC) Natural Resources Workforce Development (NRWD) Fellowship. The NRWD Fellowship looked like a great opportunity to chart a path toward my goal. The Fellowship builds an interdisciplinary team to develop “use-inspired actionable science to inform natural resource management decisions.” The NRWD Fellowship was perfectly aligned with my goals, and I am fortunate to have been selected to join this year’s cohort.
The 2022-2023 NRWD Fellows truly comprise an interdisciplinary team. In our initial meetings, it was clear to me that this type of collaborative work is necessary in my future career in water management. The initial challenge of working with a remote interdisciplinary team of seven was to determine the direction of our project. This year’s Fellowship theme is “Climate-informed management of natural resources in aquatic ecosystems to support effective climate adaptation.” Our project timeline is a mere 12 months. Our approach is to divide into subgroups to address different components of the project. Members of each subgroup are not necessarily experts but have interest in gaining additional knowledge about the topic or component. I participate in the subgroup focused on compiling and analyzing data regarding water quality.
While my studies focus on water, the breadth of my research is focused on policy and management. Working within my cohort and subgroup, I am exposed to a more science-based perspective on how to analyze water data. Blending science and policy perspectives is one of the most significant benefits that I will receive from this Fellowship. If anyone wants to work toward interdisciplinary, collaborative decision-making and away from the silo, then I recommend joining the NRWD Fellowship!