Elizabeth Koebele is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Reno. She studies and teaches about the processes involved in making and implementing environmental policies. This semester, Koebele has been teaching a graduate seminar on policy process theory. In light of the hardship of the current times due to COVID-19, Koebele stated, “I am so proud of how resilient and engaged my students are despite the online environment.” For the Fall 2021 semester, Koebele will be designing an exciting and innovative new class about land and water policy.
Although much of her work focuses on water resources, she has conducted research on other related topics such as disaster policy. In this realm, Koebele is part of a group of 15 interdisciplinary scholars called the Risk and Social Policy Working Group, which was formed to study the risk perceptions and behaviors around COVID-19. The group secured funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in April 2020 to conduct a three-wave panel survey of respondents in six states. They have also received additional funding for a fourth (post-election) wave of the survey, as well as a second NSF grant for studying public attitudes and policies around a COVID-19 vaccine. For the project, the group is also tracking and coding COVID-19 policies at the state and federal levels.
Given the urgent nature of the COVID-19 crisis, a number of Koebele’s recent publications are technical reports directed at policymakers that share breaking survey data and results. The Risk and Social Policy Working Group has also recently had a paper accepted on racial disparities and COVID-19 risk among individuals deemed essential workers. The group will continue to conduct longer-term analyses and synthesis of their data for answering a variety of political and social science research questions as the emergency response phase of the pandemic subsides.
“I like that political science and specifically policy research, bring together basic and applied science,” Koebele said. “I am hopeful that my work can inform decision-making processes to produce policies that reduce the spread of COVID-19.”