By Carly Sauvageau
Karen Simpson, a Ph.D. student in the department political science of at the University of Nevada, Reno, has received the Bilinski Educational Foundation Dissertation Year Fellowship. The Bilinski Educational Foundation gifted $500,000 to the College of Liberal Arts in 2012 to be dispersed among 20 scholars over the years to fund their last year of dissertation research. The goal of the fellowship is to free the student of other financial obligations so they can focus solely on their research. The funding Simpson will receive in the upcoming academic year will allow her to write the dissertation she has been researching for two years.
“This is a great opportunity that will provide me with the ability to undertake a relatively ambitious project effectively,” Simpson said.
Simpson is studying climate adaptation with an emphasis on water management in developing areas. “The dissertation I'm working on focuses on adaptation planning processes for water management, particularly in snow-fed arid river basins (the Truckee-Carson is one), with an international focus.”
As the long-term impacts of climate change begin to appear, the U.S. is approaching a window within the next five-to-10 years to manage water resources effectively. Water management is important in this context, because water resources are particularly vulnerable to climate change and impact many other social and political systems. Simpson’s research explores how factors (social, economic, ecological, etc.) relevant to adaptation and water management, vary across basins with different hydro-climatic features. Simpson’s research also looks at the social processes that produce adaptation policy in developed and developing countries.
“There is a lot we still don't know about how climate change is going to impact various systems, including water, across areas,” Simpson said. “Expanding where and what we look at for this type of research is going to be increasingly important as the effects of climate change increase in severity.”
Simpson went on to explain, “Climate adaptation is a very complex problem – particularly with regards to water – and it involves dealing with new and unforeseen conditions. Therefore, flexibility and diversity are both assets in terms of addressing adaptation issues effectively.”
After graduation, Simpson would like to continue putting her research into practice by working with local and international organizations on water management as the country moves further into the effects of climate change.
“Simpson’s work will contribute significantly to understanding how regional, international, water basin policy is developed and implemented,” Associate Professor of Political Science, William Eubank said. “Knowing how information flows is important to efficiently developing basin governance, management and implementation,”
Simpson intends to defend her dissertation in Spring 2022.