Assistant Professor of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts Elizabeth Koebele was awarded with one of this year’s Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents’ Rising Researcher Awards. This annual award is given to one faculty member at each Nevada research institution in recognition of early-career accomplishments and potential for future advancement and recognition in research.
Koebele was just awarded promotion and tenure to associate professor with tenure. She was a National Science Foundation CAREER award winner (2021), a College of Liberal Arts Mousel-Feltner award winner (2020), has been awarded with over $1 million dollars in grants, and has earned a handful of other notable awards and accomplishments since she began teaching at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2017.
“It’s really neat to be recognized in a system-wide context and represent the State of Nevada and to be linked in with all the other folks who are doing amazing things at UNR,” Koebele said.
Koebele is well known for her research on water sustainability policy in the Colorado River Basin.
In late 2020, decision makers in the Colorado River Basin began a five-year process of renegotiating various water management rules that are set to expire in 2026. These include rules about how water shortages are "shared" among the U.S. states and with Mexico, as well as how major reservoirs are operated.
Lake Mead and Lake Powell have hit all-time historic lows, and the Colorado River is continuing to experience water shortages. Koebele’s policy research continues to remain relevant with an even more emphasized need for improved sustainability in the future.
“Being able to study a process as its happening and one that is so relevant to Nevada is one that’s really important to me,” she said.
Over the next year, Koebele will begin developing a model of governance for the Colorado River System. Her team will draw on 20 years of historical data to create a model to understand how different policies have worked, or not, to promote systems-wide water sustainability.
“This process needs to ultimately help the issue we’re trying to solve [water sustainability] and advise the next round of policy for the Colorado River Basin,” Koebele said.
Koebele is also one of the authors on the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) for the United States. The assessment will address issues on climate impact and resilience of water resources in the southwest, which includes Nevada.
Aside from water policy, Koebele is a member of the Risk and Social Policy Working Group – an interdisciplinary group of public health, public policy, psychology, political science and communication researchers from across the U.S. examining how individuals perceive the risks associated with COVID-19, as well as how they respond through their behaviors and adherence to policies such as mask-wearing or stay-at-home orders.
The group just completed a second survey to understand attitudes toward the COVID-19 vaccine. They presented this data at a conference in Chicago this spring.
“We’re working on different ways we might communicate risks with the vaccine to hopefully help with future health campaigns,” Koebele said.
She is also excited to write a book chapter on policy theory, which is a topic she teaches in a graduate seminar course. And she will represent the University abroad in Austria this summer at the European Consortium of Political Research Conference.