In late August of 2021, I called Rebecca Jim holding back tears. I had met Jim around 2013 when I was working with a coalition to raise awareness about tar sands extraction and to oppose the construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. Jim is the director of Local Environmental Action Demanded (LEAD), and she has devoted much of her life to bringing attention to the Tar Creek Superfund Site and other environmental justice issues in Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Jim’s work was inspiring and exciting to me, and from 2013 to the present, we maintained a relationship centered around our shared concern for environmental justice issues in Oklahoma. As I began my PhD program and envisioning my dissertation research project, I contacted Jim and asked her if there was some way my research could be useful to her and LEAD. She was excited about the possibility, and over time, we developed a collaborative research project focused on residents’ stories and experiences of water and work throughout processes of industrial development, environmental remediation, and ongoing environmental concerns around the Tar Creek Superfund Site. (read more)
In my year as an Environment & Society Fellow with CLIMAS, I learned just as much about the research process and collaborative research as I did about my actual research topic. I learned that things almost never go as planned or according to schedule, and whatever your original vision for your research was will probably change and evolve into something different – and probably better. (read more)
Groundwater is among the world’s most important natural resources. It provides drinking water to rural and urban communities, supports agriculture and industry, sustains wetland and riparian ecosystems, and maintains the flow of rivers and streams. In many places, groundwater resources are susceptible to risks of overuse and contamination. Its sustainable management is increasingly critical; especially in climate-sensitive geographic areas such as islands and arid lands.
My main interest is in researching karst groundwater sustainability because aquifers storing groundwater in karst systems are commonly found throughout my home country, Jamaica, and other islands in the Caribbean. In Arizona, the major karst aquifer system is found in the north in the Coconino Plateau area; which includes the city of Flagstaff, and the Grand Canyon region. The physical characteristics of karst groundwater systems make them highly susceptible to pollution and climatic influences. Geologic features of karst landscapes, such as sinkholes, act as quick pathways for pollutants to be transported to the aquifer, given that there are little or no soil layers to filter pollutants en route to the aquifer. (read more)