CLIMAS Climate & Society Graduate Fellows

Introducing the 2016 CLIMAS Climate and Society Graduate Fellows

The Climate & Society Graduate Fellows Program supports University of Arizona graduate students whose work connects climate research and decision making. The program is made possible by support from the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS), the International Research Applications Program (IRAP), and the UA Office for Research and Discovery. Fellows receive $5,000 and guidance from members of the CLIMAS research team for one year. The program’s main objective is to train a group of students to cross the traditional boundaries of academic research into use-inspired science and applied research. While CLIMAS research generally occurs in the Southwest U.S., the Fellows program allows students to work anywhere in the world.

Fellows’ projects may follow two tracks. Students who want to conduct collaborative research may use their funding for use-inspired projects. Students who have conducted climate research and want to communicate their findings to audiences outside of academia may use their funding for outreach. Fellows may also use their funding for a combination of the two tracks.

The Climate & Society Graduate Fellows Program helps students address the world’s climate-related problems by funding projects that engage people outside of the university.

The 2016 Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) Climate & Society Graduate Fellows are:

Saleh Ahmed

Developing a Community Hub for Climate Innovations in  Southwest Coastal Bangladesh

Abstract: Bangladesh ranks as one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate variability and change. A majority of local farmers and fishermen, whose livelihoods are dependent on climate-sensitive sectors, do not receive adequate climate information that can help improve their adaptation decision-making and increase community resilience. However, several evidence suggest that poor and marginalized farmers can improve their adaptation decision-making if they receive the appropriate demand-driven climate information in a timely manner. This motivates to develop a stakeholder-driven and user-inspired community hub for climate innovations in southwest coastal Bangladesh, where the livelihoods of majority of people are dependent on climate-sensitive sectors, and exposed to various adverse impacts caused by climate variability and change. This community hub should play instrumental role in creating opportunities for multi-way interactions and knowledge and information exchange by coproducing climate knowledge among various stakeholders concerning climate-related issues that are directly linked to local livelihoods. Ultimately, this community hub for climate innovations should play critical role promoting various social innovations in the region. The fundamental objective of this project, with the support from CLIMAS, is to develop a stakeholders-driven & use-inspired process of needs assessment that feeds into a development proposal, which can ultimately be scaled-up by national or international development partners for larger impacts across the regions. A small farming community in southwest coastal Bangladesh is the focus of this planned project.

Schuyler Chew

Collaborative Outreach and Climate Adaptation Planning with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

Abstract: The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT) in Nevada is deeply connected physically, culturally and spiritually to Pyramid Lake and has made substantial gains to protect this ecosystem. Through collaborative efforts, our research team has been working with PLPT to understand how climate change might impact tribal water resources. We developed a mass-balance approximation tool to simulate Pyramid Lake elevation over time under various climate change scenarios and proposed ten adaptation recommendations that might enhance tribal adaptive capacity. I seek to build on this research endeavor by discussing with PLPT decision makers how to improve the mass-balance tool’s usefulness for water resource planning. I also plan to collaboratively engage with tribal stakeholders to develop a set of guiding principles that the tribe can use to evaluate climate adaptation strategies.

Stina Janssen

Solar Sovereignty: use-inspired collaborative research for affordable off-grid solar on the Navajo Nation

Abstract: The Navajo Nation is experiencing severe and worsening drought conditions exacerbated by climate change. As a CLIMAS Fellow, Stina Janssen will collaborate with Black Mesa Water Coalition (BMWC) to coproduce research usable for the development of off-grid residential solar systems affordable to low income Navajo households. Stina's research will explore constraints and possibilities for finance and community-ownership or community-control structures applicable for BMWC's solar program. 

Sarah Kelly-Richards

Outreach for Small Hydropower Governance in Chile

Abstract: Globally, renewable energy production is promoted as a mitigation strategy for climate change. Supported by a Fulbright Scholarship in Chile, my dissertation research examines the challenges and potential of small hydropower (typically generating between 1 to 20 megawatts) as form of climate change mitigation. As a CLIMAS fellow, I will conduct outreach informed by research findings that is designed to connect local knowledge of small hydropower development with environmental policymaking. Ultimately, my project seeks to support social justice and environmental sustainability within the transition to renewable energy. 

Joy Liu

Dryland conservation in China: local incentives drive collaborative action on regional climate adaptation

Abstract: This project will assess the local incentives that drive collaborative efforts to conserve dryland systems on agricultural landscape in northern China by collaborating with a non-profit organization (NGO) called Green Action Charity Foundation. The Foundation collaborate with two other stakeholders: County-level officials, and village leaders in Shanxi province to develop tree-planting models, and achieve reforestation targets set by the national government. But NGO efforts face the challenge of integrating conservation, local development needs and regional climate adaptation strategies. Data from interviews and ethnographic study conducted during summer 2014 serve as basis to identify possible incentives and disincentives for collaboration among stakeholders. In summer and fall 2016, a comparative community-level climate adaptation profile and drivers for participation in conservation efforts will be documented and analyzed through stakeholder perspectives in two villages in Shanxi and Gansu province, China. These findings will be used by the Foundation and other stakeholders to develop an updated integrative collaborative model that may help us understand what drives dissonance between values and subsequent collaborative behavior in the context of dryland conservation in China.