People

Director | Students | Research Staff | Alumni

Wendy Jepson

Director, Water Security and Governance Lab
Dr. Wendy Jepson is a University Professor in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University where she has been on faculty since receiving her Ph.D. in Geography from UCLA in 2003. Her research addresses contemporary debates in political ecology, human-environment interactions, and environmental governance. She also leads the NSF-funded Household Water Insecurity Experiences – Research Coordination Network (HWISE-RCN) and other projects. Details can be found on her Research profile.
Email: wjepson@tamu.edu

PhD Students

Lauren Nyquist

Ph.D. Student, Geography
Ms. Lauren Nyquist is a first-year PhD student in Geography. Over the course of her degree, she will examine the state of transboundary water governance in sub-Saharan Africa and hopes to eventually focus on the Okavango Basin. Ms. Nyquist currently works as the program coordinator for the Household Water Insecurity Experiences – Research Coordination Network (HWISE-RCN) at Texas A&M University. She received her B.A. in International Relations and Global Studies + Geography from The University of Texas at Austin. While at UT-Austin, she completed her undergraduate thesis on transboundary water policy and conflict in the Lake Chad Basin. Ms. Nyquist also researched the nexus of social media, youth political engagement, and democratic development within the context of the Ukrainian election of Volodymyr Zelensky. Email: lauren.nyquist@tamu.edu

Matt Stellbauer

Ph.D. Student, Water Management and Hydrological Sciences
Mr. Matt Stellbauer (@Stellbauer) is a Ph.D. student in the Water Management and Hydrological Science Program.  Through his research, Mr. Stellbauer explores  Multiple-Use Water Services in Sub-Saharan Africa .  His research seeks to understand how rural and peri-urban populations use water for both domestic and productive needs, and how the trade-offs and opportunity work to promote sustainable livelihoods.  Mr. Stellbauer also serves as the Project Manager for The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Small Scale Irrigation, a global research program led by Texas A & M that aims to expand sustainable small-scale irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia.  Before joining Texas, A&M, he spent seven years as a special projects officer with The United States Department of Agriculture, where he led and facilitated water security programs for rural farmers in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He holds an MSc in International Agricultural Development from Texas A&M University Mr. Stellbauer is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, having served in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Email: Matt.Stellbauer@ag.tamu.edu

Anna Van de Grift

Ph.D. Student, Geography
Ms. Anna Van de Grift is a Ph.D. student in the Geography Department at Texas A&M University. Her research will investigate the extent and defining factors of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) insecurity for homeless urban populations in the U.S. Research analysis will encompass the availability of formal and informal WASH resources, experiences of homeless WASH insecurity and provision-related policy in the city of Seattle, Washington. Her M.A. research at Syracuse University focused on the politics of participatory water governance institutions in the central highlands of Peru. She is currently employed as a teacher’s assistant in the Geography Department. Email: vand5388@tamu.edu

Masters Students

Cindy Figueroa

M.S. Student, Geography
Ms. Cindy Figueroa is a first-year Masters student in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University. Cindy graduated from Texas A&M with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Meteorology in 2019. Prior to attending graduate school, Cindy interned with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Policy Staff where she gained experience working with federal water policy and performed a benefit-cost analysis on improving impaired waters in Florida. Cindy now works as a graduate research assistant with the Pathways to Sustainable Urban Water Security project. Her current research will employ Q-methodology to examine perceptions and understandings of global water sector actors regarding how they envision their role and technologies in sustainability goals. Email: cindyfigueroaa@tamu.edu

Grace Harmon

M.S. Student, Geography
Ms. Grace Harmon is a first-year M.S. in Geography student, assisting the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Small Scale Irrigation with research on farmer-led irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa. She is conducting qualitative research on policy trends in the irrigation sector and the extent to which participatory workshops and conferences have translated into policy in the past 15 years. This is one component of a larger effort to understand how farmer-led irrigation can generate income, improve food security, and increase climate resiliency of smallholder farmers. Grace earned her B.A. in Environmental Policy from Colorado College, where she examined water sharing agreements between urban municipalities and irrigation districts in Colorado’s Front Range as well as the efficacy of the government-sanctioned remediation of the Matanza-Riachuelo River in Buenos Aires Province. Email: gharmon@tamu.edu

Victoria Harrington

M.S. Student, Geography
Ms. Victoria Harrington is a second year Masters student in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University. She graduated with B.A. degrees in Geography and Anthropology from the University of Florida in 2019, where she first gained field experience with survey- and interview-based research. Her research focuses on how water insecurity shifts from being an acute to chronic issue, post-natural disaster. Specifically, she will focus on how Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath impacted the water systems of communities in the Golden Triangle – Port Arthur, Beaumont, and Orange –as well as the current status of recovery at the household level. By utilizing a political ecology framework, she will be able to draw relationships and connections on what influences a communities vulnerability to water system failures. Email: vharrington@tamu.edu.

Nichole Mehlhaff

M.S. Student, Geography
Ms. Nichole Mehlhaff is a second year Masters student in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University. Broadly her research interests include urban political ecology, food and water insecurity, urban sustainability, and environmental justice. She is currently working on her thesis regarding the roles of food banks in minority communities as they relate to food insecurity and food accessibility. She graduated with geoscience writing and research skills from Texas A&M in 2019 with a Bachelors in Environmental Studies. In addition to her thesis research, she serves as an assistant researcher and program coordinator for the Pathways to Sustainable Urban Water Security project. Email: nichole.mehlhaff@tamu.edu.

Research Staff

Amanda Fencl

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Pathways to Sustainable Urban Water Security
Dr. Amanda Fencl (@alfencl) is an interdisciplinary environmental geographer researching how environmental governance arrangements (re)produce uneven access to water resources and can both build and undermine resilience to future changes. She completed her Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California, Davis in July 2019 through the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior. Her dissertation research explored the ways in which California’s complex water governance system is adapting to changing environmental conditions and extreme events, like drought. Prior to UC Davis, she was a Staff Scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute’s US Center in the water resources and climate change adaptation research groups. Email: alfencl@tamu.edu.

Kyungsun Lee

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Pathways to Sustainable Urban Water Security
Dr. Kyungun Lee’s (@kyungslee14) long-standing research interest is to examine the governance of socio-technical systems toward sustainability by focusing on how innovative environmental technologies are developed, diffused, and implemented in contemporary society. Her doctoral dissertation research explored how to promote and govern socio-technical systems transitions toward sustainability drawing on the experience of implementation of Eco-Industrial Parks in South Korea and Japan. Her work with the X-Grant project explores how desalination and wastewater reuse technologies deliver sustainability transition of urban water systems by using systematic review, global production network analysis, and social network analysis. Email: kylee@tamu.edu

Gretchen Sneegas

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Pathways to Sustainable Urban Water Security
Dr. Gretchen Sneegas (@GretchenSneegas) critically examines food, energy, and water as key mediators of human-environment interaction. As a human geographer with interdisciplinary training, she combines critical social theory and mixed methods to examine resource governance in times of disturbance and conflict. Her research seeks to understand uneven landscapes of power which shape and constrain how people interact with diverse resources. Dr. Sneegas completed her Ph.D. in the Geography Department at the University of Georgia, where her research examined how farmers in the Marcellus Shale Basin are shaped as ‘shale gas subjects’ at the intersection of multiple, overlapping, and contradictory environmental knowledges, discourses, institutions, and pre-existing multi-subjectivities. As part of her dissertation, she developed ‘critical Q methodology,’ an innovative mixed methods approach combining critical discourse analysis and standard Q methodology to examine environmental discourse, behavior, and knowledge as the products of diverse social and political contexts. In her work with the Pathways to Urban Sustainability X-Grant, Dr. Sneegas is coordinating multiple case studies in Texas, California, Australia, Israel, and at the global corporate sector scale. Her focus within the project examines diverse perspectives on desalination technologies at each of these case study sites using a mixed methods approach. Dr. Sneegas is building on her Pathways work to examine the role of intermediary institutions in shaping sustainable transitions at the intersections of urban agri-food and water systems. Email: gsneegas@tamu.edu.

Sydney Beckner

Research Assistant, Pathways to Sustainable Urban Water Security
Ms. Sydney Beckner is a Research Associate at the Texas Water Resources Institute. Sydney’s research interests include urban water security and environmental governance. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Geoscience and recently obtained her M.S. in Geography, both from Texas A&M University. For the Pathways project, Sydney will conduct Q-Method studies in the two Texas study sites of San Antonio and El Paso. She has experience with the methodology and governance regimes in Texas from her Master’s work on understanding social perspectives on the controversial Vista Ridge Pipeline. Email me: sbeckner@tamu.edu

Lab Alumni

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