water-resources changes on San Salvador Island over three generations. I spoke with about a dozen long-time residents of the island and was immediately hooked on the power of storytelling and the importance of people's perception, use, and relationship with their environment. I was especially intrigued by people's memories of how things were and ability to compare how things are in order to understand how things may be in the future.

 

I formalized this interest further by conducting a year-long research into transboundary (international) water resources management of the Lake Ohrid Watershed in Albania, FYR Macedonia, and Greece as a Boren Fellow. I conducted over 75 interviews with locals and officials for my Master's Thesis and as a contribution to the United Nations Development Programme's Prespa Park Project.

 

I finished my academic journey temporarily with a Master of Science and worked for private and public institutions. I worked in journalism, on energy issues, on international relations questions, and even did a stint in publishing as an editor. Eventually I went to work for the US Government as a geospatial analyst of environmental security issues. Here, I returned to water resources with a team that included engineers, political scientists, and international relations specialists. A few years of this work inspired me to go back to school to pursue my own research questions. 

 

I found Dr. Aaron Wolf's work, water as a platform for peace and cooperation, and approached him about a PhD at Oregon State University. I worked as Wolf's research assistant on the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database while I completed my PhD in Geography and Certification in Water Conflict Mediation with Fellowship support of the US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation and Award support from the Gray Family Foundation. I developed a thesis about changes to human security (similar to water security) due to dam development. For this, I conducted a year of field research on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the Xayaburi Dam.

 

I currently work as a Postdoctoral Associate for Florida International University's Institute for Water and the Environment. Within this role, I manage the SELVA-Serengeti-Lake Victoria Sustainable Water Initiative for the Mara River in Tanzania under Dr. Elizabeth Anderson's Tropical Rivers Laboratory. We are looking at the Mara River as a human and ecological system undergoing change from human pressures through development and climate change. As the geographer, I contribute perspective of scale, networks, relationships, as well as social sciences-related water security research methods.

 

What is next?

I will continue to pursue the question of water security and water sustainability across the globe. The river resources stories I uncover in my work tell of a rapidly changing planet, competing values and beliefs, development plans, and a disconnected international community. The ecological stories uncovered in my work are of poorly understood systems, disappearing species and habitat, and a fragmented and limited relic system. I believe there is much work to be done and so much more to understand. There are frontiers to explore, new species to catalogue, different ways to manage water, and so much to learn! The human stories I hear are of people caught in the middle of a changing world, hopeful for improved quality of life, fearful of limited opportunity or choice, and adapting to their situations at the risk of losing culture and tradition. The voices of the river and the environment tell of alarming loss, change, but surprising persistence. I hope to continue to capture and share these stories.

My Background

I studied environmental sciences and focused on rocks and water (hydrogeology) at the University of New Haven. I was interested in ecology and my professor convinced me that I should first understand how the soils and water work, and there I stayed. Beyond my coursework, I believe my work in water resources actively began in 2003 when I was invited on a research trip to the Bahamas to the Gerace Research Center. I designed a small project to assess land-use and

 

 

© 2015 by Jennifer Veilleux

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