The travel grant I was awarded from SSI allowed me to attend the annual conference for the American Water Resources Association. I am seeking a degree in Water Resources Engineering and I am particularly interested in trying to find creative, sustainable solutions to water resource conflicts. At the conference, I was able to present my graduate research as part of a symposium about participatory modeling. The presenters and attendees of the symposium were a dynamic group of forward-thinking, creative problem solvers who have used collaborative processes together with modeling techniques. The goals of these approaches include fostering relationships between water users or managers while supporting co-learning about the dynamics of the water resource. By focusing on relationship building and recognizing the importance of local knowledge in natural resource issues, these approaches aim to produce more sustainable solutions that extend beyond the current conflict and help to grow networks of resource managers who can collaborate on future projects as well.
By speaking in this workshop as well as meeting the other presenters and attendees, I was able to greatly expand my knowledge of this relatively new field. I gained valuable feedback that will not only help to improve my current graduate research project, but will contribute to my knowledge as I try to apply these skills in a career. I was also proud to present my research and share the experience and lessons I have learned so far. Many other attendees commented that my project gave a good example of practical application of the theory.
– Allison Marshall