Leadership Team

Executive Committee

Wendy Jepson
University Professor of Geography
Texas A&M University

Keywords:  Water Insecurity, Human Geography

Description:  Dr. Jepson has been on the Texas A&M faculty since receiving her Ph.D. in Geography from UCLA. Dr. Jepson has several projects that intersect with the research theme of water security: (1) household water insecurity in the US and Latin America (Brazil and Mexico); (2) sustainability and urban water security. Dr. Jepson was a recent Fulbright Scholar (2016-2017) and a recipient of several National Science Foundation grants that focus on water security. She also has generated over $2.0 million in grants and awards as lead PI from NSF, private sources, and internal awards to support her research agenda. Jepson is also an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Leshner Fellow for Public Engagement in Science (Water & Food Security, 2018-2019).

Chad Staddon
Professor of Resource Economics and Policy
Director, International Water Security Network
University of West of England, Bristol

Keywords:  Water Economics, Security, Community

Description:  Dr. Staddon is Professor of Resource Economics and Policy at UWE, Bristol, and founder-director of the International Water Security Network. In the course of his 20 year career he has studied water services in Canada, the US, the UK and many European countries. He has published more than 40 scientific papers and books, given more than 100 public lectures and is frequently called upon to comment on relevant government policy. His current research interests lie in the area of better understanding the nature and drivers of urban water demand and the potential for social and economic instruments to drive conservation efforts.

Justin Stoler
Associate Professor of Geography and Public Health Sciences
University of Miami

Keywords:  Water Insecurity, Global Environmental Health, Geodemographics

Description:  Dr. Stoler’s research explores the geographic patterns of urban health disparities and environmental influences on social and behavioral epidemiology. He is also an affiliate of the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy. Dr. Stoler enjoys field work and has worked in several countries—including a decade of experience in Accra, Ghana—exploring links between neighborhood structure, geodemographics, the environment, communicable diseases, and water insecurity.

Amber Wutich
President’s Professor of Anthropology
Director, Center for Global Health
School of Human Evolution & Social Change
Arizona State University

Keywords:  Ecological, Economic and Biocultural Anthropology; Institutions; Environmental Justice; Water and Food Insecurity; Global Mental Health; Cross-cultural Research; Latin America; Field Methods

Description:  Dr. Wutich’s research examines institutional injustice and health disparities, with a focus on water and food. Dr. Wutich directs the Global Ethnohydrology Study, a cross-cultural study of water knowledge and institutions in 10 countries. As a methodologist, she co-authored Analyzing Qualitative Data (SAGE, 2016) and co-edits the journal Field Methods. Dr. Wutich’s teaching has been recognized with the Carnegie CASE Arizona Professor of the Year award.

Steering Committee

Ellis A. Adams
Assistant Professor of Global Studies and Geosciences
Georgia State University

Keywords:  global water security, water policy and governance, water resources, water sanitation-health, cities and informal settlements, Africa, urban political ecology, global health, gender, human-environment interactions, community-based natural resources management (CBNRM)

Description: Dr. Adams’ research lies at the intersection of human-environment interactions in cities, poor urban and peri-urban, and informal settlements of Sub-Saharan Africa. His primary research for the past few years has explored institutional, governance, and socio-political dimensions of water resources and potable water access in the Sub-Saharan African context, including the role of neoliberal, market-based privatization of urban water supply. His most recent project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant examined the impact of decentralization reforms (via community-public partnerships) on access to potable water in Malawi’s urban and peri-urban informal settlements.

Alexandra Brewis
President’s Professor
Founding Director, Center for Global Health
Co-Director, Mayo Clinic-ASU Obesity Solutions
School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Arizona State University

Keywords:  good health and well-being, food, public health, water resources and treatment, nutrition, obesity, climate change and adaption, inequality, adaption, medical anthropology, urban ecology, food policy, water resource management, poverty, human adaption

Description:  Trained as an anthropologist, Dr. Brewis’ scholarship is currently focused on how health-related stigma shapes human biology, health, and suffering. She has a long career of leading community-based field research at multiple sites across the globe, addressing the biocultural dimensions of complex health issues (including ADHD, infertility, family planning, depression, and nutrition). She is also concerned with how best to translate social science research for public good, by addressing such challenges as water insecurity, improving development project design and monitoring, and properly tailored anti-obesity efforts. At ASU, Brewis Slade teaches global health and anthropology and co-directs the Global Impact Collaboratory. She is an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellow and president of the Human Biology Association.


Jessica Budds
Senior Lecturer in Geography and International Development
School of International Development
University of East Anglia

Keywords:  water governance, water security, international development, political ecology, hydrosocial cycle, Latin America

Description:  Dr. Budds’s research explores shifting water-society relations in the context of economic change in the global South. Starting with the idea that water is socially produced and constructed, she seeks to elucidate the politics embedded in patterns of water allocation and use, modes of hydraulic infrastructure, water governance frameworks, and framings of water issues, over both time and space, which shape the lives, livelihoods, landscapes and identities of marginalised social groups. Her work has focused on two key themes: the application of neoliberal principles to water policy and their outcomes (water privatisation, water markets, payments for watershed ecosystem services), and the implications of increased demand for water by industrial sectors (agriculture, mining, hydropower). With empirical research concentrated in Latin America (Chile, Peru, Brazil), Budds’s work shows how these processes of hydrosocial change serve to legitimize and sustain existing unequal power relations and forms of capital accumulation.

Vanessa Empinotti
Assistant Professor
Universidade Federal do ABC

Keywords: water governance, water insecurity, rural-urban relations, institutional arrangements, political ecology, Brazil

Description: Dr. Empinotti is Assistant Professor in Rural Policy and Planning in the Spatial Planning Program at Federal University of ABC (UFABC) in Brazil. Her research employs Critical Political Ecology to analyze institutional arrangements, environmental governance, and power relations. She is interested in the studies of water security in marginalized settings; hydrosocial territories and spatial planning, and rural gentrification and the access to natural resources. Her early research focused on power relations and access to water in the context of participatory institutions in the São Francisco River Watershed in Brazil. More recently, she has investigated drought and its influence over water governance in megacities, the dynamics of water governance in agricultural frontier regions, transparency in water resources management, and water insecurity in São Paulo’s inner city in Brazil. She is currently driving two new projects: (1) the dynamics of rural gentrification in the Brazilian countryside and (2) water insecurity, alternative solutions, and vulnerability in the context of São Paulo macrometropole.

Hala Ghattas
Associate Research Professor
Interim Director, Center for Research on Population and Health
Faculty of Health Sciences
American University of Beirut

Keywords:  Food insecurity

Description:  Dr. Ghattas’ research has focused on the biological, social and structural determinants of maternal and child health and nutrition in low-resource settings and marginalised populations. Her research includes mixed-methods studies of food insecurity experience, barriers to appropriate infant feeding, and barriers to antenatal care access in Lebanon, as well as survey research on food security, nutrition and health status of refugees. Her work responds to the challenges identified by designing, implementing and evaluating public health interventions to address these. Examples include a community-based intervention to empower marginalised women through the establishment of social enterprises that cater healthy food to refugee schoolchildren, and community radio aiming to link refugee women with reproductive health information.

Leila M. Harris
Associate Professor, University of British Columbia
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability
Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice

Keywords:  political ecology, water politics and governance, environmental justice, gender and equity

Description:  Dr. Harris’s research examines social, cultural and political-economic and equity dimensions of environmental and resource issues. Much of her work has focused on key themes of water politics and governance, political ecology and environmental justice, critical development studies, and intersectional and feminist approaches to nature-society studies. Early research focused on multi-scalar and political ecological analysis of Turkey’s large scale transformation of the upper Tigris-Euphrates basin and the politics of conservation mapping. More recent projects focus on water security and governance, environmental citizenship, the politics associated with the human right to water, urban water resilience, indigenous water governance, and transforming water governance for equity and sustainability (with projects in Canada, Turkey, Ghana and South Africa). A new collaborative project will focus on non-material dimensions of household water insecurity (HWI), with particular interest visual methods and the relationship between HWI and broader socio-political considerations, including community engagement.

Michelle Kooy
Associate Professor
Politics of Urban Water
IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education

Keywords:  urban water cycle, wastewater, piped water, cost and benefits, urban water supply, water governance, water security

Description:  Dr. Kooy’s research is concerned with how inequalities in access to water and exposure to water related risks in and across urban spaces are mediated through water infrastructure. Theorizing the politics of water infrastructure from the global south she decenters the role of centralized networks in her analysis, focusing instead on the ways in which urban water systems are connected through a range of practices and technologies, and how these simultaneously social, technical, and ecological connections shape the uneven distribution of water and related risks within urban spaces and across rural/urban boundaries.

Katie Meehan
Associate Professor
Department of Human Geography
King’s College London
Plumbing Poverty Project

Keywords:  water policy and governance, infrastructure and cities, science/policy interface, political ecology, Latin American sciences and technology studies

Description: A human geographer and water policy specialist by training, Dr. Meehan’s expertise includes urban political ecology, infrastructural geography, water and wastewater governance, social justice and inequality, and the politics of environmental knowledge, especially at the science-policy interface. Early research focused on informal water use and state power in Mexican cities; her current project explores the racialized nature of water infrastructure provision in the Americas, including the impacts of household water insecurity on human health and well-being. A two-time Fulbright scholar and former Peace Corps Volunteer, Dr. Meehan has worked in water research and development projects in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and the U.S. Southwest.


Amber Pearson
Assistant Professor
Department of Geography
Michigan State University

Keywords:  Health inequalities; Geospatial analytics; Social conditions

Description: Dr. Pearson is a health geographer with a focus on social justice and understanding the unexpected tenacity, adaptability and resilience of the underprivileged, while paying careful attention to the structural and social factors that led to disadvantage in the first place. Her water research is at the intersection of spatial and social dimensions of health with a focus on water security. Her overall research goal is to understand the interactions between human-induced ecological change, political and social dimensions of water security, and strategies to improve health and well-being.

Roseanne Schuster
Assistant Research Scientist
School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Arizona State University

Keywords:  epidemiology, nutrition, water, public and community health, health disparities, women’s reproductive health, health and human resources, food security, global health

Description: Dr. Schuster is a global nutrition and public health professional dedicated to increasing the impact of research and programming through innovative, cost-effective, and culturally responsive monitoring, evaluation, and learning. She has a decade of experience in the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs seeking to improve health and environmental and social wellbeing. Schuster engages community-based, participatory, and implementation science approaches in interventions and evaluations to ensure programs are ultimately responsive to target populations and adaptive to the complex systems in which they operate.

Farhana Sultana
Associate Professor of Geography and Research Director (Environment), Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC)
Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Syracuse University

Keywords:  water governance; gender and water; water insecurity; climate and water; water justice; South Asia

Description:  Water is the ‘lens’ through which I understand the complexities socio-ecological transformations and realities of the world and to explore and explain complex and multi-scalar processes. My research interests are informed by multi-scalar analyses of processes of development and globalization that come to impact poverty, well-being, and socio-ecological change. Thus, my research sits at the confluence of a range of theoretical and epistemological framings, with the goal to inform and encourage social justice across a range of scales. I have had long-standing research interests in gender, water, and development issues in the global South, and ways by which development and privatization of water resources affect different groups of people intersectionally across sites and scales, and what this means to broader issues of development, democracy, citizenship and social justice.

Michael Tiboris
Global Water Fellow
Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Keywords:  water policy, foreign policy, development, agriculture, global justice

Description:  Dr. Tiboris’s research concerns water resource stability as a foreign policy objective. He is particularly focused on the relationship between economic water insecurity and social instability, especially in the consequences of this for cooperative resource governance and agricultural development policy. He also has ongoing research projects on water insecurity as a problem of global environmental justice in which social and economic inequality is translated into various forms of environmental insecurity.

Cassandra Workman
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Keywords:  development, environmental health, environmental science, medical anthropology, public health

Description:  Dr. Workman conducts social science research in United States and sub‐Saharan Africa, with expertise in mixed-method qualitative and quantitative research design, implementation and analysis. Topical specializations include international development, gender and development, global and environmental health including syndemic theory, water insecurity, food security, and infectious disease.

Sera Young
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Northwestern University

Keywords:  Water and food Insecurity, metrics, maternal and child undernutrition

Description: Dr. Young’s research focuses on the reduction of maternal and child undernutrition in the first 1000 days, especially in low-resource settings. Methodologically, she draws on her training in medical anthropology (MA, University of Amsterdam), international nutrition (PhD, Cornell) and HIV (Fellowship, University of California San Francisco) to take a biocultural approach to understanding how mothers in low-resource settings cope to preserve their health and that of their families.