ThinkWater Fellows Announced for 2017-18


USDA-Funded Fellowship Enables Regional/State Water Experts to Incorporate Systems Thinking in Education, Outreach, and Extension.

Ithaca, N.Y.  March 27, 2017

ThinkWater is excited to announce the selection of ten leaders in water education, outreach, and extension to be ThinkWater Fellows for 2017-18. The ThinkWater fellowship builds a cohort of scholars and professionals engaged with water-related issues and teaches them systems thinking for application to their ongoing professional work. While the first cohort of ThinkWater fellows were advanced scholars and faculty conducting water-related research, fellows from the second cohort work in positions that allow them to integrate systems thinking into program design, education, and outreach involving a broad range of audiences, such as farmers, community members, volunteers, and youth.

The fellowship committee received many outstanding applications from candidates across the country doing important work in the water arena. The following ten were ultimately selected:

  • Professor J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr. (Environmental Sociologist, Iowa State University)
  • Jim Collins, Jr. (North Dakota Department of Health Division of Water Quality)
  • Professor Helen E. Dahlke (Project Lead, Agricultural Groundwater Recharge and Banking, University of California, Davis)
  • Kristin Floress (Research Social Scientist, US Forest Service)
  • Deborah Suzanne Groebner (MinnAqua, Fish & Wildlife Division, MN Department of Natural Resources)
  • Jo A. Latimore (Aquatic Ecologist and Outreach Specialist, Michigan State University, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife)
  • Blake Osborn (Regional Water Specialist, Colorado Water Institute; Colorado State University Extension)
  • Erika Pierson (Program Manager, Earth Force)
  • Kara Salazar (Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant; Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University Extension)
  • Grant Weinkam (Research Analyst, University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center)

Dr. Laura Cabrera expressed excitement at the caliber of applications this year and the diversity, professional experience, and professional reach of the 10 fellows selected.  “Water is such a critical issue, so we’re delighted to have representation from critical geographic regions, individuals who work with youth, adults, volunteers, businesses and not-for-profit organizations, those involved in direct and indirect service, with a number of them having received large grants to run complex projects related to a whole range of water issues.”

Fellows will learn a proven method for teaching the universal rules underlying systems thinking approaches and methods that is suitable for all ages and populations from Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera, faculty at Cornell University and founders of Cabrera Research Lab. While learning and applying systems thinking, the fellows will be participating in a research study to determine the utility of the relatively brief but intensive systems thinking training for education, extension, and outreach activities around complex water-related issues.

Fellows will develop and implement a comprehensive plan to integrate systems thinking into their water education, extension and outreach work in the geographic area they serve. The 2016-17 fellowship involves professionals from around the country, so much of the training, consultation, and interaction will occur online, with the exception of the annual, live-streaming systems thinking conference at Cornell University in early December. Fellows will make brief TED-style presentation on their strategies for implementing systems thinking in their ongoing water-related projects and discuss early insights about implementation in their geographic regions.

Dr. Derek Cabrera expressed enthusiasm at the opportunity to work with a new cohort of ThinkWater fellows. “Our involvement with last year’s cohort was incredibly rewarding. Not only did we advance the work of researchers with truly diverse interests and methods for approaching complex water problems, we provided a venue for these scholars–and other experts applying systems thinking–to present at a live-streaming event that attracted 700 participants from 31 states and 39 different countries.

About ThinkWater

ThinkWater is a national campaign supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and led by the University of Wisconsin-Extension and Cabrera Research Lab to help people of all backgrounds and ages think and care deeply about water. It does so by applying systems thinking to existing water education and research efforts and by actively engaging people in a new way around water issues. Our mission-vision is to Engage, Educate and Empower 7 billion systems thinkers to solve wicked water problems.

Media Inquiries:

Laura Cabrera, PhD
Director and Co-Principal Investigator

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