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Tashev discusses the Water for the Seasons project with a colleague at the NSF meeting.

Environmental Studies grad student collaborates with water researchers at national NSF meeting

M.C. Tilton
July 28, 2016

Networking with internationally renowned researchers and engaging in cutting-edge water modeling were just part of the agenda for Azamat Tashev, Masters of Science in Environmental Studies graduate student, and Derek Kauneckis, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs Assistant Professor, at the Principal Investigator’s meeting for the National Science Foundation’s Water, Climate and Society proposals in Washington, D.C. 

Tashev is working with Kauneckis as his advisor at the Voinovich School on the Water for the Seasons project.  The project is a $3.8 million collaboration between the Voinovich School, University of Nevada-Reno, the Desert Research Institute and United States Geological Service that integrates hydrological models with human decision making to better understand climate resilience in western watersheds.  

Tashev has been developing a thesis proposal which focuses on Water for the Seasons as a case study. “Through meeting with the project team at the Principle Investigator’s meeting, I was able to better understand the project, receive useful inputs and discuss potential use of my research results by the project team,” Tashev said.

The Principle Investigator’s meeting centered on the Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC) Program, a federal initiative created to improve the understanding of human impact on climate change. Through three sets of grant awards, the latest totaling $25 million, more than 40 projects have been implemented within the WSC framework. The goal of the projects is to understand and predict the interactions of earth's water system with climate change, land use, and ecosystem services through place-based research and integrative models. The Water for the Seasons projects aligns with the WSC mission.

Tashev said his immersion in similar projects from across the nation greatly impacted his perspective on integrative water research. “While I learned about the complex research activities of other projects, I was challenged to process and comprehend a huge diversity of information at the workshop,” Tashev said. “It was a sobering experience that motivated me to study smarter and be prepared to work effectively in such interdisciplinary environment.”

About 30 presentations were made by project teams from across the country on the latest research findings. Each presentation was followed by engaging discussions of practical issues and ideas among experts from such disciplines as hydrology, geology, climatology, plant biology, sociology, economy, financial management and policy analysis. Poster sessions also allowed young researchers to demonstrate their own findings and network with peers.

“These activities forced us to apply systems-based thinking, learn perspectives of other disciplines on research problems, and get critical feedback about further improvements in our projects,” Tashev said.

Tashev’s unique perspective as a citizen of Uzbekistan’s centralized government has made him particularly interested in the United States government’s more decentralized approach toward environmental research and development.

“The channels of coordination and funding are so diverse, which increases the likelihood of identifying innovative ideas and developing effective solutions to complex problems like climate change,” Tashev said. “Through my participation at the PI workshop, I was able to see a practical example of how US government creates favorable conditions for linking scientists to policy makers and promoting science, technology and innovation, and I am excited to integrate what I learned at the meeting into my thesis work.”