Student Spotlight: Kelly Mott Lacroix

Back to Spring 2012 newsletter

Kelly Mott Lacroix is a second year PhD student in Arid Lands Resource Sciences. She has a BA in Political Science and Spanish from Beloit College in Wisconsin, where she was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a Morris K. Udall Scholar. After completing her undergraduate studies she worked in Washington, D.C. as a research associate for the Environmental Law Institute and then returned home to Arizona to work as a constituent liaison for the Arizona State Senate. In 2004 she moved to Tucson to pursue a MS in Environment and Healthy Cities Planning from the University of Arizona. During her master’s degree she worked for Dr. Megdal on one of the first projects in the WRRC’s water for the environment program; a study examining environmental restoration projects across Arizona. During her first stint at the WRRC she also assisted Dr. Megdal with a report on water resource availability for the Tucson metropolitan area.

She received her MS in 2006 and worked for the next five years as a water resources specialist for the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) in Tucson. At ADWR she helped produce the Arizona Water Atlas and later became the manager for the Community Water System program. When she left ADWR last July, she was working on a methodology to assess the vulnerability of Arizona’s groundwater basins based on Water Atlas data and input from stakeholders across the state. She presented this methodology at the International Water Resources Association 14th World Water Congress in Porto de Galhinas, Brazil last September.

Last August, after having her second child in July, she returned to the WRRC as a graduate research associate to work on the Connecting the Environment to Arizona Water Planning (EnWaP) project. Kelly works on all aspects of the project, from creating GIS maps and analyzing environmental water needs data to working with water managers and other stakeholders across the state to help build consensus on how to incorporate water needs of the environment into water planning. As a third generation Arizonan who has traveled and lived in both urban and ruralArizona, Kelly particularly enjoys the EnWaP project for the opportunity it provides her to meet other people and gain their perspective on our water resources and the future of our state.

Kelly enjoys working at the intersection of hydrology and water policy and has a passion for taking complex scientific data, simplifying it and exploring how it can be used to better plan for our water resources. Last fall she received a Central Arizona Project Award for Water Research for her paper examining how adaptive management theory, which was first used to understand ecosystem cycles, can help us improve water management in Arizona. Over the next year, as part of her dissertation research, she hopes to both synthesize the information the WRRC assembled on environmental water needs and use it to build a model to better understand and plan for the many unstudied streams in Arizona. Kelly intends to finish her PhD in Spring 2014