Simone A. Williams Wins Prestigious Babbitt Dissertation Fellowship
We congratulate Simone A. Williams, Graduate Research Associate at the WRRC and a PhD Candidate in the Arid Lands Resource Sciences GIDP, who has been awarded a Babbitt Dissertation Fellowship to support her dissertation research! This competitive and prestigious fellowship is granted by The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, to support US university students whose dissertation research shows strong potential to support the integration of land and water policies, contributes to advancing water sustainability and resilience, and has significant public impact, especially in western states. The fellowship is administered through the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy. Simone’s dissertation research focuses on enhancing groundwater vulnerability and contamination risks in Arizona using interdisciplinary methods and models to understand differential impact and outcomes of groundwater and land use policies.
Simone has worked on water research with her advisor and WRRC Director, Dr. Sharon B. Megdal, since joining the ALRS PhD program 2.5 years ago. As part of a regional southwest sustainable groundwater and irrigated agriculture project, her current work at the WRRC involves developing a spatiotemporal, hydrological model (in collaboration with researchers at the University of California, Davis) to simulate the impact of irrigated agriculture on groundwater. It will provide decision support knowledge and tools for water users and decision-makers in Arizona and similar areas. She is leveraging this work in her dissertation research to conduct an in-depth examination of the impact of irrigated agricultural land use on groundwater vulnerability and contamination risk in the Pinal groundwater basin. Her model will examine how key groundwater quality and quantity processes (e.g., aquifer recharge, nutrient loading, and evapotranspiration) respond to changes in agricultural land use and related management practices. By applying innovative hybrid models to simulate and conduct scenario analysis, her research will provide new knowledge and decision support tools to better understand the impact of unprecedented, long-term drought, urbanization pressures, and related changes in agricultural land management practices on groundwater quality and quantity.