Principal Investigators

Dr. Wendy Jepson holds a University Professorship in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University where she has been on faculty since receiving her Ph.D. in Geography from UCLA in 2003. Since 2016, Dr. Jepson has been a Visiting Professor at the Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza (Brazil). Her research addresses contemporary debates in political ecology, human-environment interactions, and water security and governance. Dr. Jepson leads several research projects and institutional initiatives on water security.

Dr. Jepson was a recent Fulbright Scholar (2016-2017) and AAAS Leshner Fellow for Public Engagement (2018-2019). She also is a recipient of several National Science Foundation grants that focus on water security – examining different aspects of water insecurity in south Texas colonias and urban Brazil. Dr. Jepson leads the NSF-funded Household Water Insecurity Experiences – Research Coordination Network (HWISE-RCN), an international community of scholars and practitioners dedicated to advance research and work in the interdisciplinary field of water insecurity. Dr. Jepson also is the principal investigator for a $1.5M Texas A&M University Presidential Excellence Grant, “Pathways to Sustainable Urban Water Security: Desalination and Water Reuse.” She has generated over $3 million in grants and awards as lead PI from NSF, private sources, and internal awards to support her research agenda.

Dr. Christian Brannstrom is a Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Geosciences. His research focuses on social and political aspects of renewable energy and unconventional fossil fuels in Texas. He also studies geographical dimensions of wind-power expansion in Brazil, where he has partnered with geographers at the Universidade Federal do Ceará. He regularly hosts visiting scholars interested in theoretical and empirical dimensions of environmental governance. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, Texas Sea Grant, and the TAMU Glasscock Center for Humanities Research, and Brazilian funding agencies.

Professor Gabriel Eckstein is Professor of Law at Texas A&M University where he focuses on water, natural resources, and environmental law and policy issues at the local, national, and international levels. Most recently, he examined groundwater governance issues on the Mexico-US border, and led a UN FAO-funded project that compiled and synthesized water law profiles for 35 countries and 3 international river basins for the UNFAO’s online WATERLEX database.

In addition to the law faculty, Professor Eckstein also serves as: Associated Professor with the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Public Service and Administration Department; Research Fellow with the Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy at The Bush School of Government and Public Service; Graduate Faculty Member for the Texas A&M Water Management & Hydrological Science program; and Affiliated Faculty with the Texas A&M Energy Institute. In addition, he currently serves as President of the International Water Resources Association, on the Executive Council of the International Association for Water Law, as Associate Editor for Brill Research Perspectives: International Water Law, and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Water Law. Over many years, he has served as an expert advisor and consultant for various UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other groups on US and international water and environmental issues. Along with his Juris Doctor degree, Professor Eckstein holds an LL.M. in International Environmental Law, an M.S. in International Affairs, and a B.A. in Geology.

Dr. Robert Greer, Assistant Professor of public budgeting and finance in the Bush School of Government and Public Service, is an expert in state and local financial management and has published in the areas of debt management, municipal security markets, and water infrastructure financing. His recent publications focus on issues of governance structure and their relationship to infrastructure finance and debt management. Current projects continue this work by considering complex networks of special districts and the connection between their fiscal capacity and performance. His work has been published in Public Administration Review, Policy Studies Journal, Public Budgeting & Finance, Municipal Finance Journal, Urban Studies, Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, and Public Finance Review. Greer earned both his MPP and PhD from the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration, University of Kentucky, and has a BA in economics and business administration from Trinity University and an MPA from University of North Texas. He was the recipient of the 2012 Emerging Scholar Award from the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) and was also awarded the Hatton W. Sumner Scholar Award.

Dr. Mark Holtzapple, has been a professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M University for 33 years. He focuses on developing sustainable technologies, including conversion of waste biomass to fuels and chemicals; high-efficiency compressors, expanders, and engines; and water desalination. His vapor-compression desalination technology is as efficient as reverse osmosis, but is more robust. This “zero-discharge” technology produces concentrated brine usable as a source of minerals, such as magnesium and potassium. Dr. Holtzapple has received numerous awards for his research, including the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award offered by the president and vice-president of the United States.

In Memoriam

Dr. Kent Portney, is the Director for the TAMU Institute for Science, Technology, and Public Policy and has long experience as a thought leader in the area of urban sustainability. Recently he has advanced work on the Texas A&M water-food-energy nexus collaboration leading the water governance node for the San Antonio case study. Dr. Portney came to the Bush School’s Department of Public Service and Administration in 2014. He was appointed director of the Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy in September 2016 after serving two years as a Senior Fellow in the Institute. In 2018 he was named the Bob Bullock Chair in Government and Public Policy. He was on the Tufts University faculty since 1979 and served as department chair in political science and directed the Graduate Program in Public Policy and Citizen Participation. Most recently, he was director of the Water and Research Program at the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Florida State University, his master’s from the University of Connecticut, and his bachelor’s from Rutgers University, where his studies focused on public administration and public policy.

Dr. John Tracy is the Director of the Texas Water Resources Institute, has extensive experience working at the interface between water resources research, practice and policy over the past 20 years. As Director, Tracy works to connect Texas A&M University faculty and staff with a wide range of local, state, federal and private entities, to develop and move forward initiatives that address pressing water resources issues facing Texas, the region and the nation.

Dr. Tracy is also a professor of water resources in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering in the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. He joined Texas A&M in the fall of 2015 and has been involved in a wide range of research initiatives focused on understanding and developing sustainable water resource management practices across the western United States, including the western High Plains, Northern Plains, Great Basin and Pacific Northwest hydro-climatological regions. Before becoming a part of TWRI, Dr. Tracy received his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering at Colorado State University in 1980, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering at the University of California at Davis in 1986 and 1989, respectively. He started his academic career at Kansas State University in the Department of Civil Engineering in 1989, where his research focused on modeling phytoremediation processes, and developing models to aid in the conjunctive administration of surface and groundwater rights.

Dr. Sierra Woodruff is an assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning. Her research focuses on how planning can better address environmental and climatic change. She currently has several NSF-funded projects to examine the relationship between social networks, plan coordination, and urban resilience to flooding. She also is leading a project to quantify and compare the policies cities across the U.S. have adopted to build resilience.