SEAL Research in Eastern Africa


Topo Lake Victoria, WikimediaA former professor at Western Kentucky University whom I greatly respect and who kindled my love for teaching, Dr. Chris Groves, once said that sometimes the best research opportunities and collaborations arise absolutely serendipitously. So did my initiation to working in East Africa with colleagues from University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). During the 2010 Global Land Project open science meeting in Phoenix, AZ, I had the honor of meeting the person who has since been a great mentor and friend, Dr. David Lopez-Carr. With his encouragement and support, I contributed to the 2012 United National Global Environmental Outlook report and then decided to take a professional leave of absence from my tenure-track assistant professor job at Southern Oregon University and go work on a visiting researchship with him at UCSB. What initially had been a 10-week appointment turned into a year-long appointment that opened doors and sparked my interest to work in eastern Africa. During my time at UCSB, I worked with Dr. Chris Funk and Dr. Greg Husak from the Climate Hazards Group/Famine Early Warning Systems Net on understanding the confluence of climate variability and changes, vegetation changes and livelihoods in the three main countries of the East African Horn region. We also worked on grants and published our collaborative work in the Global Environmental Change Journal, the Population and Environment Journal, and many peer-reviewed conference proceedings and others.

Since then, I have continued to pursue work in that region, currently specifically developing a collaborative effort with several institutions in the US, Europe and three eastern African countries to analyze current and future water availability and security in the Lake Victoria Basin. With support from a UNCW Cahill research award, I will be traveling to Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania in June 2014 to initiate these collaborations and collect preliminary data. I am currently looking for interested graduate students to work on the different components of this research project with me.