Research - Socio-Environmental Analysis Lab (SEAL)

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My research philosophy revolves around problem-solving, relevance, and collaboration. The overarching question of my current research is centered around means of effectively identifying causal factors in observed socio-ecological land use and land cover patterns of change and their link with human health and food security outcomes in the context of accelerating climate change especially in semi-arid environments. My short-term research agenda has two main components: I am working collaboratively on mapping hotspots of population vulnerability to climate change and food insecurity monitoring in the East African Horn region with colleagues from UC Santa Barbara and the USAID Famine Early Warning System Network, while also continuing to expand on my dissertation research in southern Africa. I am also working on water scarcity issues and currently collaborating with colleagues from various institutions in the US and abroad on a project aimed at analyzing long-term changes in water availability in East African drylands as a function of increasing climate variability and population changes.

For my PhD work at University of Florida, I worked on an interdisciplinary research project in a semi-arid transboundary basin in the larger Zambezi Basin in Southern Africa, focused on understanding the relative importance of spatial and temporal changes in flooding and fire regimes in driving landscape and vegetation dynamics and how they affect the resilience of the human systems in the region. In effect, my rather ambitious, National Science Foundation-funded dissertation project, aimed at probing means to disentangle the influence of natural variability (in the form of precipitation, runoff and fire variability and seasonality) from land management decisions in the context of differentially-managed land units. This is a rather daunting task given the inherent complexity and inter-related human-natural dynamics in the semi-arid savannas of southern Africa and work that truly requires the establishment of collaborative research networks to fully address the issues at hand. Since completing my PhD, I have published papers in the Journal of Environmental Management , Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Assessment , Global Environmental Change, Population and Environment, and others.

Currently, I am working on a multi-instituion collaborative effort in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia where we aim to facilitate a broader understanding of how livelihoods, land use and its history, and the environment are changing in this region. To accomplish this, funded by a U.S. National Science Foundation grant (#1560700), we are collaborating with partner organizations and team members from the U.S., Botswana, Zambia, and Namibia. The main goal of this project will be to determine leverage points in a conceptual framework that might mitigate how land-use decisions and land-cover change affect vulnerability in the face of uncertainty. Our project is called Land Systems Dynamics of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area.

For more information about this project and our progress, please visit the project website at: http://kazava.weebly.com/  or check out this video summary of our 2017 Namibia and Botswana field season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_euSt-RveCU

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