Thanks to the directive for more problem-oriented NSF projects and the need for better inter-disciplinary research on resource management, organizations like the University of Maryland's National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) are working to bring social and physical scientists together for team research into environmental problems.
I was fortunate enough in the Fall of 2014 to get approved for an 18-month Graduate Pursuit research grant along with a team of five other political science, engineering, environmental science and economics students. The project is examining the water-stress and institutional influences on "water management transitions" in three U.S. cities -- Los Angeles, Miami, and Las Vegas -- over a 20-year period. This is allowing us to bring modeling for hydrology and the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework together in a novel application of Elinor Ostrom's "Institutional Grammar" tool. The tool involves coding the rules, norms and shared strategies for water management which overlap and are nested in varied governance arrangements.
The project has already been eye-opening and challenging, and promises to lead to interesting insights regarding how these three water-challenged metropolitan areas have responded to increasing water stresses. The mission of SESYNC is to develop existing data into actionable policy recommendations, so one of our primary goals is to produce a policy briefing we hope to share at conferences and other water-management forums. We have already come up with some novel research strategies which promise to make for interesting journal articles by the time the project wraps up.
I would highly recommend taking advantage of SESYNC's resources, if anyone has the opportunity. The organization is top-notch. Here's a more in-depth description of our project: https://www.sesync.org/project/graduate-student-pursuit-rfp/water-miami-vegas-la
I work as an Assistant Professor at the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington. There, I direct the MGMT Lab.