Alison Elder

Ph.D. Student

Graduate Research Assistant

A PhD student and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the School of Geography and Development, my research interests include land and water rights in arid and semi-arid lands, groundwater management and transboundary waters, irrigation agriculture, green infrastructure, gender, health, and development studies.

Before joining the School of Geography and Development in 2017, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in southeastern Morocco from 2014-2016 working on health and fitness education and life skills for women and youth and collaborated with community members in starting a cultural exchange and volunteer abroad program for students in rural Morocco.  From 2016-2017, I worked at the Hillary Clinton Center for Women’s Empowerment (HCC) at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco with the Women’s Engagement Network (WEN) providing assistance with and exploring the difficulties rural women face in formalizing cooperatives.  Additionally I helped organize and present at the HCC’s international symposium on youth, migration, and development.  I am currently a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow.

This experience in Morocco inspired my M.A. thesis topic examining the effects of irrigation on water supply and economic opportunity in southeastern Morocco.  I received funding from the American Institute for Maghrib Studies, the UA Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the UA Graduate & Professional Student Council, and the UA Social & Behavioral Sciences Research Institute to return to Morocco for fieldwork in summer 2018.  Through interviews with farm owners and managers, community members, farm workers, government and NGO leaders, and government offices, I examined the effects of national development plans on rural livelihoods and water resources.

Additionally, I am a graduate research assistant working with Dr. Andrea K. Gerlak on a National Science Foundation-funded Coupled Human and Natural (CNH) systems project examining green infrastructure and sustainable urban water solutions for Arizona cities, including issues of learning, policy change, and equity.  As part of the project, we conducted a case study of Tucson, examining the genesis, adoption, and implementation of green infrastructure through stakeholder meetings and interviews with city and county officials and staff, utilities managers, neighborhood associations, NGO leaders, and activists.  We are now beginning a comparative case study of green infrastructure in the city of Phoenix.