Water Policy Scholars

The Water Policy Scholars program brings policy researchers across the UW System together with freshwater scientists to frame policy questions and adapt tools to address water resource issues. The program is intended to increase the Center for Water Policy’s capacity to develop interdisciplinary and sustainable solutions to freshwater problems. 

We open an annual Request for Proposals from faculty and determine awards within a month.


Current Scholars

Margaret A. Noodin
2019-2020 Policy Scholar
Professor, UWM English & American Studies
Director, Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education

Watch our World Water Day 2021 Celebration event featuring Dr. Noodin’s work as a Water Policy Scholar, March 17, 2021.

As the 2019-2020 Water Policy Scholar, Professor Noodin led the Mapping Indigenous Connections project, which provides a visual guide to the many Native American nations that are part of the Anishinaabe Confederacy. The Mapping project focuses on more than 140 Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi nations. Linked by the Anishinaabemowin language, these communities are located around the western Great Lakes.  Noodin is interested in finding an approach that integrates the Nations’ valuable perspective around ecosystem resilience in the Basin in the face of economic and climates shifts. Her work helps raise not only a deeper understanding of the Nations, but also could inform important policy issues. 

Margaret Noodin received an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in English and Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. She is currently a Professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she also serves as the Director of the Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education. She is the author of Bawaajimo: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature and Weweni, a collection of bilingual poems in Ojibwe and English. Her recent publications focus on indigenous science and philosophy including: “Gikinomaagemin Gichigaming: Teaching Anishinaabemowin and Ecology in the Great Lakes” and “Surviving the Sixth Extinction: American Indian Strategies for Life in the New World.” She is Co-editor of The Papers of the Algonquian Conference and is an advocate for education and community engagement through relevant research and teaching. In Milwaukee she works with the First Nations Program in the Milwaukee Public Schools, the Milwaukee Water Commons and the Indian Community School. For a complete list of recent publications visit www.uwm.edu/english/our-people/noodin-margaret/. To see and hear current projects visit www.ojibwe.net where she and other students and speakers of Ojibwe have created a space for language to be shared by academics and the native community.


Past Scholars

Ryan Holifield
2017 Water Policy Scholar

Associate Professor, UWM Geography

Ryan Holifield is an associate professor in the UWM Department of Geography and Urban Studies Programs. His research focuses on issues of environmental justice and democratic participation in environmental policy and governance, especially in urban contexts. One current collaborative project investigates geographic dimensions of stakeholder participation in remedial action plans at Great Lakes Areas of Concern: toxic hotspots of contamination and environmental degradation.

The objectives of his participation in the Water Policy Scholars program are both to complete the collaborative project on participation in Great Lakes Areas of Concern and to develop new potential collaborations that could build on this research, take it into new directions, and expand its scope. He is in the process of planning a symposium at the Center focused on issues of participation and justice in Great Lakes and freshwater governance.


James Wasley
2017 Water Policy Scholar
Professor, UWM Architecture

James Wasley is a Professor in the UWM Architecture Department and is the current Director of the Institute for Ecological Design. His research focuses on designing and implementing ecological urban waterscapes.

As a Policy Scholar, Wasley facilitated a design workshop entitled Innovative Practice/Innovative Policy: Setting an Agenda for Advancing Integrative Green Infrastructure in the Great Lakes Basin that drew several nationally-renowned design professionals to Milwaukee in April 2017. Wasley also used his time as a Policy Scholar to develop funding proposals for green infrastructure projects with several Freshwater Sciences collaborators.


Scott Graham
2016 Water Policy Scholar
Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin

S. Scott Graham is currently an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He researches how scientific experts and public stakeholders communicate about matters of risk and uncertainty as part of science-policy deliberation. His current projects involve investigating the influence of public advocacy groups on regulatory decision-making and analyzing the FDA’s environmental review of the most popular pharmaceuticals products.

As a Policy Scholar, Dr. Graham focused on building the Public Engagement and Science Communication (PESC) lab, which seeks to provide an interdisciplinary approach to science communication research, communications education, and stakeholder outreach, with particular attention to water science and policy.


Paul Roebber
2016 Water Policy Scholar

Distinguished Professor, UWM Mathematics

Paul Roebber is a Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences in the UWM Mathematics Department and director of the non-profit Innovative Weather program. He is currently doing research on flash flooding, Great Lakes temperatures and water levels, and application of adaptive learning techniques to forecasting thunderstorms.

Through the Policy Scholars program, Dr. Roebber developed a statistical model that provides insight into the variability of water levels in Lakes Michigan and Superior in the coming decades. This information can help decision makers develop climate-resilient policy regarding coastal development and erosion, energy production, water treatment, and many other social and economic factors linked to fluctuating lake levels.