Skip Nav

Texas A&M Geography’s Wendy Jepson Named AAAS Leshner Fellow

The 15 fellows are leaders in food and water security research.

Feb 15, 2018

Dr. Wendy Jepson, professor in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University, has been named a 2018-19 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellow.

AAAS selected 15 researchers in the food and water security fields who have demonstrated leadership and excellence in their research careers and an interest in promoting meaningful dialogue between science and society. The water security work of the incoming AAAS Leshner Fellows draws from varied disciplines, including anthropology, civil engineering, biological and environmental sciences, geography, hydrology, political science and economics, plant genetics and horticulture.

“I’m thrilled to join a community of like-minded scientists committed not only to water security as a research focus, but to the creation of new and better ways to engage in dialogue with the public on one of the grand challenges of the 21st Century,” Jepson said.

Jepson, who was a 2017 U.S. Fulbright Fellow at the Federal University of Ceará, Brazil, leads the Texas A&M Water Security Initiative, a university-wide program. The initiative facilitates interdisciplinary research, education, service learning and collaboration on a broad spectrum of water security challenges, and it is part of the Texas A&M Institute for Sustainable Communities.

Her current long-term research projects, funded by the National Science Foundation, examine water insecurity in low-income communities in the U.S. and Latin America.

“The Leshner Leadership Institute experience will offer training and new ideas necessary to help me improve meaningful dialogue with constituencies interested in local, state and global water security challenges,” Jepson said. “In particular, I want to learn how to effectively work with policy makers in the science-policy space and better engage water professionals and practitioners to create strategic and novel pathways of public awareness to translate and extend the reach of research outcomes.”

“Scientists and scholars no longer can accept that research publication in a pay-wall protected academic journal is the only mechanism to communicate our research. We need better and more effective models of communication and engagement. And that is what I will learn and bring back to Texas A&M, the Institute for Sustainable Communities, and the College of Geosciences.”

Jepson also co-leads a global study and an emerging international, cross-disciplinary network of scholars who study household water insecurity (HWISE Network). She received her Ph.D. in geography from the University of California, Los Angeles.

“I am truly inspired by Dr. Jepson’s leadership in assembling the interdisciplinary team that seeks to address multiple facets of the water security challenge,” said Dr. Debbie Thomas, interim dean of the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M. “Those hit hardest need her scholarship, but equally importantly, her voice – and the intensive training through the Leshner Leadership Institute will round out Dr. Jepson’s skill-set to intensify the impact of her scholarship through high-impact public engagement. The result literally will make the world a better place.”

The AAAS Leshner Fellows program, now in its third year, builds on the long-standing commitment of AAAS to science communication and public engagement. The AAAS Leshner Fellows will meet in June 2018 at AAAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. for a week of intensive public engagement and science communication training, networking and public engagement plan development.

Throughout the year following the training, AAAS Leshner Fellows will develop and implement public engagement activities, train other scientists in their communities and work to increase capacity for public engagement at their institutions. AAAS staff will provide ongoing support and continuing professional development throughout their fellowship year.

The Leshner Leadership Institute was established in 2015 through philanthropic support. The Institute is managed by the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology, established in 2004 by Alan I. Leshner, now chief executive officer emeritus of AAAS.

Published in cooperation with AAAS.

Geosciences TAMU Logo

Aggies can change the world. Geoscientists lead the way.