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School of Sustainability News DCDC News Alumni and Student Spotlights

September 21, 2018

Woman with curled red hair smilingVeronica Horvath, an Arizona State University Master of Science in sustainability student and Decision Center for a Desert City research assistant, is a first place awardee of the 2018 Central Arizona Project Award for outstanding water research. This is the first time a DCDC research assistant has won this award. Horvath presented her work at the Arizona Hydrological Society's annual symposium on September 21 alongside several ASU sustainability scientists who research water.

“As an aspiring water scholar, I feel extremely grateful to receive this award for water research, especially because the Central Arizona Project and Arizona Hydrological Society are significant players involved with addressing Arizona's water future beyond academia,” Horvath said. “It is an honor to share this work with Arizona's dedicated practitioners, policy makers and water managers, and is a true representation of how ASU, DCDC, and the School of Sustainability foster use-inspired research.”

Horvath answered a few questions for us about her research and experience at ASU.

Question: What does your research focus on (especially relating to this award)?

Answer: My work is related to sustainability, addressing the recently proposed Salt River redevelopments, or "Rio Reimagined." As a researcher, I am curious to understand how cities address freshwater resources, long-term planning for sustainability and water governance. Following the emerging discourse of the Rio project(s) while using sustainability principles and social movement literature has motivated my work. The final product of this study will be my master’s degree thesis, which leverages news media and stakeholder interviews as data sources for a qualitative content analysis of sustainability discourse surrounding Rio Reimagined.

Q: How has the School of Sustainability and DCDC informed or inspired your work?

A: The School of Sustainability inspired the beginning of this work through participation in a one-credit seminar last fall on urban design and sustainability with the Design School and Professor Chingwen Cheng. The seminar also touched on the history of the Design School in the success of Tempe Town Lake. If it wasn't for the School of Sustainability's encouragement for cross-listing and collaborative interdisciplinarity, I would not have known about the Rio Reimagined developments and become so interested in leveraging it as a case study.

Working with my advisor, Dr. Dave White, has greatly inspired this work. Through his leadership at DCDC, his expert scholarship in water management and community development, and his fieldwork course in the School of Community Resources and Development, I have been encouraged and inspired to pursue rigorous socio-hydrological research that can enrich the community and bring theories into practice. Working at DCDC has empowered me greatly as an aspiring water scholar, through its vast academic and community connections and more than a decade of rigorous water research that focuses on Phoenix and Arizona. The mentorship of other graduate students, research scientists and affiliated scholars has also been extremely helpful as I progress in this research journey.

Furthermore, work with my committee members Dr. Mikhail Chester, Dr. Dan Childers and Dr. Naho Mirumachi has informed this study, and their expertise has provided unique insights into urban resilience and infrastructure, urban ecology and transboundary water management. Additionally, much of the academic work leveraged in the study has emerged from ASU sustainability scholars, including Dr. Kelli Larson, Dr. Arnim Wiek, and Dr. David Iwaniec.

I believe both the School of Sustainability's dedication to diverse and robust expertise and ASU's culture of collaboration has allowed me to tap into such an amazing master’s committee within and beyond the university.