PhD Research - Sara Hughes

Sara Hughes's research focuses on urban governance and the role institutions play in determining water supply and sanitation policy and planning outcomes in cities. She is currently using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate these dynamics in coastal California cities, and will be expanding the framework to include national and international urban areas. She also has a strong general interest in applying social-science methods and frameworks to interdisciplinary environmental problems. This interest has led to her involvement in the Luce Fellows “Environmental Science to Solutions” program, through which she is part of a team studying the impact of declining coral reef fisheries on food security. She is also a research assistant with the WATERS Network project, an NSF-funded research program that is breaking new ground in incorporating social science in water management.

Employment Upon Graduation: Postdoctoral Fellow, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)


Braden, John B., Daniel G. Brown, Jeffrey Dozier, Patricia Gober, Sara Hughes, David R. Maidment, Sandra L. Schneider, P. Wesley Schultz, James S. Shortle, Stephen K. Swallow, and Carol M. Werner. Accepted July 2009. Social Science in a Water Observing System. Water Resources Research.

Hughes, Sara and Jennifer McKay. In press. “Achieving sustainable water transitions in Australia.” In Huitema and Meijerink, eds. Water Transitions. Edward Elgar Press.

Hughes, Sara and Lena Partszch. In press. “Greening the Streams: US and EU Water Foreign Policy” In Paul Harris, ed. Environmental Foreign Policy.

Hughes, Sara M., Lena Partszch, and Joanne Gaskell. 2007. “Virtual Water: A critical link for integrating global water, energy and development Goals.” Sustainable Development Law and Policy Volume VII, Issue 3, pp. 58-62.


Current Projects

Urban Governance and Adaptation to Modern Challenges: Evaluating Urban Water Services.

Adaptive Capacity of Human Populations to Coral Reef Fisheries Dynamics.

Living in the Water Environment: The WATERS Network Plan.


Research Fellowships

UCSB Dean’s Fellowship Award 2009-2010 (for dissertation work on urban governance)

Luce Foundation “Science to Solutions” Doctoral Student Fellowship, January 2008-December 2010 (for Adaptive Capacity project)

CALFED Science Fellows Award, January 2008-December 2010 (for dissertation work on urban governance)

Fulbright Postgraduate Research Award, University of South Australia, Centre for Comparative Water Policies and Laws, April 2007-March 2008 (resulted in the publication with Jennifer McKay)


Links of Interest

Earth System Governance Project

UN Habitat and Urban Governance

California Urban Water Conservation Council

Lake Michigan