Congratulations to the 2020 Voices of the Future Awardees!

The CUAHSI Voices of the Future award is an essay contest targeting undergraduate and graduate students in the water sciences. The goal of this award is to share the perspectives of the next generation of water science professionals on future directions of our field. The prompt asks students to compose a fact-based opinion paper that addresses one of the following: 1) new science that is needed to address local to global water issues, 2) processes for moving from water science to impactful water policy, 4) Any related topic that provides a vision for the future of water science and/or the water resources community. Submissions discussed a large range of factors and concerns that impact water science and water availability including emerging technologies, a changing environment, and social and economic factors. 

The review process was double-blind, and submissions were reviewed by CUAHSI Member representatives and selected members of the CUAHSI community. 

We are please to announce the two winners of the 2020 Voices of the Future Award!

Morgan DiCarlo, is pursuing her PhD at North Carolina State University. The title of their proposal was: Envisiong a Future of Water-Human Networks: Digital solutions to link water management and human behavior." DiCarlo writes of the challenges of addressing water resource availability in a changing climate and presents a data-driven demand-side framework for water demand and management that leverages the growing presence of big, social data. One reviewer notes that this essay was "written with tremendous clarity and with deep knowledge of contemporary water resources with a keen eye on novel solutions." In their conclusion, they write: "The time is now for the water resources community to incorporate data from information communication technologies into their practices. Strengthened by the integration of human behavioral data, demand-side management can emerge as the primary approach for water planning in a future where supply is increasingly limited. Envisioning human-water systems, where water management approaches fully utilize social data is essential to prepare for future demands under changing economic and climate conditions." Read the entire essay here


Madison Coleman is an undergraduate student at Columbus State University. In their paper, the Relationship Between Socioeconomic Status and Access to High-Quality Water Resources, they describe the environmental injustices related to water access faced by marginalized socio-economic groups in terms of water quality and water availability and cost. To achieve justice, the author suggests that a combination of frank, open discussion and analysis of these environmental inequities, and a thoughtful and transparent revision of water quality legislation. One reviewer wrote of Coleman's submission: "This essay effectively complicates the idea of water as a universal right by highlighting structural inequities in access to clean, affordable water in the US. The author effectively uses evidence of the widespread incidence of water injustices and helps to show the ways these injustices are compounded. Additionally, the essay's closing argument to take a hard look at these issues in order to begin solving them is an effective moral appeal. The concerns raised in this paper could serve as a good starting point for the hydrologic sciences to explore the role of the scientific community in addressing environmental injustice and advocating for policy reform. To me, this vision toward environmental justice, supported by a strong argument, makes this essay the strongest of the bunch." Coleman suggests the following solutions: "The first and foremost step towards  justice, as discussed in this paper, is to have an honest conversation simply admitting at the presence of environmental inequality faced by society. Secondly, the factors and reasoning behind the infringement of water quality rights must be addressed and analyzed. This situation can only be remedied by a complete revision of previous water quality legislation, in which marginalized communities are given a chance for their experiences to be heard. Increasing transparency and communication between those facing oppression and those inflicting oppression is key to enacting positive change." Read the entire paper here