Meet the Researcher, Holly Brause, Research Scientist, New Mexico State University
By Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator
This month for Meet the Researcher, we had the pleasure of featuring Holly Brause, who is a Research Scientist for the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) at New Mexico State University. She has been in her position since 2019, and states that she has three main roles at NM WRRI, which include 1) managing NM WRRI’s participation in the Transboundary Aquifer Assessment Program, 2) collaborating with NM WRRI faculty and staff on grant-funded interdisciplinary research projects, and 3) carrying out research and publishing efforts to meet WRRI initiatives. In 2018, Holly was a recipient of the Student Water Research Grant given from NM WRRI to fund part of her dissertation research entitled, The Everyday Politics of Irrigated Agriculture and an Uncertain Future, and it is here that she attributes the beginning of her working relationship with the Institute.
When asked about her work at NM WRRI, Holly believes that she brings a very different perspective to the Institute due to her training as a social scientist and anthropologist. The field of anthropology has a long history of working with communities, and is accustomed to thinking critically about the politics of representation and issues of power in collaboration. Through her research and communication practices, Brause feels she is able to bring this perspective to the forefront when networking and managing relationships with stakeholders and local communities.
Brause received her BA in Anthropology (2006) from Linfield College located in McMinnville, Oregon, and an MA in Latin American Studies (2011) from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. This month in May 2021, she earned her PhD in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her dissertation was entitled, Cultivating the Future: Globalized Competition and Environmental Interactions in the New Mexico Chile Industry, and she passed her defense with distinction in April 2021.
Currently, Holly is working on an ethnographic assessment of agricultural water use and water management in the New Mexico/Chihuahua borderlands. This research is inspired by the absence of formal policies that govern the use of shared groundwater resources through legal frameworks. She hopes to discover the existing social, political, cultural, and economic frameworks that shape the use of shared groundwater in practice at the U.S/Mexico border. As a result of the study, Brause aims to provide a detailed ethnographic analysis of water use practices and a qualitative analysis of the political, social, and economic motivating forces behind such practices. In conjunction with this work, Holly is collaborating with several other NM WRRI researchers to create a project that combines ethnographic research and qualitative interviews with modeling, hydrology, and GIS to examine potential future outcomes of water conservation techniques.
Brause has received several awards and fellowships throughout her educational experience, with her latest one being the Ruth E. Kennedy Award (2019) from the UNM Anthropology Department. She holds professional membership to seven associations, including The Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition, and the American Anthropological Association. Holly additionally served as the Graduate Student Liaison to Ethnology hiring Committee at UNM (2018), and was a part of the Anthropology Graduate Student Union Conference Coordination Committee (2017-2018). She has been an invited speaker at several summits and workshops, and has presented her work at over ten conferences and annual meetings.
In regards to future ambitions, Holly was pleased to inform us that she plans to continue her work as a Research Scientist Associate for NM WRRI, maintain her research projects, and grow both as an anthropologist and as an interdisciplinary researcher.