December 2021 eNews

Transboundary Groundwater Resiliency Research Network Holds First Virtual Kickoff Event

Transboundary Groundwater Resiliency Research Network Holds First Virtual Kickoff Event

By Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

On November 16, 2021, the Transboundary Groundwater Resiliency Research (TGRR) network (funded by the National Science Foundation’s AccelNet program) launched its first virtual kickoff event on Zoom to more than 70 interested participants. This hour-long meeting offered just one of several opportunities to provide input on the challenges and needs for more effective transboundary groundwater research and management. In collaboration with the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute aspires to create a new, international network of networks that connects hydrology, social science, data science, and systems science networks to establish a novel TGRR approach.

The meeting began with Sam Fernald, Director of the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute and Principal Investigator (PI) on the project, and Ashley Atkins, one of the project’s Co-PIs and the Executive Director of the West Big Data Innovation Hub, welcoming everyone to the meeting with opening remarks. Atkins set the stage by explaining that the network was “rooted in the idea that harnessing advances in data science and system science can help build on and work with existing transboundary water networks to help answer critical questions in ways that haven’t been previously possible, and in ways that can meet the diverse needs and priorities of stakeholders to create a more resilient transboundary groundwater future.”

Fernald spoke on the overall goals of the research and provided background on the TGRR network’s efforts. He explained there is a situation with water scarcity in the Mesilla Basin/Conejos Médanos aquifer system and the Hueco Bolson due to climate change and drought. The aquifers’ location on the U.S.-Mexico border creates international challenges but also unique opportunities for collaboration. Fernald stated that the proposed TGRR approach seeks to “understand why this depletion occurs and offer some solutions with this understanding of the complex interconnected systems.”

Fellow Co-PI, Christine Kirkpatrick, who oversees the San Diego Supercomputer Center’s (SDSC) Research Data Services Division, began her presentation with a collaborative activity for all participants using an interactive digital whiteboard. The focus of this activity was to create a stakeholder map documenting groups or organizations who would be interested in the project and cataloging important issues. Kirkpatrick described the purpose of this task as being able to identify who are the stakeholders so goals and priorities of the network can be anchored in what matters to the community and become useful to the people who need this research the most. On January 21, 2022, from 9:00-10:00 AM MT, TGRR will host an interactive and virtual follow-up meeting to gain more input from the community and further prioritize the topics recorded on the Jamboard during the Kickoff. Click here to register for the TGRR Community Jamboard Workshop.

Ilya Zaslavsky, Co-PI and Director of the SDSC Spatial Information Systems Laboratory, gave his presentation on an elaborate survey developed to help manage network outreach and response. A goal of this survey was to give individuals a chance to share their different perspectives and expertise with one another in hopes of creating new research collaborations and finding project development partners. For those interested, please click here to participate in this informative opportunity.

Fernald gave closing remarks to remind the audience this was the first event hosted by the TGRR, and there is a real opportunity for the community to help strengthen this network to meet the objectives of stakeholders and become a robust network of networks to better understand the challenges and needs of conserving transboundary groundwater resources.

To view the YouTube recording of this meeting and all presentations given at this event, please click here. For additional TGRR events, please join us starting January 28, 2022, from 10:00-11:00 AM MT, for the beginning of our virtual Collective Learning Meetings (CLM) featuring researchers who will be sharing their upcoming water-related research. CLMs are for graduate students and early-career researchers to obtain collegial and non-evaluative feedback on their unfinished or exploratory research projects. These meetings are in collaboration with the Worchester Polytechnic Institute, and will be held bi-monthly through Zoom, and will cover systems approaches to water resiliency research. For more information on CLMs, click here. If you are interested in presenting, please fill out this form, and indicate in the presentation description that you are a TGRR member.