Cyndi Vail-Castro, P.E.
Postdoctoral Fellow | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
My research examines the role of water in coupled human-environmental systems. I study the consequences of climate and social stressors through a mixed-methods approach, including geographic information systems, socio-hydrology, hydrological modeling, and stakeholder engagement. By approaching watersheds through the lens of complexity, I investigate emergent phenomena among social equity, environmental justice, climate resiliency, and natural disaster mitigation.
With 10 years' experience in hydrological engineering and municipal governance, I have become convinced that our challenge is not purely qualitative nor quantitative. Rather, there exists a unique connection between human behavior and the water cycle which we must explore across scales. My research exists at this interface by focusing on science-based decision-making for critical water challenges.
I believe there is a unique opportunity to resolve water challenges by bridging the gap between science and policy. We are living in a unique time, where climate change is no longer 'on the horizon' but rather a current threat to civilization and the environment. As such, we necessitate understanding how communities plan for water-related extremes to achieve health and justice. We must do so in partnership with decision-makers to genuinely impact governance and equitable outcomes for generations to follow.