STEM Shoutout: Dr. Caroline Scruggs

Community and regional planning professor chosen as a 2021 Women in STEM Award winner


Dr. Caroline Scruggs, an associate professor in Community and Regional Planning at UNM, was selected in June as a recipient of the Women in STEM Awards at UNM.


Scruggs will work with professors from several departments on the project “Perspectives on Innovative Approaches in Agriculture to Managing Water Scarcity.” 


The collaborative research considers new efforts that could help address water shortages, including innovative and evolving water practices in agriculture. Currently, many solutions to water shortages around the world focus on recycling and efficiency in municipal supplies. 


The co-PIs are Dr. Melinda Morgan, an associate professor in Geography and Environmental Studies; Dr. Jingjing Wang, an assistant professor in Economics, Dr. Alex Webster; a research professor in Biology.


Scruggs said she’s excited to work as a team with people from a variety of disciplines.


“The Women in STEM call for proposals was the catalyst that brought my co-PIs and me together for this research project and I’m grateful for the opportunity. This is our first collaboration, and I’m really excited to work with this interdisciplinary team,” she said. 


“I’ve already learned a lot from each of them while putting the proposal together. We plan to leverage additional funding for the project, and I think the results will be impactful in helping New Mexico think creatively about water scarcity solutions. Also, our team is already thinking about ways to expand this work with additional geographies, stakeholders, and research methods for future innovative water resource-related research,” Scruggs said.


Among other things, the group will use interviews to explore farmers’ experiences with water governance structures in the state and to understand their perceptions of the prior appropriation doctrine. The interviews also will focus on farmers’ perspectives on the opportunities for innovation on managing water scarcity.  The study will include communities in the Middle Rio Grande basin.