STEM Shoutout: Lani Tsinnajinnie

New UNM professor focuses on water resources planning, development, and sustainability

Lani Tsinnajinnie is a new assistant professor in UNM’s Community and Regional Planning Department. She will focus on water resources planning, development, and sustainability. Tsinnajinnie graduated from UNM with a bachelor’s degree in Native American Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science in 2007. In 2011, Tsinnajinnie graduated from UNM with a master’s degree in water resources. Currently, she is completing her doctorate in hydrology from New Mexico Tech.

“I study snow-dominated, mountainous watersheds in the Southwest. These watersheds are important for water resources in the Southwest, but are also vulnerable to impacts of climate change. My dissertation research is focused in watersheds in the Chuska Mountains, which are located within the Navajo Nation and along the Arizona/New Mexico border. I particularly focus on how groundwater and surface water (streams) interact in these watersheds and how these interactions may control streamflow responses to climate change. I have also done research on snowpack variability in the Chuska Mountains and revegetation around springs following wildfires,” Tsinnajinnie said.

In April 2018, Tsinnajinnie published article about snowpack variability in the Chuska Mountains. Additionally, she is working on developing a new webpage to display her latest research endeavors.

“My goals at UNM are to further develop relationships with communities in New Mexico to understand water resource issues affecting these communities, and to help students and communities build their capacities to address these issues. As a Diné and Filipino woman who grew up on the Navajo Reservation and as someone who has worked with Native communities, I see water resources issues, such as lack of infrastructure or threats related to resource development, that directly affect the community I come from. I believe that communities, including my home community, can learn from one another about how to address the different water resources challenges they are facing,” Tsinnajinnie said.