Graduate students studying water issues in southeastern and
western Wyoming received Vanvig Graduate Fellowship awards from the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wyoming.
Alicia Grahmann of Hallettsville, Texas, and Ellen Yeatman of Little Rock, Ark., in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, received the fellowships this fall.
Former department head Andy Vanvig and his wife, Connie, established the $4,000 fellowship to support a recipient’s graduate studies.
A graduate committee with input from faculty members usually selects one Vanvig Fellow per year.
“Every year it is a difficult decision because we have so many exceptional and hard-working graduate students,” said Ben Rashford, head of the department. “This year was as difficult as ever, and the committee decided to give two Vanvig Fellowships.”
Rashford said aggressive endowment returns boosted additional available funds.
Grahmann is working with associate professor Kristi Hansen on a water resource project in southeastern Wyoming comparing results of an annual economic model with a version that incorporates producer response to precipitation throughout the season, to see the difference on producer returns, yields, groundwater use and energy costs.
She’ll analyze the effects of water use efficiency technologies – soil moisture sensors and real-time energy meters – on decreasing energy costs and groundwater use while maintaining or improving producer net returns.
Yeatman’s thesis with Hansen, extension’s water resource economics specialist, presents a modeling framework to analyze the economic and ecological tradeoffs of paying agricultural producers to use less water given the uncertainty of water availability.
She organized interviews with producers and professionals across her study sites in the Green River Basin and developed the first draft of a survey that is part of a parallel basin-wide project. The Green River Basin is part of the greater Colorado River Basin, and Rashford said Yeatman is now immersed through stakeholder meetings and conferences in water law, multi-state drought management and the evolving initiatives around water scarcity.