Jessica Neafie – Co-Director & VP of Water Security Policy

I was born in Texas, but grew up on the sunny beaches in Florida. I studied political science and Asian studies at the University of Florida, where during study abroad terms in Morocco and China decided I wanted to work in international relations. After Florida, I then completed a MA in Diplomatic Studies at University of Westminster in London and then briefly worked in DC while I tried to figure out what I was passionate about. It wasn’t until reading When a Billion Chinese Jump by Jonathan Watts while living in China that I found my passion and realized that I wanted to work on issues dealing with water policy and climate change.

In 2011, I moved to New York to pursue and interdisciplinary degree in climate science and policy at Columbia University. My work at Columbia focused on water issues, not only was I part of a research group at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory doing research on the Mekong and Red River Deltas but has the chance to explore issues of river management and virtual water flows. While attending Columbia I was also a founding member of the Aquanauts, a water science and policy group that informs students about water issues, and had a chance to write about water issues in the newsletter put out by the group.

After finishing up at Columbia I worked with both an environmental engineering group and a nature reserve doing environmental education while I applied for PhD programs. Today, I am a PhD student at the University of Oregon, where I am doing research on globalization and water resource management.

My past positions have given me opportunities to build skills in communication- particularly in learning how to expose people with a non-scientific background in scientific issues and in educating people on issues of both science and policy. I have worked with a variety of groups, including academics, students, NGOs, and businessmen.

Academic History:

Ph.D., Political Science, University of Oregon                                                                  Expected 2017

Current Research: “The Politics of Potable Water Access: Is foreign direct investment a help or a hindrance to countries trying to provide water to their populations?”

M.A., Climate Science and Environmental Policy, Columbia University                   2012

M.A., Diplomatic Studies, University of Westminster                                           2009

Thesis: United States-North Korean nuclear diplomacy: the failure of diplomacy to achieve the goals of the US, and what this means to the diplomatic relationship between these two nations.

B.A., Asian Studies; B.A., Political Science, University of Florida                2007

Hobbies and Interests:

Language (Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, French)




Community Service

Academic Disciplines:

International Relations

Asian Studies

Environmental Science and Policy

Research Interests

Environmental Policy

International Affairs

Security Studies

International Political Economy

International Treaties and Organizations