Dr. Margie Vela : Socio-environmental Researcher

I have always been interested in social issues. They are big, complex, and sometimes very messy. This is what makes them intriguing. Solutions to these issues involve elements of humanity that can rarely be put into an equation that fits every community or household. I take an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the complexity of socio-environmental issues considering the impact of the environment and changes in the environment on elements of human development.

I am a community-based researcher who has engaged high school students living in colonias , on the U.S.-Mexico Border, which are peri-urban and rural communities lacking infrastructure and formal local representation. Many of these communities are currently experiencing water inequity . I train and support students for engaging in participatory action research to discover the environmental conditions in their communities. They collect data and report the way they perceive community members interact with water, propose solutions for problems they find in the community, and outline the barriers that they must overcome to resolve some of the most pressing environmental issues in their towns. Analysis of data in the aggregate reveals the most common issues experienced throughout the community, and uncovers the community capital investments that can begin to provide water equity to all members of these communities.

It is in spaces with young people that many practical and effective solutions to pressing community issues are presented. Innovation and creativity meet practicality and common sense in these working groups. I always leave these spaces feeling inspired and encouraged that our leaders in the making will take good care of our water and people. Working with young people is one of the greatest honors of my life.
Click here for my CV.


Dr. Margie Vela: PI for the Water and People Project (WAPP)

One of the projects that has explored these phenomena the is the Water and People Project. This interdisciplinary work focuses on the social implications of water inequity, exploring the relationships between potable water educational attainment for communities on the Southern U.S. Border.

Dr. Margie Vela: Education and Experience

I am native to El Paso, Texas and hold an M.B.A. and a B.S. in Business Marketing. I have served the State of NM and NMSU as a Regent for NMSU. I have also worked in several professional roles including Assistant Director for the Science and Mathematics Initiative for Learning Enrichment at Delaware State University; and Project Director for the HIRED! Program at Child, Youth, and School Services for Fort Lee, Virginia. I have also had the opportunity to serve as a volunteer consultant for rural organic farmers in Colombia regarding water use and organizational development with the Farmer-to-Farmer Program for USAID. I have also spent time conducting workshops for college students and researchers on various topics including interdisciplinary research, complex socio-environmental problems, and college success.