Melissa Haeffner, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Science and Management department at Portland State University. Her research unifies several research domains that contribute to the knowledge of local politics in watersheds and how they shape urban water infrastructure development in the past, in the present, and under future predictions. Her ongoing research and teaching commitments investigate water insecurity and justice within municipal water systems and the links between multi-scale policies, infrastructural and environmental conditions, and household behavior. Her work focuses on “just water” and how social, political, and biophysical factors structure access to water, using the concept of environmental justice to draw attention to issues of fairness and equality in the ways different social groups gain access to natural resources.
Dr. Haeffner received a BA/MA in Sociology from DePaul University and a Masters in Science through the Department of Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received her PhD from Colorado State University (CSU) in the Graduate Degree Program of Ecology, with a specialization in human-environment interactions. Her dissertation was titled "Vulnerability to drought in the La Paz, Mexico watershed." She has earned certificates from the Consensus Building Institute at MIT and from the Scenario Building Institute at CSU. She is the author of the book Water Walkers: portraits of Ghana's street vendors, based on qualitative fieldwork, and several scientific papers.
I am excited to teach at Portland State University. Portland State is located on the traditional homelands of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Tumwater, Watlala bands of the Chinook, the Tualatin Kalapuya, and many other indigenous nations of the Columbia River. We acknowledge the ancestors of this place and understand that we are here because of the sacrifices forced upon them. By recognizing these communities, we honor their legacy, their lives, and their descendants.