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Melissa Kenney


Wednesday, April 14, 2021, from 12:30 - 1:30 pm on Zoom.


Human-Environmental Decision Support Systems


Decisions are a combination of scientific facts or predictions and decision-makers’ or society’s values. There are a few cases where the scientifically assessed consequences of different options lead to a clear solution, but more often there are multiple, competing objectives, incompatible stakeholders’ values and objective weights, and uncertainty about quantifying the consequences (positive and negative) of different choices. As a result, it is important to both understand the problems and develop methods that can help to make difficult decisions less complex. In this talk, I will discuss several efforts where I have co-designed integrated models and decision support systems that incorporate multiple disciplinary insights and quantify management relevant consequences. Inspired by current environmental problems, my team’s work has focused on identifying optimal watershed restoration options, setting water quality standards, quantifying the benefits eutrophication reductions, assessing the ecosystem services of stream and environmental restoration, and developing indicator information systems to support a range of diverse climate adaptation decisions. Through this work, I seek to support evidence-based decision-making by bridging the gap between scientific results and outputs needed for water resources, sustainability, and climate decision-making.



Dr. Melissa A. Kenney is the Director of Research and Knowledge Initiatives at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment where she directs efforts to build synergy across IonE’s broad scientific research portfolio. Dr. Kenney is an environmental decision scientist with expertise in multidisciplinary, team-based science approaches to solving sustainability challenges. Her research program broadly addresses how to integrate both scientific knowledge and societal values into policy decision-making under uncertainty. Over the past decade, this work has led to more than 50 publications; more than $5M in grants awarded; more than 100 invited talks, including at the National Academies of Sciences; multiple invited White House events integrating her research findings; and opportunities to translate scientific findings as policy memos or decision support prototypes to federal agencies and the highest levels of government.