Published: Aug. 19, 2015

CU Environmental Center staff member Taylor Cannon interviewed Dr. McNie about her life, career and passions for this issue of the Monthly Newsletter.

Dr. McNie is a Research Scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a Research Fellow with the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research.  She received her PhD in Environmental Studies with a Graduate Certificate in Science Policy from CU-Boulder and also served as a member of the CU Environmental Board from 2006-2008.   

What originally drew you to pursue a career in Environmental Science?

Some of the most intractable problems we face as humans are coupled human-environmental problems. In other words, we can't work on improving our human condition unless we simultaneously solve the environmental conditions related to them. I see working on environmental science issues as a way to solve both human and environmental problems simultaneously. I like to think that the work I do helps natural resource managers make better decisions about the resources they use, which in turns improves conditions for all of us.

What aspect of your career has been the most fulfilling?

 One of the things I enjoy most about working at a university is the chance I have teaching and mentoring young adults. They are so enthusiastic and passionate about solving problems. I think I have some answers but always come away from my work with students learning more than when I began.

How do you think we can best spread the word about the global significance of maintaining an environmentally sustainable lifestyle?

 I think some people equate environmental stewardship with sacrifice and loss, that in order to take care of the planet we have to give up something. That's not necessarily true. We can still live full and abundant lives while making better decisions related to the planet. I think this message is best spread through personal relationships and knowing people who are living with a modest environmental footprint.

Tell us a bit about your current research for WWA.

 My research focuses on how to design, implement and evaluate the production of more useful climate information to support water resources management. I'm not the expert in climate science or water, but I work with those scientists to help them make their research more relevant and influential.

Do you have any advice for aspiring Environmental Scientists?

Yes! Do something you love to do, do it well, and be sure to carve out time for work-life balance.