Sara Michaels Portrait
Professor Political Science

Dr. Sarah Michaels is a Professor in the Department of Political Science and a Faculty Fellow in the Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska. Her research agenda pivots around a central question key to appreciating, anticipating and responding to challenges stemming from the dynamics between society and nature: How do decision makers acquire, use and disseminate knowledge to make policy? In her current work she considers how uncertainty and actionable science come to be considered in and to influence policies affecting socio-environmental systems, notably water resources management and governance.

Areas of Interest

  • Water resources policy and governance
  • Uncertainty and knowledge uptake in public policy decision making
  • Science-policy interface
  • Comparative environmental policy
  • Regional governance


  • Advanced Study Program Faculty Fellowship, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • Gilbert F. White Fellowship, Resources for the Future, Washington, District of Columbia
  • Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Economics,
  • University of California, Berkeley, California
  • Stuart Nesbitt White Research Fellowship, Emergency Preparedness Canada
  • University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

Selected Publications

  • "Probabilistic forecasting and the reshaping of flood risk management." Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research.
  • "Localized concerns, scientific argumentation, framing and federalism." Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 6:2-3:173-193. 2014. With Gruszczynski. M.W.
  • "Science communication and the tension between evidence-based and inclusive features of policy making." New Trends in Earth Science Outreach and Engagement: The Nature of Communication (eds.) Drake, J. L., Kontar, Y. Y. and Rife, G. Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research. New York, NY: Springer 38:83-92. 2014. With Holmes, J. and Shaxson, L.
  • "The evolution of elite framing following enactment of legislation." Policy Sciences 45:4:359-384. 2012. With Gruszczynski, M.W.
  • "How indeterminism shapes ecologists’ contributions to managing socio-ecological systems." Conservation Letters 5:4:289-295. 2012. With Tyre, A.J.
  • "Confronting socially generated uncertainty in adaptive management." Journal of Environmental Management 92:5:1365-1370. 2011. With Tyre, A.J.
  • "Matching knowledge brokering strategies to environmental policy problems and settings." Environmental Science and Policy 12:7:994-1011. 2009.