Sarah Michaels

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

Michaels, S.  forthcoming.  Probabilistic forecasting and the reshaping of flood risk management. Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research.

Gruszczynski, M.W. and Michaels, S.  2014.  Localized concerns, scientific argumentation, framing and federalism. Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research 6:2-3:173-193.

Michaels, S., Holmes, J. and Shaxson, L.  2014.  Science communication and the tension between evidence-based and inclusive features of policy making in 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.

Gruszczynski, M.W. and Michaels, S.  2012.  The evolution of elite framing following enactment of legislation.  Policy Sciences 45:4:359-384.

Michaels, S. and Tyre, A.J.  2012.  How indeterminism shapes ecologists’ contributions to managing socio-ecological systems.  Conservation Letters 5:4:289-295.

Tyre, A.J. and Michaels, S.  2011.  Confronting socially generated uncertainty in adaptive management.  Journal of Environmental Management 92:5:1365-1370.

Michaels, S.  2009.  Matching knowledge brokering strategies to environmental policy problems and settings.  Environmental Science and Policy 12:7:994-1011.