Dr. Maria Saldariagga is currently a faculty fellow with IRIS. She is an Assistant Professor in the Mathematics and Natural Science Department at AUIS. Her areas of experrise include Modeling (system dynamics and agent-based modeling); Human-environment systems and integrated management policies; Nexus between climate change, natural resources, communities' cultural values and livelihoods, and social well being and stability.
Dr. Saldarriaga holds a Bachelor in Management Engineering from the National University of Colombia and a Masters and a PhD in System Dynamics from the University of Bergen in Norway. Originally from Colombia, her studies and research have taken her to Norway, India and Zambia. Saldarriaga specializes in the use of modeling and social science methods to study the linkages between humans and the environment, and in the design of integrated policies for natural resources management.
For two years, she conducted research on local climate change and food security in the south of Zambia, where she worked personally with small holder farmers to investigate their vulnerability to climate change and their ability to adapt to it. Maria is currently an Assistant Professor with the Mathematics and Natural Science Department at AUIS. Over the course of the coming year, Saldarriaga will study the role of traditional water galleries – known as karez – in the sustainable management of groundwater resources in Iraqi Kurdistan. The working title of Saldarriaga's research is: "A Social-Ecological Systems Study of Karez in Iraqi Kurdistan: Understanding the Role of Traditional Groundwater Management Systems in Sustainability, Food Insecurity and Internal Migration."
Through her research, Saldarriaga aims to understand the role that karez currently play in rural water and food security. Additionally, she will explore whether karez can be used for sustainable water management given the future challenges of climate change. Finally, Saldarriaga will explore which social, political, economical and technical resources would be required for the sustainable management of karez and for their inclusion within a more general master water management plan for Iraqi Kurdistan.