Decision Center for a Desert City marks leadership change

Dave White

Dave White has assumed the role of principal investigator and co-director at the Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) at Arizona State University, replacing Patricia Gober. The appointment was part of a planned transition that was phased in over the past year and a half, marking several significant milestones in leadership and administration, said Rob Melnick, executive dean of the Global Institute of Sustainability.

White, an associate professor in the School of Community Resources and Development in ASU’s College of Public Programs, has been with DCDC since its inception; first as senior project personnel in DCDC I, then as co-principal investigator and associate director for DCDC II.

The Decision Center for a Desert City was established in 2004 by the National Science Foundation to advance scientific understanding of environmental decision making under conditions of uncertainty. Gober, the founding director and principal investigator, stepped down to assume a position as a professor in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at University of Saskatchewan. She splits her research and scholarship between Saskatchewan and ASU, where she is a research professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Charles Redman, founding director of ASU’s School of Sustainability, continues his role at DCDC as co-principal investigator and co-director, positions he has held since the center was established. Additionally, Kerry Smith, a Regents’ Professor in the W. P. Carey School of Business, and Kelli Larson, an associate professor in the School of Sustainability and the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, have been added to the executive committee. White and Redman also are on the committee, along with other co-principal investigators Margaret Nelson, associate dean at Barrett, The Honors College, and Craig Kirkwood, Professor Emeritus in the W.P. Carey School of Business.
White is also a senior sustainability scientist with the Global Institute of Sustainability and affiliate faculty with the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes. His work focuses on understanding and enhancing the linkages between science and policy for environmental decision-making.

He has developed and studied processes, outcomes and institutional forms of boundary organizations for the co-production of knowledge and decisions; identified divergent perspectives between stakeholder groups at the science-policy nexus; and tested competing methods for gathering information on sensitive topics from decision-makers. This work has contributed to the development and refinement of new tools and techniques for collaborative environmental decision making such as the DCDC WaterSim model.

White is the author of more than two dozen articles about the interactions of science and society published in journals including Science and Public Policy, Environmental Science and Policy, Environment and Behavior, and Society and Natural Resources. He is a recipient of the ASU President’s Medal for Social Embeddedness. White received his doctorate in forestry from Virginia Tech in 2002.

DCDC II is one of four NSF funded programs studying Decision Making Under Uncertainty. The NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. DCDC is a research center at ASU administered by the Global Institute of Sustainability.

Additional information about Decision Center for a Desert City is included in the most recent annual report to the National Science Foundation at