Crystal Stiles

Crystal Stiles

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  • My Story
  • Publications & Presentations
  • Background
  • Expertise & Interests
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  • Courses Taught
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Title Applied Climatologist
Address 712 Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
Phone 402-472-8208
FAX 402-472-2946
Vitae Download file
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Hello, my name is Crystal Stiles and I am an applied climatologist and postdoctoral research associate for the High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC). I am currently involved in the Missouri River Basin and Midwest Region National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Regional Drought Early Warning System projects, which aim to bring together stakeholders in a particular region to facilitate drought early warning and preparedness for extreme climate events. In particular, I am working with several Native American tribes to help them enhance climate monitoring and drought management on their reservations. For example, I have helped develop a quarterly climate and drought summary for the tribes of the Wind River Indian Reservation, and the tribes are receiving training from the HPRCC and the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) to eventually take over the development of the summary. I also provide climate services for the HPRCC by writing the monthly regional climate summary and responding to requests from our clients. I do some marketing for the Center by promoting it on social media, and I put together the Center's quarterly newsletter. I also participate in outreach events, mostly aimed at youth, to promote interest in learning about climate. In addition to my duties at the HPRCC, I am the wellness ambassador for the School of Natural Resources, and I am on SNR's Social Committee. I am also a member of the NIDIS Education and Public Awareness Working Group.

I received my Ph.D. in Natural Resource Sciences from UNL in May 2014. My specialization was Applied Climate Science and I worked on projects for the NDMC. My dissertation research involved studying drought planning and management for river basins in the U.S. (please see the Publications & Presentations tab for further information). I received my Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Western Kentucky University in Geography and Geosciences, respectively. I studied drought impacts and planning in Kentucky for my Master's thesis and worked on projects for the Kentucky Mesonet. I also have teaching experience both at UNL and WKU where I taught and assisted with courses in meteorology, climatology, natural resources, and geography.

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my husband, Josh and my beagle, Ripley. I enjoy bowling, storm chasing, and watching a wide array of sporting events. I especially follow Husker football, University of Kentucky basketball, and Cincinnati Reds baseball.

My door is always open and I enjoy meeting new people, so please do not hesitate to stop by my office! I am excited about the collaboration in which I am engaged as an employee of the HPRCC, SNR, and UNL. Thanks for reading my story!

Selected Publications

Shulski, M.D., W. Baule, C. Stiles, and N. Umphlett, 2015: A Historical Perspective on Nebraska’s Variable and Changing Climate. Great Plains Research 25(2), 109-120.
Stiles, C.J., N. Umphlett, J. Rattling Leaf Sr., M.D. Shulski, D. Kluck, M. Hayes, and C. McNutt, 2015: Improving Climate Resiliency in Tribal Communities: Partnering for Change in the Missouri River Basin. Water Resources Impact, 17(4), 15-17.
Bergman, C.J., 2014: Improving Drought Management for Transboundary River Basins in the United States through Collaborative Environmental Planning. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 142 pp.   On-Line
Bathke, D., N. Wall, J. Nothwehr, K. Smith, D. Woudenberg, T. Bernadt, C. Bergman, J. Robine, M. Hayes, M. Svoboda, L. Darby, and R. Pulwarty, 2012: Building a Sustainable Network of Drought Communities. National Integrated Drought Information System Engaging Preparedness Communities Workshop Report, Chicago, Illinois, 37 pp.   On-Line
Bergman, C.J., 2009: A Survey of Drought Impacts and Mitigation Planning in Kentucky. Master's thesis, Western Kentucky University, Paper 95, 178 pp.   On-Line


Selected Presentations

Building Capacity for Climate Monitoring and Drought Management on the Wind River Indian Reservation
  • Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
  • Date: 3/25/2015
  • Abstract: Tribal communities often face unique challenges regarding natural resources management, which in turn increases their vulnerability to climate change and extreme climatic events. Challenges such as climate variability due to mountainous terrain, the occurrence of both extreme drought and significant flooding over a short time span, and water rights issues have prompted the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes of the Wind River Indian Reservation in west-central Wyoming to take action. The High Plains Regional Climate Center, in collaboration with the National Drought Mitigation Center, the North Central Climate Science Center/Colorado State University, the National Climatic Data Center, and the National Integrated Drought Information System, are working with stakeholders on the reservation to increase the tribes’ resilience to drought and other climatic events. The primary role of the High Plains Regional Climate Center is to provide support and expertise regarding climate monitoring on the reservation, as well as to produce a quarterly climate and drought summary for producers, ranchers, and water managers to use as a decision-support tool. A workshop was conducted on the reservation in October 2014 to solicit feedback on the summary and to discuss the reservation’s current and potential climate monitoring capabilities. It was determined that a second workshop would be tentatively scheduled in late winter 2015 to discuss drought planning and additional climate monitoring needs for the reservation. It is also anticipated that the climate and drought summary will become operational in March 2015, as this is a critical time of year for the reservation’s water managers to make decisions about water allocation for the upcoming season.
  • Full Citation:
Improving Drought Management for Transboundary River Basins in the United States through Collaborative Environmental Planning
  • Presentation Type: Dissertation Defense
  • Date: 3/31/2014
  • Abstract:

    Increasing demand for water and the uncertainty of climate change have put pressure on the global water supply, presenting one of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century for human development. Drought is a natural hazard that further compromises water supply and increases competition among water use sectors, although it is considered to be a normal part of climate. These challenges confirm the need for comprehensive water supply and drought planning. Planning for water, however, is often conducted within political boundaries that are not consistent with the water resource's natural boundaries, which can result in conflict. Collaborative environmental planning is a relatively new sub discipline of planning that can address the occurrence of drought in a transboundary river basin. While international-level transboundary water resources planning has been well addressed by the literature, little research has been done to explore this type of planning at the U.S. state level. This research answers the following question: How are water planning agencies using collaborative planning to improve the management of drought in transboundary basins in the U.S.?

    To address this question, transboundary basins in the U.S. that are planning for drought were identified, and basin-level drought planners were interviewed about drought management strategies, the role of collaboration and coordination in the planning process, and recommendations for drought planning in a transboundary basin based on experiences with successes and barriers. It was found that while the drought planning process is similar for all basins, each basin implements drought management strategies that are unique to their circumstances in the basin. The research also found that collaboration and coordination are necessary components of drought planning for transboundary basins. Recommendations made by interview participants based on their experiences with successes and barriers centered upon collaboration and coordination, communication, government and legal matters, the planning process, and stakeholders. Further research is recommended to determine the necessity of having an institution for coordination to assist with planning in a transboundary basin.

Educational Background

  • BS - Western Kentucky University, Geography (2005)
  • Other - Western Kentucky University, Geographic Information Systems Certificate (2009)
  • MS - Western Kentucky University, Geoscience (2009)
  • PhD - University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Natural Resource Sciences (2014)


  • 2006 – Ronald R. Dilamarter Outstanding Geography Senior Award awarded by Dept. of Geography & Geology, Western Kentucky University 

SNR Mission Area(s)

  • Applied Climate and Spatial Science

Affiliations (index)

Professional Organizations

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Areas of Interest

  • Drought impacts
  • Drought planning
  • Applied climatology
  • Climate services
  • Climate Change
  • Weather

SNR Areas of Expertise

Keyword Expert Level

10 - Top Expert
1 - Mild Interest



Climate Change




Drought Mitigation




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Currently this page only displays grants that were awarded on 1/1/2009 to the present. If a grant was awarded prior to 1/1/2009 and is still active, it will not be displayed on this page.

Grant Title Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance Climate Partnership: Development of Water Resource Vulnerability Assessments to Build Tribal Resilience
Starting Date 10/1/2016
Principal Investigators
Crystal Stiles
Natalie Umphlett
Ending Date 9/30/2018
Funding Level $40,000.00
Funding Source Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance

Grant Title Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance Climate Partnership: Development of Water Resource Vulnerability Assessments to Build Tribal Resilience Category 1
Starting Date 10/1/2016
Principal Investigators
Crystal Stiles
Natalie Umphlett
Ending Date 9/30/2018
Funding Level $42,000.00
Funding Source Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance

Grant Title AWR: Tribal Climate Summaries
Starting Date 9/1/2016
Principal Investigators
Natalie Umphlett
Crystal Stiles
Ending Date 8/31/2017
Funding Level $60,000.00
Funding Source National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration