Crystal Stiles

Crystal Stiles

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  • My Story
  • Publications & Presentations
  • Background
  • Interests
  • Grants
  • Advising
  • Courses Taught
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Title Applied Climatologist
Address 3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
Phone 402-202-3320
Vitae Download file
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Hello, my name is Crystal Stiles and I am an Applied Climatologist and Assistant Geoscientist for the High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) in the School of Natural Resources at UNL. I direct the HPRCC's stakeholder engagement program for the High Plains region and surrounding areas. I coordinate with regional climate partners, evaluate climate data and information needs for stakeholders in the region, identify and exercise opportunities to grow awareness and use of HPRCC's climate data and information, and provide expertise and assistance on National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) projects related to Drought Early Warning Systems. I also spend part of my time working on projects for the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), which is also housed within SNR at UNL. In addition to these duties, I write climate summaries for the region and for several Native American tribes, and I promote the HPRCC through social media and 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 and NDMC, I am the wellness ambassador for SNR and have led the development of a wellness initiative for the department.

I received my Ph.D. in Natural Resource Sciences from UNL in 2014. My specialization was Climate Assessment and Impacts 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 at both 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 am a sports fanatic. 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

Smith, K.H., C.J. Stiles, M.J. Hayes, and C.J. Carparelli, 2016: Support for Drought Response and Community Preparedness: Filling the Gaps between Plans and Action. In Water Policy and Planning in a Variable and Changing Climate: 123-139. Online
Shulski, M., Baule, W., Stiles, C., Umphlett, N. A. 2015. A Historical Perspective on Nebraska’s Variable and Changing Climate. Great Plains Research, 25(2):109-120. Online
Stiles, C., Umphlett, N., Rattling Leaf, Sr., J., Shulski, M., Kluck, D., Hayes, M. J., McNutt, C. 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. Online
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. Online
Bergman, C.J., 2009: A Survey of Drought Impacts and Mitigation Planning in Kentucky. Master's thesis, Western Kentucky University, Paper 95, 178 pp. Online


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 with a Specialization in Climate Assessment and Impacts (2014)


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

SNR Program Area(s)

  • Applied Climate and Spatial Science

Affiliations (index)

Professional Organizations

Notable Websites

Areas of Interest

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

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