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Nicolas Zegre

Nicolas examining a tree


My research and my service focus on water security. And water security is understanding not only whether there’s a sufficient amount of water for people and ecosystems to use but also sufficient quality and safety so economies and communities and ecosystems can thrive.

The thing I'm most excited about is that West Virginia has the potential to rethink our economy based on the sustainable use of water. A critical part of my research examines what future climate change means for West Virginia. As two-thirds of the United States is looking to become warmer and dryer under climate change, West Virginia’s water resources are projected to be relatively stable, which gives us an opportunity to kind of rethink how we use our water.

If you weren’t working at WVU, what’s the most likely alternative?

The practical one would be working as a hydrologist for a nonprofit organization focused on environmental justice. Impractical, though, my dream is to have a restaurant. I love baking and I love cooking and preparing food.

What do you like to make the most?

I’m a bread baker and I bake bagels, which are hard to find here - real bagels. I love working with any locally sourced product that I can grow or forage.

Moment you knew what you wanted to study?

I never ever ever planned on going to college. I went to the military. I was in the Army straight out of high school. While I was in the Army, my job involved finding sources of water for military operations. It was during that time that I could have a career focused on the environment and focused on water resources. Once I got out of the Army, I had the G.I. Bill, went to WVU and found my path studying water and ironically ended up as an academic though I never planned to go to college. 

Moment you knew your current role was right for you?

I knew that my position and my role at WVU was the right place because I felt supported at every level from my program level, from my department level, at the college and university level. I feel like I’ve always been given the support to do what it is that I’m passionate about and what’s important. And that suggested to me that this was the right fit.

Favorite part of social distancing?

My favorite part of social distancing is all of the time I get to spend with my family, my partner Sera and my two kids. It’s wonderful to see them all throughout the day and have that time together. The pace of the world doesn’t normally allow that.

Least favorite part of social distancing?

My least favorite part is the lack of day-to-day interactions with students and with colleagues. I’m a people-person, and I absolutely love interacting with people each and every moment. That’s been the most challenging.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be in southern Mexico in a state called Chiapas because of the rugged mountains and the large number of rivers and the rainforest. I’m a whitewater kayaker and that area has so much potential. My profession doesn’t play into that choice. I’ve spent a lot of time there mapping caves. I’ve been there on different caving expeditions, but I’ve never conducted research there. But it’s by choice because I’m super committed to moving West Virginia forward. I put all my research efforts into West Virginia and Appalachia.

Just for Fun

Favorite book: How to be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi

Favorite movie/tv show: Quadrophenia

Favorite Spotify playlist/band/song: Stick Figure Radio

Favorite local restaurant: Hill and Hollow

Favorite local activity: White water kayaking