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Earlier this month, University at Albany public administration and policy professor Jennifer Dodge, received the Paul A. Volcker Research Grant Award.

The grant enables Dodge to hire a graduate student for three months to help with her initial analysis on how fracking has interrupted environmental governance in New York. Currently, Dodge is working with Bill Sisk, a graduate student in the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.

Dodge is interested in analyzing the difference between how New York and Pennsylvania handle fracking since it occurs in Pennsylvania but not in New York.

With this grant, Dodge’s goal is to develop tools for technology assessment.

“If we think about fracking as a combination of new techniques to get oil and gas out of the ground, that poses new and interesting regulatory challenges and societal challenges,” she said.

The tools Dodge hopes to gain from her research could be used in environmental courses to guide students’ thoughts on questions with fracking as an environmental, economic, and energy project.

One of the questions that fracking raises is how to treat the waste water that it produces. This ties in with the environmental impacts that fracking could have. Dodge’s research investigates how both citizens and regulatory bodies respond to the question of fracking, and it considers the emergence of environmental organizations against fracking.

Dodge also questions how issues surrounding fracking are reconfiguring governance by examining how New York and Pennsylvania treat environmental concerns from fracking differently. According to the professor, the two states assessed the technology of fracking in different ways. By examining both states, Dodge hopes to learn how to assess new technologies in the environmental and energy fields.

Prior to this award, the professor researched the gridlock entailed in the fracking decision, specifically the controversy surrounding fracking.

“Gridlock was a positive thing with such a controversial issue because it was allowing people to discuss important issues in a lot of depth,” Dodge concluded through her research.

Dodge has interviewed environmental activists, local government officials, and members of landowner coalitions who support fracking.

“I talk to people from across the spectrum because I want to understand the issue from all the different perspectives,” she said.  

If possible, Dodge would like to interview people in state government. On top of this, she hopes to leverage the grant to receive a National Science Foundation grant, which would allow her to pursue her research interests in more depth by providing funding for two doctoral students’ assistance over a two-year period.

In coming years, Dodge will be able to pass on her research experience to students. The students working with her will receive training in qualitative work that’s related to environmental governance and the policy process. This training would also involve interviews, data collection, and writing.

Currently, Sisk is contributing to a book chapter that Dodge is writing about the fracking controversy. Dodge and Sisk have also written an article together.

The award “gives you more resources to do important work in new areas. It allows you to develop a more convincing case to get a broader, more significant funding,” according to Dodge.  


Elise Coombs, a Syracuse native, is the editor-in-chief of the Albany Student Press. She is the co-Vice President of the UAlbany Mock Trial team, a member of Presidential Honors Society, and a peer mentor for the pre-law section of Writing and Critical Inquiry. After her time at UAlbany, she plans to go to law school and become a First Amendment lawyer.

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