Debra Knopman

Photo of Debra Knopman
Adjunct Engineer
Off Site Office

Education

Ph.D. in geography and environmental engineering, Johns Hopkins University; M.S. in civil engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; B.A. in chemistry, Wellesley College

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

More Experts

Overview

Debra Knopman is an adjunct engineer at the RAND Corporation. She served as vice president and director of RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment, later called Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment, from 2004 to 2014, and then as a principal researcher from 2014 to 2022.

Knopman's expertise is in hydrology, environmental and natural resources policy, systems analysis, and public administration. Her project work spans a range of topics including adaptation of urban regions to a changing climate, long-term water management, capability development planning for the Air Force, policy options for nuclear waste disposal, and organizational design for R&D.

She served for six years (1997–2003) as a member of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board and chaired the board's Site Characterization Panel. She was the director of the Progressive Policy Institute's Center for Innovation and the Environment from 1995 to 2000. From 1993 to 1995, Knopman was the deputy assistant secretary for Water and Science, U.S. Department of the Interior. She had previously been a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and later chief of the Branch of Systems Analysis in the USGS's Water Resources Division. From 1979 to 1983, she served first as legislative assistant for energy and environmental issues to Senator Daniel P. Moynihan and then as professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Knopman earned her Ph.D. in geography and environmental engineering from the Johns Hopkins University, her M.S.C.E. from MIT, and her B.A. in chemistry from Wellesley College.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Co-chair of Board of Trustees, Henry Luce Foundation

Previous Positions

Vice President and Director, RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment (2004-2014); Principal Researcher

Recent Projects

  • Mid-Atlantic Regional Sciences and Assessments (MARISA) 2.0: Continuity and Expansion of Community-Based Engagement and Support
  • Implementation Guidance for RAND PAF Resilience Valuation Framework
  • Federal aviation infrastructure and financing
  • Decision support for urban responses to climate change and impact on infrastructure planning
  • Infrastructure policy in the U.S.

Selected Publications

Clancy, Noreen, Melissa L. Finucane, Jordan R. Fischbach, David G. Groves, Debra Knopman, Karishma V. Patel, and Lloyd Dixon, The Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Mitigation Grant Program: Incorporating Hazard Risk and Social Equity into Decisionmaking Processes, RAND (RR-A1258), 2022

Miller, Benjamin M., Debra Knopman, Liisa Ecola, Brian Phillips, Moon Kim, Nathaniel Edenfield, Daniel Schwam, and Diogo Prosdocimi, U.S. Airport Infrastructure Funding and Financing: Issues and Policy Options Pursuant to Section 122 of the 2018 Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, RAND (RR-3175), 2020

Fischbach, Jordan R., Debra Knopman, Heather Smith, Philip Orton, Eric W. Sanderson, Kim Fisher, Nerissa Moray, Adam Friedberg, and Adam Parris, Building Resilience in an Urban Coastal Environment: Integrated, Science-Based Planning in Jamaica Bay, New York, RAND (RR-2193-RF), 2018

Groves, David G., Debra Knopman, Neil Berg, Craig A. Bond, James Syme, and Robert J. Lempert, , Adapting Land Use and Water Management Plans to a Changing Climate in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, Florida, RAND (RR-1932), 2018

Debra Knopman, Martin Wachs, Benjamin M. Miller, Scott G. Davis, Katherine Pfrommer, Not Everything Is Broken: The Future of U.S. Transportation and Water Infrastructure Funding and Finance, RAND Corporation (RR-1739-RC), 2017

Knopman, D. and R.J. Lempert, Urban Responses to Climate Change: Framework for Decisionmaking and Supporting Indicators, RAND (RR-1144-MCF), 2016

Groves, D.G., J.R. Fischbach, D. Knopman, D.R. Johnson and K. Giglio, Strengthening Coastal Planning: How Coastal Regions Could Benefit from Louisiana's Planning and Analysis Framework, RAND Corporation (RR-437), 2014

Davis, L.E., D. Knopman, M. Greenberg, L. Miller, and A. Doll., Choosing a New Organization for Management and Disposition of Used Nuclear Fuel and Defense High-level Nuclear Waste, RAND Corporation (MG-1230), 2012

Honors & Awards

  • Alumnae Achievement Award, Wellesley College (2016)
  • Woodrow Wilson Award for Distinguished Government Service, 2001, Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association
  • Luce Scholar, Henry Luce Foundation

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Congressional Quarterly; Environment and Energy Daily; Investor's Business Daily; Washington Post

Commentary: BBC; CNN; Fox News Channel; The Hill; Inside Sources; Las Vegas Sun; United Press International; U.S. News & World Report

Commentary

Publications