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.
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 Corporation (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
Knopman, Debra, Martin Wachs, Benjamin M. Miller, Scott G. Davis, and 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, Debra, Robert J. Lempert, Urban Responses to Climate Change: Framework for Decisionmaking and Supporting Indicators, RAND Corporation (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