Lessening humanity’s impact on the environment requires structuring public decision-making processes to yield environmentally favorable and socially equitable effective decisions, while working with the constraints of real people and organizations. Our research focuses on the interaction between people, regulatory processes, infrastructure, and the environment. Specifically, we seek to identify ways (1) to make environmental planning and management processes more flexible and adaptive and (2) to redesign the permitting and operations of large infrastructure (especially water and energy) to meet more diverse environmental and social needs.

Because solving environmental problems requires interdisciNicolas Anteaterplinary approaches, our group draws on the fields of environmental governance, public management, and water resources engineering to link the design of environmental decision-making processes to their long-term performance. We use both qualitative and quantitative analysis, including surveys, econometric modeling, archival research, computational text mining, case studies, and ethnography.

Ongoing Research

Text Mining of Environmental Impact Assessments

What can we learn about infrastructure governance from Environmental Impact Statements? What factors do federal resource managers consider in infrastructure siting? Does public participation influence the process? Do they learn from climate change? How do they incorporate environmental justice considerations? Funding: UC Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative

SedRISE (Sediment Resilient Infrastructure & Sustainable Environments)

What are the geological, ecological, and institutional dimensions of the sediment system in coastal Southern California? Can participatory modeling help managers envision more sustainable sediment management practices? Funding: NOAA Ecological Effects of Sea Level Rise (PI: Brett Sanders)

Headwaters to groundwater: Resources in a changing climate

What are key uncertainties in the movement of water from snowpack to rivers and groundwater in the Central Valley? How will the system change as precipitation varies, temperatures warm, and population grows? What policy and management approaches will help communities and the state manage its water system more effectively under climate change? Funding: UC Lab Fees Research Program (PI: Jeff Dozier)

Causal pathways and complex water management on the Colorado River

What are the effects of drought, legal regimes, and economic shifts on water allocation tradeoffs between society and the environment in the Colorado Basin? Which states, regions, or sectors will win or lose under different climate and demographic scenarios? Funding: SESYNC (PI: Albert Ruhi)

Modeling the Social Ecology of Coastal Flood Risk

How might floods affect low-income and vulnerable populations in California? How might modeling and visualization tools improve these group’s resilience and recovery? Funding: NSF Coastlines & People (PI: Richard Matthew)

Past Research Projects

Collaborative Governance in FERC Hydropower Relicensing

What are the environmental and economic impacts of collaboration in the licensing and operation of hydropower facilities? Does collaborative development of computer simulation models affect stakeholder trust in and use of scientific information in planning processes? How do collaboration and uncertainty interact to produce effective resource management? How does stakeholder engagement evolve over time?

Building Efficient & Effective Environmental Permitting Processes

What factors lead to delay in approval of environmental permits? Do faster permitting processes have less stringent environmental protections? Does the timing of permitting delay affect overall project costs or benefits?

Creativity in Research

How can scientists and scholars develop abilities to become more creative and productive researchers?