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Graduate Students

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Linda Estelí Méndez Barrientos

I am a third year PhD student in Ecology, National Science Foundation (NSF GRFP) Fellow and Climate Change, Water and Society (CCWAS) NSF IGERT trainee at UC Davis. I am interested in understanding processes of decision making, participation and collaboration at various institutional levels, using groundwater governance in California as the 'vehicle' to analyze these processes.

Contact Information
Office Location: 
2128 Wickson Hall
Phone: 
4158679364

I hold two masters degree, one on Irrigation and Water Engineering from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the other on Agricultural Policy from the Centre international d'études supérieures en sciences agronomiques Montpellier SupAgro in France. Previously, I worked with UNESCO-IHE and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where I developed an etnographic research project to understand processes of implementation of South Africa's monumental land and water reform in its effort to address apartheid's heritage of inequality. 

Meghan Klasic

Meghan is a PhD student in Geography. Her educational interests include water quality, climate change, and decision-making across spatial and temporal scales.

A Pennsylvania native, Meghan spent 10 years working in Washington, DC for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), focusing on the Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Program and the Drinking Water Operator Certification and Capacity Development Program. Meghan received her B.S. in Environmental Science from Dickinson College in 2006 and her M.S. in Environmental Planning and Management from Johns Hopkins University in 2013.

In Fall 2015, Meghan began working with Dr. Julie Ekstrom of the Policy Institute on assessing climate adapation information needs among drinking water utilities in California. In this position, Meghan is focusing on perceived versus actual water quality risk and its broader context within the knowledge-action gap.

Contact Information
Office Location: 
Wickinson Hall

Jess Rudnick

I am a third year PhD Student in the Graduate Group in Ecology.  I am interested in studying social-ecological challenges and looking at the influence of networks and social learning on the decision-making processes and risk management behaviors in agroecological systems in California's Central Valley.  I am also broadly interested in how different agricultural systems globally are adapting to and building resilience within rapidly changing climates.  In this regard, I  worked as a research fellow with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to develop international partnerships and education and outreach materials on climate-smart agriculture practices and incentive programs, to assist growers and agricultural advisors in adapting to changing climates, resource availability, and policies in both California and abroad. Prior to coming to UC Davis, I received my bachelor's degree from Washington University in St. Louis and worked with community development organizations on urban farming projects in St. Louis. 

Contact Information
Office Location: 
Wickson Hall
Phone: 
(314) 488-7646

Madeline Gottlieb

Madeline is a third year doctoral student in the Graduate Group in Ecology, focusing on human ecology and environmental policy. Before coming to UC Davis she worked at Resources for the Future, a Washington, DC-based think tank, on a multi-faceted project examining public perceptions and regulatory aspects of shale development. Her interests broadly center on human-environment interactions and how social networks shape those interactions, particularly in the context of environmental justice. At UC Davis her research focuses on community impacts of unconventional oil and gas development. She holds a dual degree in environmental studies and economics from Connecticut College. Madeline is an active participant in her community - she was the co-chair of the Ecology Graduate Student Association and she co-founded a new publication to increase the visibility of ecology students' research. She in an avid reader, thinker and adventurer who always looks forward to the next challenge.

Associated Organizations: 

Amanda Fencl

Amanda is a PhD candidate in the Geography Graduate Group, an NSF Graduate Research Fellow (2015- ) and  NSF Climate Change, Water and Society IGERT (2013-2015) trainee. Her dissertation is focusing on identifying existing and future vulnerable areas to drought-related drinking water shortages and ways to build regional resilience to future droughts. Since April 2014, she has worked part-time in the Governor's Office of Planning and Research supporting the Drought Task Force's working group on small systems and emergency drinking water, and the state's database for reporting household water shortages. In 2015, also she started working with Dr. Julia Ekstrom at the UC Davis Policy Institute's Climate Adaptation Initiative to look at extreme event impacts on California's drinking water quality.

Contact Information
Office Location: 
2125A Wickson
Phone: 
617.903.0879

She frequently tweets about the #CAdrought from @alfencl

Prior to attending UC Davis, she was a Staff Scientist at the US Center of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and worked on a range of projects from Thai farmer social-networks and on-farm innovation, water scarcity in a low-carbon economy, to mapping and assessing climate vulnerability and planning for adaptation. Prior to SEI, Amanda spent 1.5 years researching microfinance and social-ecological system resilience in Southwest Madagascar as a Tufts University undergraduate. 

Cory Belden

Cory is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science. Her research agenda centers on the political mechanisms and institutions that result in development and positive environmental outcomes in rural areas of developing countries. She is also interested in how politics, such as parties, interest groups, and clientelism, affect public goods allocation and the creation, implementation, enforcement of environmental policies and agendas at the local government level. Cory has a Masters in International Policy Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She has worked in a variety of African and Latin American countries and recently completed work at the World Bank, which focused on the use of information and communication technologies in agricultural development.

Michael Levy

Title: 
PhD Candidate

Michael is a PhD Candidate in the Ecology Graduate Group. He does computational social science to understand how people think about and solve sustainability challenges. He has an MS in Biology from West Virginia University and a BS in Chemistry from Fort Lewis College.

Please visit my personal website: www.michaellevy.name.

Contact Information
Office Location: 
2126 Wickson Hall
Phone: 
530-752-7208

Jonathan Salerno

Title: 
PhD Candidate

I'm a PhD candidate in the Graduate Group in Ecology and broadly interested in biodiversity conservation and rural smallholders in the tropics. My current research examines how land resources and protected areas are utilized at local and national scales in Tanzania, including three areas of study. First, I'm evaluating the presence and extent of human migration around protected areas across Tanzania and the effects of community conservation projects on these movements. Second, I work with Sukuma agropastoralists in western Tanzania to model individual and household decision-making regarding mobility, land use, and conservation. Third, I collaborate with Savannas Forever Tanzania to examine the impacts of community managed conservation areas on household food security. My approaches include spatial analyses of demographic patterns and mechanisms as well as models and methods of decision making from human behavioral ecology.

Contact Information
Office Location: 
2T Young Hall

Matt (Mateo) Robbins

I am a PhD candidate in Ecology, interested in using social network analysis to understand cooperation  and inform decision making about natural resource governance. I am currently studying how an internationl development intervention caused the inter-organizational stakeholder network involved in the spiny lobster fishery in Honduras to change over time.

Contact Information
Office Location: 
2126 Wickson Hall
Phone: 
406-475-2239

Matthew Hamilton

I'm a PhD candidate in the Ecology Graduate Group and an NSF IGERT Trainee. I'm interested in the role of collaborative institutions in promoting adaptive capacity in complex social-ecological systems. My main research project uses approaches from network science to evaluate patterns of interactions among organizations and institutions engaged in climate change adaptation policy-making in the Lake Victoria region.

I'm carrying out this work in collaboration with colleagues from Makerere University in Uganda, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology in Kenya, and the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. More on this project.

For my MSc (also from UC Davis, and also based out of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior), I worked with technical specialists throughout Central America to develop a low-cost technique for gathering environmental and social data on water resources using high-resolution satellite imagery as base layers in participatory mapping exercises. Email: mhamilton@ucdavis.edu

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