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My research focuses on human behavior and the role of governance institutions in solving collective action problems and facilitating cooperation. The collective action problems associated with environmental policy provide a laboratory for my research. My current projects include watershed management, environmental activism, agricultural best management practices, and institutional change in local governments. I also dabble in experimental economics and simulation techniques to further explore collective action theory. See a recent talk at Yale here:

I am co-director of the CEPB. Much of my work investigates the conditions under which scientific knowledge is integrated into the public policy process. I examine how decision-makers obtain, interpret, and apply scientific knowledge to real-world environmental policy problems. I pay particular attention to the decisions of ground-level government officials whose day-to-day work shapes policy, analyzing how their institutional contexts affect their information and choice opportunities. Much of my current work focuses on the regulation of hydraulic fracturing (fracking); I am also interested in wetland and water policy. I use a variety of methods in my work, including surveys, interviews, social network analysis, and statistical analysis.

Associated Faculty

Jim Quinn is a Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California, Davis, Director of the Information Center for the Environment (ICE), and leader of the California Information Node (CAIN) of the National Biological Information Infrastructure. Current research interests include environmental applications of Semantic Web technologies, the use of geospatial information systems to assess biodiversity, land use, and water quality, international databases and information sharing on invasive species and species in protected areas, watershed and floodplain analysis, and applications of geographic data and models to land use and conservation planning in California.

Research Interests: Evolution of ecologically important behaviors (predator-prey, mating, and social behaviors), life history traits, and how these influence population and community ecological patterns. Most projects examine freshwater organisms - e.g., fish, amphibian larvae, crayfish, insects and other freshwater invertebrates. Current applied ecological interests include studying effects of pesticides on predator-prey interactions, and behavioral mechanisms underlying species invasions.

Jim's research applies quantitative empirical and theoretical methods to study the conservation of natural resources. Topics include marine reserves, land-use and biodiversity conservation, invasive species management, provision of ecosystem services, rebuilding marine populations, resilience of coral reef ecosystems, household energy use, land use and non-point source pollution, open space referendum, design of market based policies, New Zealand’s individual fishing quota system, and U.S. fishery policy.

Dr. Lin received her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 2006. She is an economist with a background in both the natural sciences and the social sciences, and is interested in issues related to energy, the environment and natural resources. She enjoys working on projects that are technically sound, innovative, challenging, and that are of interest to academics, business practitioners and policy-makers alike.

Dr. Susan Handy is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and the Director of the Sustainable Transportation Center at the University of California Davis. Her research interests focus on the relationships between transportation and land use, particularly the impact of land development patterns on travel behavior. She is internationally known for her research on the connection between neighborhood design and walking behavior. Her current work focuses on improving understanding the choice to bicycle as a mode of transportation. She is a member of the Committee on Women’s Issues in Transportation of the Transportation Research Board and has served on committees of the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.

I am interested in the interactions between people and agricultural and semi-natural systems which they attempt to manage. In particular, I am interested in the role of plant disease in these interactions as both a target for action and a stimulus for the adoption of particular courses of action. My research group is located in the Plant Pathology Department at UC Davis. We study a range of applied and theoretical issues concerning plant diseases, usually in collaboration with other researchers and typically with some broadly economic angle to the work.

Mike works in the areas of resource and environmental economics on problems involving decision-making under uncertainty, learning, adaptive management and environmental risk. His methods include econometrics with Bayesian inference, Bayesian learning processes, dynamic control and general equilibrium models. Recent and current projects include: combined bioeconomic and quantitative genetic models for salmon biodiversity management; estimating and mitigating invasive species risk from international trade; adaptive management of environmental risk; econometrics for decision-making applied to screening of potentially hazardous imports; and analysis of greenhouse gas control policies under uncertainty.

Ryan is a behavioural economist with CSIRO's Ecosystem Sciences, Australia. He studies social behaviours that are shaped by key environmental processes, with a particular interest in institutions for managing variability and uncertainty. He spent many years exploring the mechanisms for coping with variability in arid and semi-arid Australia. More recently he has examined the distribution of the economic winners and losers from climate adaptations, how this impedes action, and the institutions that help overcome inaction. Ryan's main approaches include game and network theory. For publications see

Postdoctoral Researcher

I'm a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Environmental Science and Policy. I use approaches from evolutionary ecology to study the social and cultural processes that shape individual behavior in environmental contexts. I’m particularly interested in how behavior and policy interact to shape sustainability. I use theoretical models, behavioral experiments and observational data collection using surveys and interviews to examine these issues.

I'm a post-doctoral researcher who specializes in networks science. For the Rangeland project, I wrote an interactive, electronic survey that asked Ranchers, Environmentalists, and Rangeland Professionals what they would do with a specific rangeland property. Using those surveys, and data collected from group discussions on the same topic, I am mapping individuals' cognitive networks and how these change during the group discussion. I'm also working on other projects around the lab from organizational to semantic network projects.

Graduate Students

Jacob is a graduate student in the Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Group. His research centers on various aspects of water resource policy and management. He is currently working with rural development groups in Central America aiming to make Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) the primary planning approach at the local level. These groups recognize that water affects, and is affected by, a complex network of social, economic, and environmental interests, and are attracted to the integrated nature of IWRM. Jacob is currently working on a network analysis of stakeholder groups in micro-watersheds throughout Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua in the context of IWRM. This study will further understanding of how the patterns of collaboration between stakeholders contributes to improved water resources development and management and outcomes.

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 received a MA in Geography at UC Davis in 2008 and a BA at UC Berkeley. I'm currently working towards a PhD in Geography focusing on collective action and community based environmental management. My research on local groundwater governance is being conducted in Guadalupe Valley, Mexico's largest viticulture region. Currently I'm working with the Nature Conservancy and UC Davis' Center for Watershed Sciences investigating the feasibility of a water fund in N. Baja. I'm also using my research as a case study for a book chapter on Collaborative Governance.

I am a PhD student in Transportation Technology and Policy

My research centers around environmental and travel behavior with an emphasis on the policy implications of social processes.  In my doctoral research I bring a social networks perspective to traditional rational choice models of travel behavior that have, until recently, emphasized factors such as costs, convenience and socio-demographic characteristics. Social networks may be incorporated into programs aimed at increasing the use of sustainable modes of transportation through process such as information sharing, and the establishment of social norms. Understanding the role of social influence in travel behavior can inform socially oriented transportation programs, and at the same time improve understanding of social influence in environmental behaviors.

I am a third-year graduate student in Ecology, interested in using formal models of social agent interactions to inform decision making about natural systems. I am currently studying the evolution over time of a policy network of organizations involved in the spiny lobster fishery in Honduras.

I am also interested in sustainable agriculture at both the policy, community and individual farm levels.

Angee is a graduate student in UC Davis's Graduate Group in Ecology, Department of Environmental Science and Policy. Her dissertation work examines the intersection of social science and natural science, by looking into policies leading to the sustainable use of natural resources in developing countries. Angee's focus is on marine resource use in the Bahamas, particularly the Caribbean spiny lobster fishery. Along with her dissertation work, Angee has published an encyclopedia chapter on Territorial Use Rights in Fisheries and two manuscripts. The first was a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for a National Seashore and the second reexamined conservation monitoring, approaching it as an investment decision. Angee is a Switzer Fellow and a Packard Conservation Management Fellow. Angee's graduate advisor is CEPB's Jim Sanchirico.

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.

Michael is a PhD student in the Ecology Graduate Group and a Trainee in the NSF Climate Change, Water and Society IGERT. He is broadly interested in using quantitative and complex systems methods like network analysis and agent-based modeling to understand coupled social-natural system dynamics and cultural influences on environmental decision making. He received his MS in Biology from West Virginia University in 2012 for delineating temporal dynamics of ecological recovery of surface coal mines in Appalachia and BS in Chemistry from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

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.

I am a visiting graduate student from Spain, studying global public opinion on the environment.

Amanda is a second year PhD student in the Geography Graduate Group, Trainee in the NSF Climate Change, Water and Society IGERT studying climate change adaptation decision-making and drought vulnerability, and an NSF Graduate Research Fellow.  From 2007-2013 she was a Staff Scientist at the US Center of the Stockholm Environment Institute 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 student of Tufts University. 

April Jean is a graduate student in the hydrological science program and a CCWAS IGERT student who studies regional climate change adaptation associated with water resource policy and management. Her undergraduate work focused on Environmental Science, studying entomology and how phylogenetic analysis of subterranean species can be incorporated into groundwater modeling, as well as several water quality related studies. April Jean received her MS in Earth and Planetary Science from the University of New Mexico where she was an NSF LSAMPBD fellow. Her research examined paleoclimate and paleohydrology records in travertine systems in arid regions including the southwestern United States, Australia and Egypt.

Madeline is a first year doctoral student in Ecology.


Paul Sabatier passed away in 2013, but we still consider his legacy as a important founding element of CEPB. Paul is most famous for his development of the "Advocacy Coalition Framework", along with an unrelenting devotion to high quality scientific research and standards. His research addressed the following topics: Analysis of factors affecting change in public policy over a period of several decades; the role of scientific information in that process; policy implementation; belief systems of policy elites; land use and air pollution policy in the U.S. and western Europe; water quality at San Francisco Bay and Lake Tahoe; factors affecting the success of multi-stakeholder watershed partnerships; and the application of multiple theories (particularly the Advocacy Coalition Framework) to this question.

Matthew directs the Lodi Winegrape Commission’s viticulture research projects, grower outreach programs, and the Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing certification program. He came to the Commission in 2012 after earning a PhD under Mark Lubell. While at Davis he worked on the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior's sustainable viticulture project. His dissertation research focused on the effectiveness of agricultural extension programs and sustainability certification programs in California viticulture. In his current position at the Commission Matthew collaborates with university researchers and Lodi growers to implement applied research projects with the aim of developing practical solutions to real-world viticulture challenges.

I am interested in balancing conservation goals and agricultural production needs, and determining how on-farm management practices influence ecosystem processes. My current fieldwork in Costa Rica explores provision of ecosystem services in tropical farming systems. Other projects include research on conceptual frameworks used in ecosystem assessment and environmental mitigation in California. Before entering the Ecology program at UC Davis, I studied anthropology at Loyola University Chicago and worked with non-profit groups in Chile, Argentina, and San Francisco. Kelly is now an assistant professor at Loyola University

Bethany completed her graduate work at Arizona State University. There, she was involved in the Decision Center for a Desert City. At UC Davis, she worked on the Rangelands Decision-Making project, which asks how social networks, institutions, scientific information, and econonic priorities shape grazing practices and ecosystem services. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Meredith received her Ph.D. in Ecology in 2014. She is now a post-doctoral fellow in sustainability science at Harvard University. As a graduate student, she was a NSF IGERT Trainee, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and Switzer Foundation Fellow. She studies environmental behavior focused on farmer perceptions of climate change and adoption of mitigation and adaptation techniques in New Zealand and California. Meredith holds a B.A. in political science from The Catholic University of America where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She previously worked in Washington D.C as the director of a climate change and agriculture campaign and as the Public Affairs Coordinator on the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief at the US State Department. She served as a member of the Climate Action Reserve's nutrient management offset workgroup, UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute board member, and on the executive committee of the Russell Ranch Agricultural Research Center. Meredith was the Director of Legislative Affairs for the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students and the External Chair for the UC Davis Graduate Student Association.

Scott is a grad student in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, where he studies development, labor and public economics. His dissertation focuses on the role of networks in the diffusion of a biofortied crop, the orange-fleshed sweet potato, in Uganda.

Ofelia was an international visiting Scholar from Mexico during 2012. Her research interests focuses on business environmental performance and environmental policies. She is currently working on her PhD dissertation research, which analyzes Mexican environmental policies and how the national commercial chambers may influence their outcomes. In order to deepen the understanding of environmental management and interest groups in Mexico, she analyzes two particular cases: the National Environmental Audit Program and the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register.


Dave is a staff researcher at the Information Center for the Environment, UC Davis. His research includes scientific data management and biodiversity informatics, with an emphasis on long-term ecological datasets.

Carlos is a programmer for the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior.

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