Hi! I am a PhD candidate in Ecology at UC Davis, specializing in environmental governance and computational social science. My research seeks to improve our understanding of power asymmetries among actors, and how it shapes institutional change and policy implementation as new institutions are deliberated and co-created. To do this, I combine participant observation, in-depth interviews, ethnographic methods, as well as survey, archival and network analysis.
For my dissertation, I am studying how inequality and power asymmetries among organizations and people shape the implementation of groundwater management reform in California. Previously, I studied South Africa's monumental land and water reform in its effort to address apartheid's heritage of inequality.
I enjoy teaching, mentoring and serve in various committees to improve diversity and access to higher education at UC Davis. I have been awarded various prestigious scholarships which have supported my education in the U.S. and Europe, including the National Science Foundation GRFP & CCWAS IGERT (at UC Davis), European Commission AGRIS MUNDUS (at Wageningen University and Montpellier SupAgro), among others. I hold two masters degree, one on Water Management from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the other on Agricultural Policy from Montpellier SupAgro in France, and I also have advocacy experience in California working with the Environmental Defense Fund. When I am not working, you can find me in my garden, outdoors swimming and running, or climbing mountains.
- MacLeod, C., & Méndez-Barrientos, L. E. (2019). Groundwater Management in California’s Central Valley: A Focus on Disadvantaged Communities. Case Studies in the Environment.
- Méndez-Barrientos, L. E., Kemerink, J. S., Wester, P., & Molle, F. (2018). Commercial farmers’ strategies to control water resources in South Africa: an empirical view of reform. International Journal of Water Resources Development, 34(2), 245-258.
- Rudnick, J., DeVincentis, A., & Méndez-Barrientos, L. (2016). The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act challenges the diversity of California farms. California Agriculture, 70(4), 169-173.
- Kemerink, J. S., Méndez, L. E., Ahlers, R., Wester, P., & van der Zaag, P. (2012). The question of inclusion and representation in rural South Africa: challenging the concept of water user associations as a vehicle for transformation. Water Policy, 15(2), 243-257.
- Méndez-Barrientos, L.E., Rudnick, J., DeVincentis, A., Dahlquist-Willard, R., Lowry, B. & Gould, K. (submitted). Drought as a Driver of Change? Farmer participation in groundwater management in California.
- Méndez-Barrientos, L.E. (working paper). A Systematic Review of Power in Collaborative Environmental Governance.
- Méndez-Barrientos, L.E., Lubell, M. (working paper). Weathering Change: An empirical view on the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in California
- Méndez-Barrientos, L.E., Lubell, M. (working paper). The Influence of Power Asymmetries in Collaborative Governance Processes.
- Méndez-Barrientos, L.E., Vera Coelho, H. (working paper). Rol y producción de análisis científico como mecanismo de legitimación en la resistencia y defensa de derechos humanos en conflictos socio-ambientales. El caso del proyecto Hidrotambo en Ecuador.
- Méndez-Barrientos, L.E., Vera Coelho, H. (working paper). Counter strategies of resistance for environmental justice. Lessons learned from the case of Hidrotambo, Ecuador.
- Méndez-Barrientos, L.E., Bostic, D., & Lubell, M. (2019). Implementing SGMA. Results from a stakeholder suryey. Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior, University of California Davis.
- Lubell, M., Beutler, L., Méndez-Barrientos, L.E., Dobbin, K., Rudnick, J., Struthers, C.L., Johnson, M., & Maxson, S. (2018). The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act Governance Conference: Research and Practice. Synthesis Report 2018.
- Langridge, R., Sepaniak, S., Fencl, A., & Méndez-Barrientos, L.E. (2018). Management of Groundwater and Drought Under Climate Change. A Report for California’s Fourth Climate Assessment. http://www.climateassessment.ca.gov/techreports/docs/20180827-Water_CCCA4-EXT-2018-006.pdf.