As a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford Law School’s Gould Center for Conflict Resolution, Esther Conrad works closely with the Water in the West Program on research to inform implementation of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Her current projects include a study of groundwater adjudications and other local groundwater management arrangements in California, and an analysis of factors that influence collective learning among stakeholders involved in forming new governance structures for groundwater management under SGMA.
Esther’s research interests include the design and performance of collaborative governance arrangements in the context of natural resource management, climate change adaptation in the water sector, and the use of scientific information in decision-making processes. Her PhD dissertation at University of California Berkeley focused on collective learning in the context of regional-scale collaborative governance within California’s Integrated Regional Water Management process. While at Berkeley, Esther also conducted several studies for the California Department of Water Resources, focusing on how climate change has been addressed in California’s water planning processes. Previously, Esther worked for six years as a Senior Staff Associate at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, managing interdisciplinary projects to support the use of climate and environmental information in water management and agriculture in South and Southeast Asia. She also worked at the United Nations Development Programme, analyzing community-based projects around the world that use renewable energy to support local livelihoods. Esther holds a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California Berkeley, a Masters degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, a Masters degree in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge, and a Bachelor of Sciences in Earth Systems from Stanford University.