New Faces

February 19, 2016 | Water in the West | Insights

Janny Choy, Research Analyst, Water in the West

We are excited to welcome three talented new postdoctoral scholars to Water in the West: Esther Conrad, Ben Bryant, and Sibyl Diver. Since arriving in September of 2015, Esther, who is also with Stanford Law School’s Gould Center for Conflict Resolution, has jumped right into two timely studies: one examining groundwater adjudications and other local groundwater management arrangements in California, and another looking at factors that influence collective learning among stakeholders involved in forming new governance structures under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  Ben, in a partnership with The Natural Capital Project, will be working on assessing and improving the ability of science and economics to support the deployment of innovative financial mechanisms to support watershed health. Two potential contexts he will be exploring include watershed restoration through forest undergrowth thinning to reduce fire severity and improve water deliveries, and investing in changes in various agricultural practices to enhance revenues and reduce water use.  Sibyl, who is a postdoctoral scholar with Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences, will be working with Water in the West to study tribal participation in SGMA. This emerging work to assess tribes’ roles in California’s new groundwater management framework builds on her past work with indigenous groups and Pacific Northwest salmon watersheds.


Esther Conrad is a postdoctoral fellow at Water in the West and Stanford Law School’s Gould Center for Conflict Resolution. 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 the 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 at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and at the United Nations Development Programme. 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.


Ben Bryant is an economist and decision support modeler with a joint affiliation between Water in the West and the Natural Capital Project (NatCap). At Water in the West, his focus is on assessing and improving the ability of science and economics to support the deployment of innovative financial mechanisms for watershed health. At NatCap, his current work involves incorporating agricultural and livelihood considerations into landscape optimization, and developing and demonstrating tools and guidance to improve the treatment of uncertainty in ecosystem service modeling. Ben earned a PhD in Policy Analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School at the RAND Corporation where he completed a dissertation modeling efficiency and equity tradeoffs in groundwater markets. He also holds a BS in mathematics from Harvey Mudd College, with significant coursework in engineering as well as political and ethical philosophy. Immediately prior to joining the Woods Institute at Stanford, he was a country economist conducting cost-benefit analyses for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US government international development agency.


Sibyl Diver is a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University in the Department of Earth System Science. She studies issues of natural resource governance with Indigenous peoples, with a focus on Pacific Northwest salmon watersheds.  This includes research on co-management (or collaborative management) arrangements between Indigenous communities and state agencies. She received her PhD from Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the College of Natural Resources.  Sibyl completed her undergraduate work at Stanford, earning a dual degree in Human Biology and Russian. Prior to graduate school, Sibyl spent eight years with the non-profit Pacific Environment, supporting Russian grassroots environmental and Indigenous rights organizations to have a voice in natural resource management decisions. Sibyl is an active member of the Karuk-UC Berkeley Collaborative, a group supporting the Karuk Tribe's eco-cultural revitalization strategy in Northern California.


Read more about our team here.