Inspired by interdisciplinary collaboration, my research blends theoretical and empirical economic modeling to inform policy discussions on issues relevant to California’s agriculture and natural resources. In particular, my research compares the economic impacts of different policy instruments for managing water. My current work relates to the changing regulatory structure of groundwater in California, the potential for groundwater markets, and the role that water prices can play in agricultural adaptation to climate change.


Ellen M. Bruno and Richard J. Sexton. (2020). “The Gains from Agricultural Groundwater Trade and the Potential for Market Power: Theory and ApplicationAmerican Journal of Agricultural Economics, forthcoming.

Alyssa J. DeVincentis, Sam Sandoval Solis, Ellen M. Bruno, Amber Leavitt, Anna Gomes, Sloane Rice, and Daniele Zaccaria. (2020). “Using Cost-Benefit Analysis to Understand Adoption of Winter Cover Cropping in California’s Specialty Crop Systems.” Journal of Environmental Management, forthcoming.

Tina L. Saitone and Ellen M. Bruno. (2020). “Cost Effectiveness of Livestock Guardian Dogs for Predator Control.Wildlife Society Bulletin 44.1: 101-109.

Stephen Maples, Ellen M. Bruno, Alejo Kraus-Polk, Stacy Roberts, and Lauren Foster. (2018). “Leveraging Hydrologic Accounting and Water Markets for Improved Water Management: The Case for a Central Clearinghouse.” Water 10.12: 1720.

Working Papers

Water Markets and Climate Change Adaptation: Micro-level Evidence on Agricultural Water Demand” (with Katrina Jessoe)

Abstract: This paper demonstrates that water markets may substantially mitigate the costs of climate change. We develop an analytical framework to quantify the efficiency gains from water trading across agricultural and urban users. Critical to this exercise are credible estimates of the price elasticity for agricultural water. We use well-level panel data on agricultural groundwater extraction in an area with volumetric groundwater prices to estimate demand. Demand is inelastic, with estimates ranging from -0.12 to -0.2. Our simulation suggests that relative to a uniform standard, trading can mitigate the costs from water supply reductions of up to 20% by over 45%.

Grants & Awards

2019 Award for Most Downloaded Article in the 2018-2019 Issue of ARE Update

2019 Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award, Agricultural & Applied Economics Association

2019 Gordon A. King award for Best Dissertation, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis.

2018 Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics Grant
“The Economics of Groundwater Quality in California Agriculture”

2017 – 2018 UC Water Challenge Grant
“Sustainable Groundwater in California: Managing Water Use with Economic Instruments” (with Katrina K. Jessoe, Richard J. Sexton, and W. Michael Hanemann)

2017 Award for Most Downloads of an Article in the 2016-2017 Issue of ARE Update

2017 Outstanding Graduate Paper Award, Western Agricultural Economics Association

2017 Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics Grant
“Managing Agricultural Water Use for Sustainable Groundwater in California” (with Katrina K. Jessoe and Richard J. Sexton)

2017 Giannini Foundation Agricultural Economics Graduate Student Fellowship

2014 – 2016 National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education & Research Traineeship in Climate Change, Water, and Society

2013 Joel Dean Award for Excellence in Management Science, UC San Diego

Photograph of rice fields by Olena Sambucci.