Inspired by interdisciplinary collaboration, my research blends theoretical and empirical economic modeling to inform water policy and water management discussions. My current work relates to the changing regulatory structure of groundwater in California, and to the potential for groundwater markets. My research compares the economic impacts of different policy instruments for managing water. I am also looking at the role that water markets can play in adaptation to climate change.


“What Does the 2018 Farm Bill Mean for California and the Environment? Spotlight on the Conservation Programs” 2019. With David Zilberman. ARE Update 22.3: 6-8. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.

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

“Climate Change and California’s Water Supply: How Can We Adapt?” 2018. With Katrina Jessoe. ARE Update 22.1: 1-3. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.

“The Economic Impacts of Agricultural Groundwater Markets.” 2018. ARE Update 21.6: 9-11. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.

“California’s New Groundwater Law and the Implications for Groundwater Markets.” 2017. ARE Update 20.4:1-4. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics.

“Coping with Future Water Woes in the Western United States” 2015. EOS 96.

Working Papers

The Gains from Agricultural Groundwater Trade and the Potential for Market Power: Theory and Application” (with Richard J. Sexton)

Abstract: This paper models and estimates the efficiency gains from using market-based instruments relative to command and control to manage groundwater. A theoretical model of an imperfectly competitive groundwater market is developed to show how the magnitude and distribution of the gains from trade change as market structure varies. Market structure is a key consideration because future groundwater markets will likely feature geographic limitations to trade, large agricultural players, and a legal environment that is conducive to forming cartel-like coalitions. Application of the model to a groundwater-dependent agricultural region in southern California shows the existence of large gains from trade, despite the potential for market power. Distributional impacts, however, can be sizable even for small degrees of market power. Simulations that vary market conditions show that results likely generalize to other groundwater basins.

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 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.