Research Opportunities

The Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE), Berkeley Law environmental and energy law faculty, and other members of the Berkeley environmental community frequently recruit graduate students to assist with ongoing research.  Research can often be done for pay (GSRs), for academic credit (297 or 298), or as pro bono hours.  

Please contact us if you have a particular research interest.  Open positions will be posted here periodically, including details about the type of research involved and the application process.


— Open Positions —


Administrative, Environmental, and Energy Law

Eric Biber

Professor Eric Biber is looking to hire research assistants for the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. RAs can work on a range of projects in administrative, environmental, and energy law, including but not limited to: (1) policy responses to fire risks on public and private lands in California and the West; (2) a survey and analysis of the California Endangered Species Act and how to reform it to make it more effective; (3) research on whether competition among states for business adversely affects state environmental laws and enforcement; (4) designing environmental laws and regulations to make them resilient to changes in political outcomes; (5) research on local and state land-use regulation in California and its impacts on housing production and costs; (6) research on the environmental regulations being developed by California for the state’s newly legalized marijuana industry; and (7) research on the optimal sequencing of climate policy to facilitate aggressive and resilient policy responses to climate change . RAs will have some choice as to which projects they will work on. 

RAs can work for credit (as a 297 class). Commitments are expected to be between 5-10 hours/week. Students can receive 297 credit (1 credit for every 4 hours/week of work). Prior experience or coursework in environmental law is preferred, but not required. 

Please contact Professor Eric Biber if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).


California Climate Research

Fan Dai

The California-China Climate Institute is looking to hire three research assistants for fall 2020 for policy research on the following topics:

  • California’s 2045 Carbon Neutral Goal and Policies
  • Low-carbon transportation and zero emission vehicles
  • Carbon pricing
  • Climate adaptation and resilience
  • Sustainable land use and climate-smart agriculture
  • Carbon capture and storage

The position will involve 4-8 hours of work per week. Students can receive 297 credit (1 credit for every 4 hours/week of work) or pay. Prior experience or coursework in environmental law and/or policy is preferred, but not required.

Please contact Fan Dai if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).


Extending Transfer Development Rights to Environmental Enhancement

Ken Alex

Traditional transfer development rights allow the transfer of the right to develop on land that a jurisdiction wants to retain as undeveloped to a different location in the form of a development bonus (for a fee). How can we best extend this concept to create credits for landowners who affirmatively enhance the environmental benefits of their land that can be transferred to infill developers who would receive development bonuses? We are working with the City of San Jose to create such a system. It raises some legal issues that I want to explore.

Research can be completed for pay (GSR) or for 297 credit (1 credit = 4 hrs/wk).

Please contact Ken Alex if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).


Making and Using Disaster and Emergency Declarations

Dan Farber and Jordan Diamond

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of storms, altering drought and flood patterns, causing rising seas, and increasing risks of infectious diseases, among other things. Although we can’t say when they will occur, models and forecasts show us that disasters and emergencies are becoming increasingly common. The legal framework for declaring to disasters, however, is based on outdated context, and the confines of what authorities are then unlocked is often unclear. We are looking for research assistants to help us review past declarations of disasters and emergencies, at both the federal and state level, and analyze their context and effect.

Position is paid, and would involve 4-8 hours per week. 

Please contact Jordan Diamond if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).


Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Promoting Environmental Justice

Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger, LLP

Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger, LLP, a San Francisco law firm representing community groups and public agencies in environmental, land use, and municipal law matters, funds one semester-long, student-led research project each academic year. To qualify, the project must investigate existing or cutting edge legal or policy tools at the California local/regional level aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Preference will be given to proposals that simultaneously address the promotion of environmental justice in disproportionally impacted communities. The application must propose a final work product, which may include a white paper, detailed research summary, and/or presentation (accompanied by written materials) in a relevant classroom or other academic setting.

Prior environmental law course experience is preferred. Position is paid, and would involve 4-6 hours per week. 

Please contact Jordan Diamond if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief description of proposed project).


Reversing Trump Rollbacks

Ken Alex

We are evaluating strategies to rescind Trump’s environmental rollbacks. We will be looking in some detail at some that may be more difficult to rescind and evaluating the implications of different approaches.

Research can be completed for pay (GSR) or for 297 credit (1 credit = 4 hrs/wk).

Please contact Ken Alex if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).


Law 298 Group Project (Spring 2021)
Environmental Justice and COVID-19: Addressing Disproportionate Risks and Impacts in a Changing Climate

Ted Lamm and Nell Green Nylen

The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting environmentally and socio-economically disadvantaged communities.  But the broader connections between COVID-19 and environmental justice are only just emerging.  These connections—spanning public health, employment, education, housing, transportation, and the structure of urban spaces—are revealing critical policy needs in a changed (and changing) world.  At the same time, our experience with COVID-19 is highlighting the extent to which climate change will exacerbate existing vulnerabilities to pandemics and the need for resilience and adaptation frameworks that proactively address inequities.

Students in this group project will research these connections and their associated policy implications.  Law, policy, and public health students will work collaboratively to prepare a suite of analyses of high priority law, policy, and information needs at the intersection of environmental justice, environmental health, and COVID-19.  Anticipated student work product may include recommendations for cross-cutting legislation to address the multiple crises; proposals for regulatory actions to better integrate environmental justice and environmental health needs in long-term planning; plans for dynamic mapping and data analysis resources to support future policy development; and/or proposals for increasing resilience to future climate-linked pandemics.

Credits: 1 unit
Meeting times: Mondays 4 – 5 PM

Please contact Ted Lamm and Nell Green Nylen if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, writing sample of your choice, and a brief statement of interest).


— Closed Positions —


Digital Economy & the Environment

Jordan Diamond

The rapid adoption and acceleration of the use of digital technologies is transforming the way we access and process information and live our daily lives, impacting the global economy and our social dynamics. These dramatic technological and social changes also have important environmental and energy implications. This initiative focuses on stimulating technical and policy research focused on ensuring maximum environmental and social benefit and minimal harm (e.g., increasing environmental footprint, algorithmic bias, etc) in conjunction with these new platforms. This fall, the GSR will focus on identifying and analyzing cutting-edge research and helping foment cross-disciplinary conversation and collaboration.

Students can receive 297 credit (1 credit for every 4 hours/week of work), or pay.

Please contact Jordan Diamond if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).


Offshore Wind

Jordan Diamond

CLEE’s Ocean Program is working to ensure the nascent California offshore wind industry is sustainable and equitable. The industry is still being proposed and is not yet entrenched, providing an opportunity to implement holistic and inclusive planning processes. We are looking for a student to assist with a convening, stakeholder survey, and summary report that discusses the key opportunities, concerns, and challenges associated with offshore wind in California.

Students can receive 297 credit (1 credit for every 4 hours/week of work), or pay.

Please contact Jordan Diamond if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).


ClimateBreak – Business Plan Development

Ethan Elkind

CLEE is seeking to hire a Business School grad student to help design a marketing plan for a UC Berkeley-based climate change solutions radio program, podcast, and website called Climate Break.  The program (which features 90 second radio spots on climate solutions twice a week) is in start-up mode.  We need help developing a plan for outreach and marketing to radio stations, on social media, in podcast format, and for the website, as well as to market to UC Berkeley students.

The position will be about six hours a week, and is available for pay.

Please contact Ethan Elkind if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).


ClimateBreak – Podcast Production

Ethan Elkind

CLEE is seeking to hire Journalism School students to help produce a UC Berkeley-based radio show and podcast for a climate change solutions radio program, podcast, and website called Climate Break. The program (which features 90 second radio spots on climate solutions twice a week) is in start-up mode. Students can participate in all aspects of program and podcast development and production, including topic selection, script writing, and audio editing.

The position will be about six hours a week, and is available for pay.

Please contact Ethan Elkind if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).


ClimateBreak – Climate Solutions Legal Research

Ethan Elkind

CLEE is seeking to hire a law student to help develop content for a UC Berkeley-based climate change solutions radio program, podcast, and website called Climate Break.  The program (which features 90 second radio spots on climate solutions twice a week) is in start-up mode. We need substantive content and research on climate solutions and some legal research for climate solutions that are legal in nature or face legal challenge (for example, using Clean Air Act section 115 to set emission standards). 

Students can receive 297 credit (1 credit for every 4 hours/week of work), or pay.

Please contact Ethan Elkind if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).


Fall Research Assistant – Reparations

Claudia Polsky

Professor Claudia Polsky seeks a fall research assistant who is available 6 hours per week to assist with research on reparations in theory and practice, viewed through the lenses of both racial and environmental justice. The research will inform teaching/presentations/writing on reparations-related topics, including reparations for land and natural resource dispossession of Native Americans, and of Black farmers. Students interested in racial and environmental justice, indigenous rights, and food security would be well suited for this project. 

Please contact Professor Polsky directly by August 21 if interested. 

 
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