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.


— Current Opportunities —


California’s Water Crisis: Preparing for Next Time

Dr. Michael Kiparsky & Dr. Nell Green Nylen

Climate change has already begun to affect California’s hydrology and water resources. Not only is climate change a factor in the current drought, but projections show many future impacts, including changes in the distribution of water year types and increases in the frequency of dry years. In the near future, droughts like the present one may become more frequent, and more intense, occurrences. We are currently working on a project designed to help adapt our state decision-making structures to changing climatic reality. To reduce outcome variability and maximize both predictability and efficacy, California needs a more robust system for water allocation decisions. We are assessing the administrative unpredictability of the current framework and defining a blueprint for reform. The student research component will focus on best practices for contingency-based decision-making related to water allocation.  

  • The work expectation is approximately 4-6 hrs/wk during the semester, with flexibility in when the work is done over the course of the semester.
  • Students can receive 297 credit (1 credit for every 4 hrs/wk) or pay (as a GSR).
  • Please contact Jordan Diamond if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).

The Oceans Are Warming: Efforts to Address a Global Challenge

Jordan Diamond & Prof. Holly Doremus

Climate change is affecting marine ecosystems across the planet, from melting sea ice in the Arctic to changing tropical currents to acidifying waters in the Pacific Northwest. These changes to ocean conditions affect almost all marine living resources and, both directly and indirectly, people. Coastal communities are being forced to relocated in the face of sea level rise, islands are facing the threat of full submersion, fishing communities are being devastated by crashing stocks, and entire populations are being forced to migrate due to moving resources. We are hosting an international workshop in to identify existing governance efforts to mitigate climate impacts on the ocean and adapt to those that cannot be prevented.  The student research will focus on helping us develop the background information documents that will inform workshop participants ahead of time, and potentially attending the symposium itself to act as rapporteur and help prepare a synthesis white paper.

  • The work expectation is approximately 4-6 hrs/wk during the spring, with the potential of continuing work over the summer and/or fall.
  • Students can receive 297 credit (1 credit for every 4 hrs/wk) or pay (as a GSR).
  • Please contact Jordan Diamond if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).

Administrative, Environmental & Energy Law

Prof. Eric Biber

Prof. Biber is looking to hire research assistants for the spring and summer of 2017.  RAs can work on a range of projects in administrative, environmental, and energy law, including but not limited to: (1) different legal and management strategies to address human impacts on global environmental systems (such as climate change); (2) case studies on the law and politics of renewable energy policy in various states and countries; (3) whether state constitutional limits on taxes will prevent the implementation of environmental fees and charges (such as California’s cap-and-trade program); (4) the role of litigation in management of National Forests and responding to fire on National Forests; (5) the role of regulation in facilitating or deterring the rise of the “sharing” economy and distributed energy generation; (6) a survey and analysis of the California Endangered Species Act; (7) research on whether competition among states for business adversely affects state environmental laws and enforcement; and (8) the risks that repeal of statutes like the Endangered Species Act might pose for the extinction of species.  RAs will have some choice as to which projects they will work on.

  • Students can receive 297 credit (1 credit for every 4 hours/week of work) or pay.
  • Prior experience or coursework in environmental law is preferred, but not required. 
  • Please contact Prof. Eric Biber if you have any questions, would like to discuss, or to apply (resume, unofficial transcript, and brief statement of interest).