Academic Programs

Sustainable Water Markets Fellowship Program

The SWM Program
SWM Fellows
Faculty & Staff

Karen Askeland is an environmental scientist at CH2M in San Francisco, where she works on a wide range of water-resources projects, including groundwater-quality management planning, climate-change adaptation, restoration planning, and flood control. Prior to coming to the Bren School, Karen developed strong business skills while working at WaterSmart Software, a San Francisco—based startup that provides water utilities with software and data analytics to help their customers save water. Her responsibilities included municipal contracting, data management, strategic marketing, and business operations. Karen also spent two years at the Environmental Defense Fund, gaining communication experience while focusing on environmental issues in the western U.S. She supported the organization’s Habitat Exchange initiative, a market-based approach to wildlife and land-use conflicts that compensates landowners for creating or maintaining wildlife habitat. Karen holds a BS in environmental science and management with an emphasis in watershed science from UC Davis

Ian Bell is an environmental specialist at the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission, a tribal consortium in California's Sierra Nevada. He works on water pollution investigations and water supply concerns on tribal lands. While at the Bren School, Ian worked on a group project that quantified the impact of the invasive Giant Reed plant on the Santa Clara River near Ventura. Immediately after graduating from Bren, Ian worked in conjunction with SWM-alumni David Gruen on research assessing hydropower proposals in Peru. Prior to graduate school, Ian worked as a stream scientist at an UC aquatics research laboratory, a watershed restoration coordinator for an environmental non-profit, and as a research tech for a US Forest Service research lab. He holds a BA in environmental studies from Whitman College.

Catherine Iantosca is a stewardship technician at the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. Catherine graduated with honors from Sonoma State University in 2013 with a BS in environmental studies and planning, including an emphasis in water-quality technology and a minor in chemistry. As an undergraduate, she gained experience in watershed restoration and storm-water management through internships with the Sonoma Resource Conservation District and the City of Santa Rosa’s Storm Water and Creeks program. Catherine assisted in planning, implementing, and monitoring creek-restoration projects and developed outreach materials to prevent urban storm-water pollution and increase awareness of local watersheds. After graduating, she sought an internship with the Sonoma County Water Agency’s Water-Use Efficiency program to develop a better understanding of urban water-use demands and ways to curb them.

Martin Merz is an ORISE Participant at the Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle. He works on projects related to river temperature and salmon migration with the Watershed Unit, and on sampling schedules and sanitary surveys in the Tribal Drinking Water Unit. Prior to this, he worked as a contract consultant for Western Water Futures LLC in Seattle, where he researched recent water management legislation in western states. During his time at Bren he was a research assistant to Dr. Gary Libecap, where he supported a multi-campus, interdisciplinary research project related to groundwater markets in California. For the 2015 summer he was an intern for American Rivers in Seattle, researching the market components of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan. Martin holds a BA in Environmental Studies and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Rachel O’Connor is a research associate at AMP Insights, a consulting firm working on innovative projects for western water resources management, including water markets and cost-effective environmental flow strategies. While at the Bren School and after, Rachel worked with the freshwater team at the Texas Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, researching candidate water rights for environmental flow transaction projects and developing an aquatic resources management program for TNC Texas preserves. Her experience in the wate- resources sector also includes water conservation in Southern California while working with the Goleta Water District on a turf-removal rebate program. Previously she worked as a seasonal field hydrologist with the U.S. Forest Service in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado. Rachel has a BA in geography from the State University of New York at Geneseo. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

David Gruen works as a water market fellow with the WaterNow Alliance, a non-profit working to catalyze sustainable urban water management through its network of water agency board members. Prior to attending Bren, he worked for over two years at WaterSmart Software, a San-Francisco startup that partners with water utilities to help residential customers reduce their use through data analytics and effective communication strategies based on behavioral science. For his yearlong group Master’s research project, David and five colleagues helped to create a market-based solution to water management in Montana on behalf of their clients, The Nature Conservancy and Trout Unlimited. The team designed a groundwater mitigation bank to offset streamflow depletions in the Gallatin River from new groundwater withdrawals. After graduating, David traveled to Peru on behalf of the Walton Family Foundation. There, along with his partner Ian Bell, David evaluated the threat to the Marañón River— the principal hydrologic source of the Amazon River— from more than twenty planned hydroelectric dams and identified philanthropic opportunities to oppose dam construction and develop an equivalent amount of power from alterative renewable energy sources. David holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan’s Program in the Environment.