Sally Thompson

Are you interested in joining our group as a graduate student or postdoctoral scholar?  Before you email me, please read the Letter to Prospective Group Members.  You can get a flavor of what our lab members are up to with their research, where our alumni now work and what they do, by reading below.  Also check out our publications!



Michaella Chung (Systems Engineering)


Michaella's PhD focuses on developing new observational platforms to monitor spatially dispersed watershed data, focusing on fog water inputs to coastal watersheds and thermal variations in surface water bodies.  Much of her work uses unmanned aerial systems and explores how remote sensing and water sampling from these systems can be integrated to supplement or replace traditional observational approaches.







Katya Rakhmatulina (Systems Engineering)

Kayta_0.pngKatya Rakhmatulina is a PhD student working in Illilouette Creek Basin in Yosemite National Park and Sugarloaf Creek Basin in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. She is studying the role of unsuppressed fires, within the context of changing climate, on hydrology and vegetation of the mountainous watersheds in the Sierra Nevada. The results of her research will aide in making important fire management decisions with the goal of minimizing catastrophic fires, promoting landscape diversity, and increasing water yield.







Ming Zhang


Ming's PhD focuses on how to infer catchment irrigation practice by incorporating observations of perturbations in natural streamflow regimes into existing remotely sensed techniques. In doing so, she hopes to sharpen our estimates of irrigation in data-scare regions and to gain insight into the interaction between irrigation choices (regarding water sources, scheduling and technology) and environmental sustainability. 





Liya Weldegebriel


Liya Weldegebriel's PhD work focuses on how multiple catchment management projects (as implemented via watershed development or ecosystem services payment policies) might scale from local to basin-level.  The goal is to understand how the marginal benefit of watershed services might vary with increasing investment, with the hope of better informing the design of watershed management projects.  Liya is also intrigued by how accounting for multiple criteria (e.g. equity as well as efficiency) might influence the design of such projects.  Her efforts focus on a case study in the Lake Tana Basin in Ethiopia. 






Octavia Crompton (EPS, joint with Inez Fung)



Octavia is working on a collaborative project between Berkeley and the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO) and Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) in Israel, which aims to use observations of vegetation spatial distributions in drylands to rapidly assess the vulnerability of arid ecosystems to degradation.  Octavia is working on model development, which will be tested against rain tray and field tracer experiments to determine if patterns of connectivity between bare ground and vegetated sites can be reasonably assessed using current theories.  






George Greer



George Greer's research aims to improve prediction of habitat for fish such as salmon and steelhead trout which depend upon summer cold water refugia for rearing their young and survival.  George is particularly interested in the habitat created when cold water tributaries enter larger, but warmer streams.  He studies the mixing and dynamics of these confluences, and the situations in which the extent of the habitat created can and cannot be predicted using simple scaling models.  His work takes the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory as a case study site (





Jeannie Wilkening



Jeannie Wilkening is the newest member of the lab!  She joins us after completing a muddy masters project (pictured!) at Cambridge in the UK, as a Churchill Fellow.  She's excited to get her teeth into ecohydrology and will likely keep getting muddy at Pepperwood Preserve in Sonoma county, exploring lithological controls on plant drought responses with colleagues in the Integrative Biology department.  








Gopal Penny

Gopal PennyGopal Penny's research attempts to reconstruct the human-induced changes in the hydrology of the Arkavathy River Basin, near the city of Bangalore in Karnataka, India. Flows in the Arkavathy have been reduced dramatically since the 1970s, and now the major reservoirs on the river (which were constructed to provide water supplies to Banaglore) operate at less than 20% of their capacity.  Gopal is interested in leveraging multiple techniques and observation platforms to enable inferences to be drawn in this data-scarce region.  He uses satellite observations to reconstruct the history of surface water availability in the Arkavathy Basin, based on the water stored in the traditional water harvesting system - the "cascading tank system" throughout the basin.  He is also using a suite of field methods to determine how runoff is produced in the basin today, and river network modeling to determine how the policy of check-dam construction in the river network alters water delivery to the reservoirs.  Gopal is lecturing CE 103 during Fall 2017, and will assume a postdoctoral position at Notre Dame in January 2018.





Xue Feng

tree5_0.jpgXue's postdoctoral research aimed to better integrate ecophysiology and ecohydrology by introducing more detailed representations of plant traits into ecohydrological models.  She addressed the implications of these traits on controlling plant water stress and transpiration outcomes, and opportunities to improve classification of plant drought responses.  Xue leaves our group to take up an Assistant Professorship at the University of Minnesota (





Morgan Levy (ERG)


Morgan's PhD tackled the interface of data science and hydrology with the goal of quantifying the effects of agricultural intensification on flow production and surface water and energy balances in the critical Cerrado-Amazon transition region of Brazil.  Land use intensification in this region occurred dramatically in the past 15 years, allowing its effects to be captured by remote sensing.  Morgan graduated in 2016, and now works as a postdoctoral scholar with Prof. Justin Remais in the UC Berkeley Department of Public Health, where she studies the influence of hydrological variation on disease.  Learn more about her work at

Gabrielle Boisramé

Gabrielle Boisrame  graduated in 2016 and now works for the Delta Stewardship Council

Gabrielle Boisramé is a PhD student from Winters, California.  Her PhD work addressed a unique experiment conducted in the Illilouette Creek Basin in Yosemite National Park where a natural fire regime has been allowed to establish since 1974 (fires are routinely suppressed in almost all other forests in California).  Gabrielle used a combination of remote sensing data, field observations and ecohydrological modeling to characterize how fire has changed the vegetation structure and hydrology of the Illilouette Creek Basin.  She graduated in 2016, completed a postdoctoral position with Prof. Scott Stephens in the Fire Ecology Laboratory in UC Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, and now works for the Delta Stewardship council.

Lissa MacVean

Lissa MacVean's postdoctoral research focused on building a simple hydrological model to represent anthropogenic change in the California Delta and its watersheds from 1850-1920 -- a period of rapid land use and hydraulic change, but prior to the instrumented record.  She now works for the San Francisco Estuary Institute (

David Dralle

David's PhD research focused on the development of theory to describe water availability during summer months in seasonally dry climates such as those in California.  He graduated in 2015 and now works as a postdoctoral scholar on the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory Project (  He is engaged in basin-scale modeling of hydrology and in-stream thermal dynamics, and interpretation of storage dynamics across contrasting lithologies.  When not engaged in modeling, mathematical analysis or field work, he's usually tinkering with unmanned aerial vehicles, web-platforms to disseminate his science, or other technologically impressive do-dads.

Marc Muller

Marc Muller

Marc Muller's PhD work focused on the use of satellite and GIS information to quantify hydrologic variability in ungauged basins.  He has focused on a case study of mountain watersheds in Nepal, where this variability determines the feasibility of integrating microhydropower systems into rural water and power infrastructure into rural communities.  Marc's long term interests lie in valuing hydrological information (particularly derived from remote sensing platforms) and integrating this information into decision-making to support the development and improvement of water infrastructure.  He graduated in 2015, completed a postdoctoral position at Stanford University with Prof. Steve Gorelick and is now a faculty member in the College of Engineering at Notre Dame University (

Alan Vaz Lopes (joint with John Dracup)

Alan vaz Lopez

Alan's PhD research focused on the coupled dynamics of atmospheric and hydrologic systems during drought events.  He uses remote sensing and ground-based measurements combined with mathematical models to explain how physical mechanisms and feedbacks determine the intensity and duration of droughts.  His interests also include water management and allocation, water resources systems and optimization methods. He graduated in 2014 and now works at the Brazilian National Water Agency (ANA).