Melissa M. Rohde


M.S. Environmental Engineering (2011 - 2014)
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Stanford University

M.Sc. (Distinction) Water Science, Policy and Management (2008 - 2009)
School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford

B.Sc. (Honors) Biology & Oceanography (2003 - 2007)
Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of British Columbia

Work Experience

The Nature Conservancy of California, USA
Groundwater Scientist (January 2016 - Present)
- Conducting scientific research to inform decision making and implementation of California's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
- Engaging with local and statewide partners to develop new approaches that ensure benefits to nature and can advance statewide sustainable groundwater management implementation. 

Resources Legacy Fund (California Water Foundation), USA
Independent Contractor (March 2015 - December 2015)
-     Conducted research and wrote a policy brief describing how investments in groundwater storage compare with new surface water storage towards achieving public benefits associated with the implementation and allocation of the $2.7 billion water storage funds provided under the 2014 water bond (Proposition 1)
-     Wrote a Request for Proposal to solicit graphic design firms to partner on infographic work
-     Partnered with Column Five, a graphics design firm, to create a supporting infographic for the policy brief

Water in the West, Stanford University, USA
Researcher (February 2013  – December 2015)
-     Researched various topics related to groundwater in California as part of designing an online series to communicate the impacts of groundwater overdraft to policy makers in California
-     Reviewed and extracted data from 112 applications submitted to the Department of Water Resources for Proposition 13, Proposition 50, Proposition 1E, and Proposition 84 funds
-     Analyzed the benefits and economic costs of groundwater recharge projects across California
-     Synthesized research and published reports to inform policy makers and the public
-     Coordinated with state and local agencies to acquire data

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, USA
Graduate Student Researcher (2011-2014)
-     Developed a simple, cost-effective hydrogeologic tool that measures groundwater recharge at an individual well
-     Collected empirical data in the field and the laboratory
-     Modeled a watershed water balance
-     Estimated irrigation rates by processing Landsat imagery in ENVI and ArcGIS
-     Used a statistical model to compare hydrologic methods that estimate annual rates of groundwater recharge
-     Wrote grant proposals and successfully received $24,000 to support research expenses
-     Managed logistics in the field
-     Maintained international partnerships with local NGOs (Wells for India and Sahyog Sansthan)
-     Published results in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented results at conferences

School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK
Graduate Student Researcher (2009-2010)
-     Developed and implemented a community-led program to monitor groundwater in a rural watershed in India
-     Managed logistics in the field
-     Partnered with local NGOs (Wells for India and Sahyog Sansthan) and the Indian National Institute for Hydrology
-     Analyzed groundwater samples in the laboratory for chemical tracers
-     Estimated groundwater recharge at 100 well sites

University of Oxford, New Delhi, India
Research Associate (February 2011- May 2011)
-     Conducted 45 interviews with Indian Members of Parliament on various socio-political issues.

United States Antarctic Program, Allen Hills, Antarctica
Research Grantee (November 2010 – January 2011)
-     Assisted in field logistics at a remote field camp in Antarctica for 5 weeks
-     Assisted with drilling operations to collect ice core samples in Allen Hills with Princeton University and the University of Maine
-     Ice core samples collected are being used to reconstruct and hopefully extend the climate record to 2.5 million years before present

Department of Geosciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Research Technician (September 2009-May 2010)    
-     Maintained an isotopic geochemical laboratory used for environmental research
-     Trained scientists how to use scientific equipment

Land Development Division, Coler & Colantonio, Inc., Norwell, MA, USA
Intern (July-September 2008)
-     Assisted in the preparation of Environmental Impact Reports for clients
-     Prepared maps using AutoCAD and ArcGIS
-     Delineated wetlands and tracked threatened species

Department of Environmental and Biomolecular Systems, Oregon Health & Science University, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
Research Assistant II (May–June 2008)  
-     Conducted research along the Columbia River Estuary Coastal
-     Assisted with collecting water samples
-     Conducted an on-board productivity survey to correlate biological and physical parameters

Inst. for Environmental Geosciences, Universität Basel, Switzerland
Research Technician (November 2007 - April 2008)    
-     Contract management position to set-up and maintain an isotope biogeochemical laboratory.
-     Establish the Denitrifier Method introduced at Princeton University and operated scientific equipment
-     Analyzed various water samples for stable isotopes
-     Dataset produced for publication in Frontiers in Marine Science

Surveying Engineering Division, Coler & Colantonio Inc., Norwell, MA, USA
Surveying Technician (September - October 2007)
-     Assisted in collecting sub-millimeter measurements to monitor dam movement on a deformation survey in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences, UBC, Vancouver, Canada
Secretary Assistant (2006-2007)
-     Processed Graduate Student applications to the Earth and Ocean Sciences Department at UBC as a work-study student. 
-     Assisted in other various office tasks, which fostered organizational and time management skills. 

Juneau Icefield Research Program, Glaciological and Arctic Sciences, University of Southeast Alaska & University of Idaho, USA
Research Participant (July - August 2007)
-     Participated, with scholarship, in an 8-week glaciological expedition across the Juneau Icefield offered annually to approximately 25 international participants.
-     Daily tasks included: lectures, field work, and an independent glaciological-based research project

Ocean Dynamics Laboratory, Dept. of Earth & Ocean Sciences, UBC, Vancouver, Canada
NSERC Fellow (Summer 2006)
-     Investigated shear instabilities of stratified flow in the Fraser River estuary by conducting weekly hydrographic surveys
-     Data processing and analysis of ADCP, Echo sounder, CTD and GPS data was carried out in the lab using Matlab.

Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
 CEBIC Fellow (Summer 2005)
-     Investigated the effects of light on stable isotope fractionation in marine phytoplankton during nitrate assimilation.

R/V New Horizon Cruise, University of Southern California, USA
Research Assistant (May 2005)
-     Participated on a 10-day R/V New Horizon research cruise to Santa Barbara, San Pedro, Santa Monica Basins with the University of Southern California
-     On-deck and laboratory duties were carried out, with the focus of cruise to observe anoxic geochemistry using Multicore, Gravity core and hydro-cast techniques.

Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences, UBC, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Research Assistant (2004–2005)
-     Worked on a new method for understanding the intrinsic isotope effect in bacteria and algae
-     Cultured algae and bacteria
-      Measured nitrate in water samples on Antek’s Nitrogen Oxide Analyzer
-     Dataset produced for publication in Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta

Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
Research Assistant (Summer 2004)
-     Separated, cleaned, and measured the isotopic composition of nitrogen bound within diatom frustules isolated from Subantarctic Zone sediments
-     Dataset produced for publication in Paleoceanography


LEadership & Community

Engineers for a Sustainable World, Stanford University, USA
Project Leader (2011 – 2014)
-     Developed project idea for a Solar Irrigation Design in Rajasthan, India
-     Initiated/maintained international partnerships with Wells for India, Sayhog Sansthan and Claro Ventures
-     Wrote grant proposals and successfully received $5,000 in funds from SunEdison and ESW-national
-     Co-facilitated project course (CEE 177X/277X) for both undergraduates and graduates
-     Managed logistics in the field for students 

Education Without Borders 2013 Conference, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
World Student Organizing Committee Member (2012 – 2013)
-     One of 20 students selected to organize a biannual conference in Dubai to bring students from around the world to solve global issues, such as global warming, sustainable development, and renewable energy

2010 Himalayas Expedition, British Schools Exploring Society, India
Chief Science Leader (2009 - 2010)
-     Co-led a 5-week high-altitude climbing expedition for 40 young adults
-     Planned research agenda for students during the expedition to the Ladakh region of the Himalayas
-     Trained and mentored students on scientific research methods in glaciology and hydrology 

Water Enterprise Forum, Oxford University Center for the Environment and Said Business School, Oxford, England
Co-Organizer (2008 - 2009)
-     Developed and facilitated the first cross-departmental conference between the Said Business School and the Oxford University Centre for the Environment
-     This conferences was designed to enhance dialogue between MBA and MSc students on topics pertaining to financing water, water market creation, and social entrepreneurship

Oxford Green Schools, Cherwell School, Oxford, England
Co-Director (2008 - 2009)
-     Facilitated an outdoor learning curriculum for middle school students to introduce environmental topics
-     Co-led a 16-member volunteer team of Oxford undergraduate and graduate students

Green Committee, Coler & Colantonio, Inc., Norwell, MA, USA
Member (July – August 2008)
-     Participated in corporate sustainability planning
-     Started the first in-office composting program

International Polar Year, Svalbard, Norway
Field School Co-coordinator (2007–2009)
-     Created and facilitated the first IPY International Polar Field School at the University Centre of Svalbard
-     Assisted in grant writing and successfully received $101,771 from IPY-Norway and the University of the Arctic
-     Solicited nearly 300 applicants from 50 countries
-     Reviewed applications and selected 24 applicants to participate in our field school
-     Assisted in training students on field research and communicating impacts of climate change to the public

Seattle Landscaping & Urban Gardening for Schools, Washington, USA
Co-founder (2007-2009)
-     Established a non-profit organization to promote sustainability and broaden environmental awareness for middle school students through organic gardening
-     Wrote grant proposals and successfully received $18,000 from the City of Seattle
-     Partnered with Mercer Middle School, an underserved urban public school with 94% minorities in the student body

Learning Enhancement Academic Partnership, UBC, Vancouver, Canada
Co-facilitator (Winter 2006)
-     Developed and coordinated a university credited Student Directed Seminar titled “Seminal Papers in Marine Biogeochemistry” (course#: EOSC 448E)
-     Duties included the maintenance of a course website, preparation of class materials, and leading class discussions for the winter semester

UBC Oceanography Society, UBC, Vancouver, Canada
Secretary / Co-founder (2005-2006)
-     Established the first Oceanography Student Society at UBC with a couple other students in the department



Summer 2014             CEE165C/265C: Water Resources Management, Stanford University (Teaching Assistant)
Summer 2014             CEE73: Understanding Water, Stanford University (Teaching Assistant)
Summer 2014            GEOPHYS 104: The Water Course (Course Assistant)
Spring 2012                CEE177X/277X: Design for a Sustainable Word, Stanford University (Teaching Assistant)



2013           Rising Environmental Leader Fellow, Woods Institute, Stanford University
2012           IDEO Human Centered Design MicroGrant Recipient
2012           Borlaug Fellow in Global Food Security, Purdue University
2012           Antarctica Service Medal of the United States of America, National Science Foundation
2011           Haas Graduate Public Service Fellow
2010           NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (3-year tenure)
2009           World Meteorological Organization & The International Council for Science Certificate of Appreciation for contributing to the International Polar Year 2007-08
2009            Kellogg College Alumni Grant, University of Oxford, England
2009            Huber Technology Research Fund
2007            NASA Undergraduate Scholarship, Juneau Icefield Research Program, University of Idaho, USA
2007            International Ocean Colour Coordinating Group Travel Scholarship, Memorial University, Canada
2006            American Society of Limnology Oceanography Outstanding Student Poster Award, Victoria, Canada
2006            NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship, University of British Columbia, Canada
2005            Center for Environmental Bioinorganic Chemistry Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Princeton University, USA
2003            Union Street School Parent Council Scholarship, University of New Brunswick, Canada
2002            Fred Brine Memorial Scholarship, University of New Brunswick, Canada
2002            William and Lois Paine Founder’s Scholarship, University of New Brunswick, Canada


Rohde, M.M., B. Seapy, R. Rogers, X. Castañeda (editors). 2019. Critical Species LookBook: A compendium of California’s threatened and endangered species for sustainable groundwater management. The Nature Conservancy, San Francisco, California. [PDF]

Matsumoto, S., M.M. Rohde, S. Heard. 2019. Economic Tools to Achieve Groundwater Sustainability for Nature: Two Experimental Case Studies from California. Water Economics and Policy, doi: 10.1142/S2382624X19710024.

Zipper, S.C., T. Gleeson, B. Kerr, J.K. Howard, M.M. Rohde, J. Carah, and J. Zimmerman. 2019. Rapid and accurate estimates of streamflow depletion caused by groundwater pumping using analytical depletion functions. Water Resources Research, 55(7): 5807-5829 [Link]

Klausmeyer, K., T. Biswas, M.M. Rohde, F. Schuetzenmeister, N. Rindlaub, J.K. Howard. 2019. GDE Pulse: Taking the Pulse of Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems with Satellite Data. San Francisco, California [Link]

Rohde, M.M. and S. Matsumoto. 2018. The Groundwater Resource Hub: Tools and Resources for Addressing Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under SGMA. Hydrovisions, 27(2): 7-9 [PDF]

Rohde, M.M., S. Matsumoto, J. Howard, S. Liu, L. Riege, and E. Remson. 2018. Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Under The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans. The Nature Conservancy: San Francisco [PDF]

Rohde, M.M. 2017. Securing Food, Energy, and Water in India: Shifting the governance landscape to tackle socio-economic challenges through integrated policies. In Pereira, L.M., C. McElroy, A. Littaye, A.M. Girard (Eds.), Food, Energy and Water Sustainability: Emergent Governance Strategies. Abingdon, U.K: Earthscan [Order]

Rohde, M.M., R. Froend, J. Howard 2017. A Global Synthesis of Managing Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Under Sustainable Groundwater Policy. Groundwater, 55(3) [PDF]

Perrone, D. and M.M. Rohde. 2016. Benefits and Economic Costs of Managed Aquifer Recharge in California. San Francisco Estuary & Watershed Science, 14(2) [PDF]

Rohde, M.M., W.M. Edmunds, S. Sharma. 2015. An accessible hydrogeological tool to monitor critical groundwater resources in hard-rock aquifers, Frontiers in Environmental Science, 3(67), doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2015.00067 [PDF]

Rohde, M.M., W.M. Edmunds, D. Freyberg, O.P. Sharma, A. Sharma. 2015. Estimating aquifer recharge in fractured hard rock: An analysis of the methodological challenges and its application to obtain a water balance, Journal of Hydrogeology, 23(7), p. 1573-1586, doi: 10.1007/s10040-015-1291-9 [Link]

Rohde, M.M., J. Granger, D.M. Sigman, and M.F. Lehmann. 2015. Coupled nitrate N and O stable isotope fractionation by a natural marine plankton consortium. Frontiers in Marine Science, 2(28), doi: 10.3389/fmars.2015.00028 [PDF]

Perrone, D. and M.M. Rohde. 2014. Storing Water in California: What Can $2.7 Billion Buy Us? Water in the West, Stanford University, Stanford, California [PDF]

Granger, J., D.M. Sigman, M.M. Rohde, M.T. Maldonado, and P.D. Tortell. 2009. N and O isotope effects during nitrate assimilation by unicellular prokaryotic and eukaryotic plankton cultures, Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta, 74(3), 1030-1040 [PDF]

Robinson, R. S., D. M. Sigman, P. J. DiFiore, M. M. Rohde, T. A. Mashiotta, and D. W. Lea.  2005. Diatom-bound15N/14N: New support for enhanced nutrient consumption in the ice age subantarctic, Paleoceanography, 20 [PDF]


presentations, workshops & Panel Discussions 

Invited Presentation: “Dynamic Multi-benefit Managed Aquifer Recharge”, Economics of Managed Aquifer Recharge Workshop, USDA Economic Research Service, June 26, 2019, Washington, D.C., USA.

Invited Presentation: “Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans”, American Water Works Association Annual Conference, March 26, 2019, Sacramento, California, USA.

Invited Panelist: “Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans”. Nevada Water Resources Association 2019 Annual Conference, January 31, 2019, Atlantis Hotel & Casino, Reno, Nevada, USA.

Invited Presentation: “Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans”. Salinas Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board of Directors Special Meeting, January 10, 2019, Gonzales, California, USA [Video].

Invited Panelist: “Connecting the Dots between Water, Agriculture, and Ecosystems”. Central Coast Regional Climate Symposium, December 10, 2018, University of Santa Cruz, California, USA.

Invited Panelist: “Take me to the (Ground)Water: Hot Legal Issues in Groundwater Law”. Groundwater Resources Association First Annual Western Groundwater Congress, September 27, 2018, Sacramento, California, USA.

Invited Presentation: “Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act”. Delta-Mendota Subbasin GDE Workshop, August 24, 2018, Los Banos, California, USA.

Invited Presentation: “Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Defined and New Tools for Developing Sustainable Management Criteria. Groundwater Resources Association First Annual Groundwater Sustainability Agency Summit, June 7, 2018, Sacramento, California, USA.

Invited Webinar: “Live Online Walkthrough - Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans”. Association of California Water Agencies Webinar, May 31, 2018.

Invited Presentation: “Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Tools & Guidance for Preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans”. Association of California Water Agencies, Groundwater Committee Meeting, May 8, 2018, Sacramento, California, USA.

Invited Presentation: “Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans”. Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable, May 4, 2018, Sonoma, California, USA.

Invited Presentation: "Securing Water for People and Nature". World Water Day Celebration, April 11, 2018, Orbach Library, University of California, Riverside campus, California, USA.

Rohde, M.M., C. Ulrich, J. Howard, S. Sweet. 2017. Monitoring and Assessing Groundwater Impacts on Vegetation Health in Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems. American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting 2017, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA [POSTER]

Session Co-convener: “Practical Research at the Intersection of Ecology and Hydrology for Sustainable Water Management”. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2017, December 12, 2017, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

Workshop Convener: “Monitoring Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) and Beyond. Part 1: Putting Policy into Practice and Part 2: Measure to Manage.” Riparian Summit Workshop, October 19, 2017, University of California, Davis, California, USA.

Presenter: “Avoiding Undesirable Results: How GDE Data Can Inform Minimum Thresholds & Measurable Objectives under SGMA. Groundwater Resources Association Annual Meeting, October 3, 2017, Sacramento, California, USA.

Session Convener: “Putting Policy into Practice - Achieving Sustainable Groundwater Management for People and Nature”. Special Session at the Ecological Society of America Annual Conference, August 7, 2017, Portland, Oregon, USA.

Invited Webinar: “Tools for Mapping and Managing Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems in SGMA Groundwater Sustainability Plans”. Groundwater Resources Association Webinar (GRA Cast), February 15, 2017.

Co-Presenter: “Considering Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems and Interconnected Surface Waters under SGMA: Tools, Mapping, and a Guidance Framework”. Groundwater Resources Association Annual Conference, September 29, 2016, Sacramento, California, USA.

Rohde, M.M., S. Liu, B. Bondy, T. Morgan, D. Detmer, K. Klausmeyer, J. Howard. 2016. Considering Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under SGMA: A Case Study from Ventura County. Groundwater Resources Association (GRA): Developing Groundwater Sustainability Plan for Success Conference June 8-9, 2016, Sacramento, California, USA [POSTER]

Invited Panelist: The Stanford Woods Institute's 10th Anniversary Symposium: Breaking Through to Global Sustainability.  Panel on the Next Generation Environmental Solutions, November 11, 2014, Cemex Auditorium, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.

"To pump or not to pump: the groundwater question".  Presentation for Breakout Session at Connecting the Dots: The Water, Food, Energy, and Climate Nexus Conference.  April 16, 2012, Arilliaga Alumni Center, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.

Rohde, M.M., W.M. Edmunds, O.P. Sharma, J. Davis. 2012. A Participatory Water Management Tool for the Determination of Groundwater Recharge. American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting 2012, San Francisco, California, USA [POSTER] 

Rohde, M.M., W.M. Edmunds, O.P. Sharma, A. Sharma.  2011. A Watershed Approach for the Determination of Groundwater Recharge in Rajasthan, India. American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting 2011, San Francisco, California, USA [POSTER]

Rohde, M.M. 2009. Lessons from India: sustainable solutions to the water crisis. In: Green Economics Institute Conference Proceedings held at Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom [PDF]

Rohde, M.M., J. Granger, D.M. Sigman, P.D. Tortell.  2006. The Effect of Light on Coupled N and O stable Isotope Fractionation During Nitrate Assimilation by Marine Phytoplankton, American Society of Limnology & Oceanography (ASLO) Summer Meeting 2006, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada [POSTER]



Ensia. “Freshwater Springs Support Amazing Ecosystems and Reflect the Health of Aquifers Humans Rely On. What Can We Do To Protect Them?” (March 19, 2019)

Water Deeply: "Why the Environment Is a Big Winner in California's Groundwater Law" (August 20, 2018)

Yale Environment 360: "In a rare U.S. preserve, water pressures mount as development closes in" (August 2017)

Salon: "California farmers use floodwater to replenish aquifers" (February 2017)

SF Chronicle: "California's statewide water restrictions still needed" (Op-Ed April 2016)

Desert Sun (USA Today): "Use Local Water to Recharge Aquifers" (Op-Ed March 2016)

Los Angeles Times: "To save water, an underground movement to bank El Niño's rainfall" (November 2015)

Huffington Post:  "California Whiplash" (February 2015)  

SF Gate Opinion: "Getting our money's worth from $7.5 billion water bond" (November 2014)

The Guardian: "Get used to toilet-to-tap water, Californians told" (August 2014)

SFGate Opinion: "California's invisible reservoirs" (August 2014)

New York Times Opinion Pages: "How Conservation and Groundwater Management Can Gird California for a Drier Era" (August 2014)

Stanford News: "Stanford's Water in the West program offers new way to view groundwater resources" (July 2014)

AGU Blogosphere: Measuring groundwater recharge could protect rural farmers' livelihoods (December 2012)



American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) - Member (2018)
American Geophysical Union - Member (2011-present)
Environmental and Water Resources Committee Member, Santa Clara Valley Water District - Member (2014-2016)
Groundwater Resources Association of California - Member (2016 - present)
National Groundwater Association - Member (2014)
Water Environment Federation - Member (2014)



  • Computer Literate (Microsoft Office, ArcGIS, R statistical software)

  • Languages: English (native), Spanish (beginner), Hindi (beginner)

  • PADI Open Water Diver Certification

  • Solo Wilderness First Aid Medicine Certification / CPR Certification with American Heart Association