About Us


CWS logo of fish reaching for leaf

The Center for Watershed Sciences is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of critical water challenges, particularly in California, focusing on environmentally and economically sustainable solutions for managing rivers, lakes and estuaries.



Who We Are

stream with reeds

The Center for Watershed Sciences is California's leading academic institute in water management. As an interdisciplinary research unit of the UC Davis Institute of the Environment, the Center combines the talents of biologists, geologists, engineers, economists, legal scholars and others to help understand and solve California's complex water problems.

Our research is nonpartisan and funded from a diverse portfolio of sources, primarily foundations, public agencies and conservation groups.

The Center was founded in 1998 by two prominent professors who saw that single-issue and single-species approaches to water management were failing to resolve water conflicts. Geologist Jeffrey Mount and fish biologist Peter Moyle designed the Center to develop more integrated and imaginative approaches to water science and policy. The interdisciplinary character began to take shape with the addition of Richard Howitt, an agricultural economist, and Jay Lund, a civil and environmental engineer.

Since then, the Center has grown in size and disciplinary breadth to stay ahead of potential water crises as the climate changes and water demands increase. 

What We Do

person squatting to sample a shallow creek for bugs

The Center conducts problem-solving research and syntheses on restoration and water resource management, mainly in California, but also nationally and internationally. Our research typically involves teams drawn from the physical, biological, social and engineering sciences, often in partnership with agencies and conservation groups.

The Center:

  • Develops and applies quantitative analysis of ecological, economic and social aspects of water management systems
  • Evaluates critical uncertainties in watershed, riverine, riparian, floodplain and tidal marsh restoration efforts
  • Regularly contributes to environmental science journals
  • Produces insightful commentary on California WaterBlog.com


Our Philosophy 

The Center is committed to providing a welcoming and supportive environment for all people. We are committed to creating a warm and inclusive workplace with room for different people, ideas, and perspectives. Explore our "About Us" tab to learn more about our Philosophy and Code of Conduct, or actions being taken by our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee