Isha Ray, Professor

Closed (1) Art, activism and digital media in waterscape transformations

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

Students will sign up for one or two units of credit. The group will meet on campus once a week for most (but not all) weeks during the semester. Aside from this time, students will be expected to work the remaining weekly hours on their own, with guidance and support to be provided by email and phone as needed.

For new students, we will begin with a thorough introduction to the research projects the group has been and will continue to work on this semester, to ensure that new students understand their role in the larger research project and its general significance.

The group will focus on three related projects: The students will contribute to substantial activities of the overall project (CLAMOR). Therefore, we aim at a significant engagement and gain of useful research skills after participation.

CLAMOR is a research action promoted by the European Commission. The project involves empirical research on the use of artistic creations and cultural expressions in ecological-distribution conflicts at two levels: a) case studies of conflicts over wetlands and over coal; b) creation and use of databases on arts and multimedia from environmental conflicts in selected countries. The project entails academic collaboration between the UC Berkeley and the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.

CLAMOR offers three research opportunities for URAP students:
1. Contribution to the science-communication objectives of the project. This consists of two activities: a) assistance in the design and management of the website and social media of the project; b) assistance in the pre-production and production of a 10 min video about alliances between environmental justice movements (health guidelines permitting).

2. Contribution to the analysis of artistic, cultural and digital media expression used in the management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (SSJRD). This project entails: a) compilation of secondary sources of information; b) identification and of producers or users of artistic or cultural manifestations employed in the management of the SSJRD; c) contact and interviews with art creators, or artistic activists engaged in the case. The student will count on a detailed interview guide, and close guidance on good practices in community-oriented research. URAP research will be conducted from Berkeley.

3. Contribution to the analysis of the technical and legal viability of web-scraping for studies on the use of artistic manifestations in environmental conflicts in social media outlets. This work entails: a) searching relevant sources about the topic in scientific literature and digital media, b) identify cases of web-scrapping in social science research, c) summarizing findings to prepare further analysis. If the URAP student has an interest and some background in data analysis, they will be invited to help the team analyze the data they collect.

During the interview process students can indicate which of the three tracks they are primarily interested in, though certain level of interaction may be asked.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Beatriz Rodriguez-Labajos, Postdoc Researcher with Professor Isha Ray


Sub-project 1: This sub-project offers training in science communication practices, and film pre-production and production. It will also broaden the student’s understanding about the views and work of environmental justice organizations in the global south.

Sub-project 2: This sub-project offers training in the different stages of qualitative research, and in the preparation of data about artworks and cultural expressions for their representation in a Geographic Information System. COVID-19 may force this project to be remotely conducted.

Sub-project 3: Students will learn about academic research skills and document organization, and data management, analysis, and reporting. In the course of the sub-project, the student will broaden their understanding about web-scraping, and artistic activism.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Beatriz Rodriguez-Labajos, Post-Doc

Qualifications: Essential: 1) Comfortable with internet research, and confident and professional on phone calls; 2) Clear/fluent English language writing and conversation skills; 3) Detail oriented when following procedures of data gathering both direct data (interviews) and indirect data (mining of scientific articles). 4) Access to a phone / email and ability to be flexible with conducting interview surveys during professional business hours in CA (9A-5P, Monday-Friday). Preferred but not required: 1) Experience designing and conducting interviews; 2) Knowledge and/or work experience with science communication, wetland management or web-scraping.

Weekly Hours: 3-5 hrs





Closed (4) Water Affordability in California's Human Right to Water

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

Access to safe, clean, and affordable water was declared a human right in 2012 in California, and yet little research has been done to understand what access to affordable water looks like across the state. Despite being the world's 6th largest economy, California still struggles to provide safe and affordable water to people across the state. In some communities, families suffer from water contamination and water bills that exceed their ability to pay–this has devastating consequences for people's wellbeing and public health, generally.

The student will be part of a project situated at the interface of science and policy, where research conducted is directly shaped by CA state needs to fully realize the Human Right to Water. The primary work involved in this project will be conducting short semi-structured surveys with water system operators and/or employees across California by email and phone. Surveying water system operators on questions of water rates, rate structures, and water costs will contribute to an ongoing collaboration (since 2015) on water affordability with the California EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment office based on Oakland (URAP research will be conducted from Berkeley, however).


Students will sign up for three units of credit. We will meet once a week (3x per month with PhD student Jessica Goddard and 2-3x per semester with Jess, Professor Isha Ray, and external collaborator Dr. Carolina Balazs), for one hour. Students will be expected to work the rest of the hours independently, with communication by email and phone as needed.

The first two weeks will be dedicated to 1) introducing the project goals, 2) training the student in relevant social science research protocols for survey methods and interviews, and 3) developing a work plan for the semester. This will allow the student to understand the importance of their role in the research process and the types of skills they will gain during the project. We feel strongly about student’s gaining a lot from this experience! The student will be provided with relevant preparatory literature (in the first two weeks), a short survey to conduct with water systems, and a detailed interview guide. In addition to such basic training, the student will work closely with the graduate student in weekly meetings to refine interview techniques and to transcribe notes from their survey interviews. Students will also be required to present their findings 2-3 times per semester as part of training in synthesizing and interpreting data.

If the URAP student has an interest and some background in data analysis, they will be invited to help the team analyze the data they collect. This is optional; primarily we seek students who are considerate communicators, fearless information-gatherers, and interested in learning about formal social science methods, California water systems, and working on one of the first human right to water affordability projects in the state.

, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Essential: 1) Access to a phone / email and ability to be flexible with conducting interview surveys with water systems during professional business hours in CA (9A-5P, Monday-Friday); 2) Comfortable with internet research and confident on phone calls (finding contact information for water systems takes many phone calls and follow ups!); 3) Clear/fluent English language conversation and writing skills to conduct interviews in English; 4) Extremely detail oriented to record every detail of interview surveys & record all interactions methodically; 5) Professional communication etiquette for survey interactions. Preferred but not required: 1) Experience designing and delivering surveys and/or interviews; 2) Knowledge and/or work experience with water systems; drinking water; and/or water rates and water costs and/or utilitie.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs
Related website: https://ushrnetwork.org/