water in small canyon

Rosenberg Institute Seminar Series - Jory Lerback

Wednesday, October 25, 2023
Event Time 03:30 p.m. - 04:30 p.m. PT
Location BCC
Contact Email


Jory Lerback, Postdoctoral Researcher, Lawrence Livermore National Labs

Paths to climate resilience through groundwater chemistry and environmental justice


Anthropogenic climate change is bringing major changes to the water cycle. In the Western US, increasingly early snowmelt and warm coastal storms will flood and damage aging water storage infrastructure. Without equitable adaptation measures, flooding, droughts, and increased contamination risks in the intensified water cycle will harm communities who are already economically and socio-culturally disenfranchised.  In this talk, I will show how using multiple isotopic systems can track groundwater movement and identify mechanisms of groundwater recharge in Utah and California. Working with (site-local) tribal partners and scholars of American Indian Studies at two California spring sites to ethically co-design projects. Deeper insights into groundwater recharge are useful to water managers to design efficient systems of storing storm runoff and early-melt waters underground, optimizing managed aquifer recharge. Partnerships and an ethic of “science in service” are key to linking water management strategies to issues of environmental justice and self-determination.  

Part of this work was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344, release number LLNL-ABS-855085. 


Jory Lerback is a postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory studying managed aquifer recharge with novel isotopic tools. Lerback was previously a UC Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA’s Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences Department and the American Indian Studies Center where they studied issues of water justice in Los Angeles’ water footprint. Lerback received her PhD in 2021 from the University of Utah Department of Geology and Geophysics. Prior to graduate school, Lerback worked at the American Geophysical Union as a data analyst and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Franklin and Marshall College’s Department of Geoscience in 2013. 

Jory Lerback