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Debra Perrone, PhD

Researching water scarcity challenges facing society.
​Integrating water quality, quantity, and policy sciences.

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Debra Perrone is an Associate Professor of UCSB’s Environmental Studies Program. Deb integrates research methods from engineering, physical science, and law to inform water sustainability and policy; she uses a wide-spectrum of outlets to disseminate her research, including peer-reviewed journals, policy briefs, and interactive-online dashboards.

Prior to joining the faculty at the University of California, Debra was a postdoctoral research scholar at Stanford University (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Woods Institute for the Environment (Water in the West)). She received her PhD in Environmental Engineering at Vanderbilt University in 2014 and was awarded first honors as the Graduate School’s Founder’s Medalist. Debra has been recognized by numerous early career awards, including the Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award from the American Geophysical Union (2022) and a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (2023).


Debra is a co-author of a textbook for undergraduate students that focuses on the challenges and opportunities surrounding our global water resources by providing a foundation in water science and policy.


Debra Perrone is a first-generation college attendee. 

Black Water

NEW Winter 2024:

Rapid groundwater decline and some cases of recovery in aquifers globally

Groundwater is a vital water resource globally, providing drinking water to billions of individuals and supplying nearly half of all water used for irrigation. Excessive withdrawals can deplete groundwater resources. Our new study analyzed millions of groundwater levels in 170,000 wells in over 40 countries to identify groundwater level changes over time.


Two of the findings of the study are:

  1. Rapid groundwater declines are widespread, especially in arid climates with extensive croplands.

  2. In many of these cultivated drylands, groundwater declines have accelerated over the past 40 years.

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