The Darcy Aston Memorial Lecture and community gatherings is in memory of Darcy Aston, 1981 UCSB Environmental Studies Alum and beloved member of the Santa Barbara Community. Join us every year in Winter Quarter as we share ideas on how our community will balance competing demands on our increasingly scarce water resources. 

These annual lectures focus on innovative approaches to the complex issues of water quality and watershed protection with an emphasis on the things that were most important to Darcy: protection of wild places and wildlife, public health and minimizing the human footprint on earth. Lectures will be open to students, faculty and employees of UCSB, as well as the general public. These lectures also serve as an opportunity for Darcy's friends, family and colleagues to gather to honor and remember Darcy.  To contribute to the Darcy Aston Lecture fund click here.

9th Annual Darcy Aston Memorial Water Lecture 


Tuesday, May 7th, 2024
5:00pm –6:30pm

View the lecture flier here. Watch a recording of the talk here.
Related resources shared by speakers:

Join our talk, where we will learn about local tribal history, Indigenous practices regarding water, and current efforts to celebrate and embrace Tribal knowledge, language and stewardship of both fresh and ocean waters in our state and region! This year’s Darcy Aston Memorial Water Lecture will feature two speakers:

Anecita Agustinez, Tribal Policy advisor for California Department of Water Resources

Anecita is an enrolled citizen of the Dine (Navajo) Nation. She is born to the Tó dích’íinii (Bitter
Water Clan) and born for the Ilocano Clan. An alumnus of Stanford University, her area of expertise is in water policy and legislative advocacy on behalf of Tribal governments in California. She provides support, recommendations, and direction in the areas of policy and project implementation concerning environmental justice issues, regional water planning, flood
management, climate change, drought, ecosystem restoration, sustainable groundwater
management, water bond grant funding, energy and underrepresented community engagement. She coordinates inter-agency Tribal engagement and training; and is DWR lead for Tribal Consultation and Tribal engagement.

Spenser Jaimes, Founder and CEO of Limuw Productions

Spenser Jaimes is Coastal Chumash, affiliated with Šmuwič & Island Chumash, living in the village of Syuxtun which is now commonly known as Santa Barbara. He serves his community as a caretaker of two tomols the ‘Xax 'Alolk'oy and 'Elye'wun. He is the Founder and CEO of Limuw Productions, an independent film production company documenting Chumash cultural knowledge and history, making it more accessible to our tribal citizens and the general public. Recently he shot and directed a short film, The Indian’s Reply, which is a part of The Autry Museum’s “Reclaiming El Camino: Native Resistance in the Missions and Beyond” exhibition and will be playing until Summer 2025. He also helped create the feature documentary WAYS OF OUR WATER, premiering in 2024.

Following the event there will be a reception with pizza and beverages, hosted by the
Friends of Darcy, in the UCSB Environmental Studies Seminar room (Bren Hall 4016) from 6:30-8:00pm.

This is the latest in a series of annual lecturers given in memory of Darcy Aston, 1981 UCSB Environmental Studies Alum and beloved member of the Santa Barbara Community.   If you wish to contribute to the Darcy Aston Lecture Fund you may do so here.

Our Most Recent Speakers

8th Annual Darcy Aston Memorial Water Lecture 

"Bringing Back Our Wetland; Restoring a Community Treasure with the Help of Students and Residents"

Lisa Stratton, PhD, has been the Director of Ecosystem Management for UCSB's Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER) since 2005. As the manager of the campus lagoon and other open space areas on campus, she has been active in pursuing opportunities to restore native habitat, improve water quality, and support biodiversity, including threatened and endangered species. She received her PhD at University of Hawaii-Manoa, her Masters from University of Wisconsin-Madison and her undergraduate degree at Stanford. She has been a change agent on the landscape committee since the inception of UCSB's sustainability commitment and worked towards promoting sustainable, non-invasive, low water landscapes that celebrate UCSB's unique location within a matrix of natural habitats and wetlands. In addition Lisa supports restoration through grants, promotes research, and works through collaboration with a diversity of local, state, and federal partners.

We encourage you to watch an inspiring film about how the former Ocean Meadows Golf Course was transformed and restored back to its original natural condition. The film Bringing Back our Wetland, by Mike Love and featured in the SB International Film Festival in February.

Watch a recording of her talk on the Environmental Studies Vimeo page here.

7th Annual Darcy Aston Memorial Water Lecture 

Prior to founding the Community Water Center, Susana worked in several positions in the Santa Barbara area, including working with Darcy Aston at the Santa Barabra County Water Agency.  Susana’s experience includes planning and organizing positions at the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment; the County of Merced Planning Department; and Santa Barbara’s Community Environmental Council. She is a seasoned community organizer and currently serves on the Advisory Council for the Water Solutions Network and is a Steering Committee member on the Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus. Susana is also a co-founder and member of the board of Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL). 

She has received numerous awards and recognitions, including: The James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award (2018); White House Champion of Change for Climate Equity (2016); “150 Fearless Women in the World” by Newsweek Magazine (2012); AOL sponsored PBS three-part series titled, Makers: Women Who Have Shaped America (2012); and “Las Fabulosas” and “Inspiring Latinas” by Powerful Latinas (2011). Susana earned a B.A. from the UC Santa Barbara while completing a double major in Environmental Studies and Geography.

"Securing the Human Right to Clean Water for All Californians" 
By Susana De Anda, the Executive Director of the Community Water Center / El Centro Comunitario Por El Agua (CWC).  They work to make safe drinking water affordable for all and to end the drinking water crisis.

Watch a recording of her talk on the Environmental Studies Vimeo page here.
View a pdf of her presentation slide deck here.

6th Annual Darcy Aston Memorial Water Lecture 

Obi Kaufman, author of the best-selling California Field Atlas, turns his artful yet analytical attention to the Golden State’s single most complex and controversial resource: water. In The State of Water, full-color maps unravel the braided knot of California’s water infrastructure and ecosystems, exposing a history of unlimited growth in spite of finite natural resources—a history that has led to its current precarious circumstances. But this built world depends upon the biosphere, and in The State of Water Kaufmann argues that environmental conservation and restoration efforts are necessary not only for ethical reasons but also as a matter of human survival. Offering nine perspectives to illustrate the most pressing challenges facing California’s water infrastructure, from dams to species revitalization, Kaufmann reveals pragmatic yet inspiring solutions to how water in the West can continue to support agriculture, municipalities, and the environment. Interspersed throughout with trail paintings of animals that might survive under a caring and careful water ethic, Kaufmann shows how California can usher in a new era of responsible water conservation, and— perhaps most importantly—how we may do so together.

5th Annual Darcy Aston Memorial Water Lecture 

Felicia Marcus is an attorney/consultant with 35 years of expertise in organizational management, policy development, program implementation, and public engagement at the federal, state, and local level. Most recently, she was Chair of the California State Water Board, with regulatory responsibility for water conservation, groundwater management, wastewater recycling, stormwater capture, desalination, water rights laws, and the state’s drinking water program. Felicia helped lead the board through the state’s worst drought in modern history. Prior to this, Felicia led US EPA’s Southwest and Pacific Region (Region IX), working extensively on air, water, and toxics issues while helping negotiate agreements, develop policy, and implement projects on state, tribal, US-Mexico border, and Pacific Islands issues. Additionally, she has held senior leadership positions with national non-profit organizations and has been a practicing attorney in the private and non-profit sectors. She currently serves on the Commission on Environmental Cooperation-Joint Public Advisory Council (US, Mexico, Canada). Felicia has a law degree from NYU and an AB cum laude from Harvard College in East Asian Studies. 

4th Annual Darcy Aston Memorial Water Lecture 

Dr. Christina Babbitt manages the California Groundwater Program at Environmental Defense Fund, where she is working to advance successful implementation of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. In her role, she leads efforts to advance water trading policy in California and scale replicable groundwater sustainability pilot projects across California’s Central Valley. In these efforts, Babbitt focuses on building partnerships among NGOs, agencies, water districts, and agricultural partners in ways that enhance collective impact.

Prior to joining EDF in 2015, Babbitt worked as a senior associate at Blue Earth Consultants, LLC in Oakland, California, where she specialized in natural resource management and governance, institutional design and effectiveness, and strategic planning. Previously, she held positions with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Services Center in Oakland, California, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water in Washington, D.C. Dr. Babbitt earned a Ph.D. in natural resources from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln; an MSc in environmental science from Florida International University; and a BA in international relations from Rollins College.

3rd Annual Darcy Aston Memorial Water Lecture 

Dr. Newsha K. Ajami, is the director of Urban Water Policy with Stanford University’s Water in the West program. She is a leading expert in sustainable water resource management, water policy, innovation, and financing, and the water-energy-food nexus. Her research throughout the years has been interdisciplinary and impact driven, focusing on the improvement of the science-policy-stakeholder interface by incorporating social and economic measures and effective communication.

Dr. Ajami is a gubernatorial appointee to the Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board. Before joining Stanford, she worked as a senior research associate at the Pacific Institute, and served as a Science and Technology fellow at the California State Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee where she worked on various water and energy related legislation.. Dr. Ajami received her Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from the UC, Irvine, an M.S. in hydrology and water resources from the University of Arizona.