WHO WE ARE
The Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy works to foster understanding of the complex relationship between people and water. We are located in New Orleans, where water surrounds us. This provides us with a unique vantage point on the front lines of water law and policy. We provide law and policy analysis to decision makers and the public to ensure that water and the ecosystems it supports are maintained for future generations while providing for the needs of the people today. We work with a broad spectrum of institutions and individuals to incorporate science, engineering, and resource management practices to meet our society's ecologic, cultural, and economic needs.
Meet The Team
Mark Davis is a Research Professor at Tulane University Law School and Director of the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy at the Law School. Prior to starting the Institute he served 14 years as the Executive Director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana where he was extensively involved in shaping laws, policies and programs at the state and federal level dealing the restoration and stewardship of coastal ecosystems. He also practiced law in Washington, DC, Indianapolis, and Chicago. He has been an adjunct professor at IIT Chicago Kent School of Law and Indiana University's School of Business in Indianapolis. He has a JD, with honors, from Indiana University and an MLT from the Georgetown University Law Center. He is a member of the bar in Louisiana, Illinois, the District of Columbia, and Indiana.
Mr. Davis has written and lectured widely on matters related to coastal and water resource management and has testified before White House and Congressional panels on numerous occasions. He has been recognized for his work with a Louisiana Legend Award from the Louisiana Environmental Action Network and an Environmental Hero award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Christopher Dalbom (L '12)
Christopher Dalbom is a Senior Research Fellow at Tulane University Law School and the Director of the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy. Prior to coming to Tulane, Christopher served in the Peace Corps in El Salvador and studied cultural geography in Louisiana and Virginia.
Since graduating from Tulane Law School in 2012 he has filled multiple roles at the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy. Now, as Director, he leads the Institute's vision and planning & supervises and coordinates the work of postgraduate fellows and student researchers. Christopher brings to bear extensive work on a wide variety of legal and policy issues.
Additionally, he is Assistant Director of the Tulane Center for Environmental Law, a member of the Summer Externship Faculty, Deputy Faculty Director of the Tulane Master of Jurisprudence in Energy & Environmental Law program, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor who teaches Water Law and Policy and the Seminar on Coastal and Wetlands Law.
He's been called the "Kai Ryssdal of water policy." So, he's got that.
Haley Gentry (L '22)
William B. Wiener, Jr. Foundation Research Fellow
Haley is a Senior Research Fellow at the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she attended Vanderbilt University where she received degrees in Public Policy Studies and Spanish, as well as a minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. She graduated from Tulane Law School in 2022 with a certificate in environmental law. During law school, she worked for the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, the Conservation Law Foundation, and served as a student attorney for Tulane's Environmental Law Clinic. She filled various roles in student organizations, including Executive Director of Tulane's 26th Environmental Law & Policy Summit, Activities Chair for the Environmental Law Society, Secretary for the Public Interest Law Foundation, and Senior Notes and Comments Editor for the Environmental Law Journal.
Ximena De Obaldia (LLM '23)
William B. Wiener, Jr. Foundation Research Fellow
Born and raised in Panama City, Panama, Ximena is a Research Fellow at the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy. At Tulane, she obtained her Master’s in General Law in 2023. Before attending Tulane University School of Law, Ximena studied at the Universidad Catolica Santa Maria la Antigua (USMA) in Panama and graduated with a Bachelor's in Law and Political Science. While in Panama, Ximena worked as a paralegal in the aviation law department at Galindo, Arias & Lopez. During her year as a law student at Tulane, Ximena was elected the President of the Graduate Lawyers at Tulane association and LL.M. Student Bar Association representative.
James R. Nieset (L' 67)
Visiting Research Fellow
James R. Nieset is a graduate of Tulane University (Physics 1964). He graduated from Tulane Law School in 1967, where he was a member of the Board of Student Editors of The Tulane Law Review and was elected to Order of the Coif. After service in the United States Air Force in the Judge Advocate General Corps, he practiced as a member and partner in the law firm of Plauche’ Smith & Nieset in Lake Charles, Louisiana. In 2013 he became Of Counsel with the firm and in 2016 he and his wife moved to New Orleans. His practice focused on trial and appellate work in products liability, professional liability, construction, environmental and oilfield legacy matters. In addition to his practice in the state courts of Louisiana, he has been admitted to the United States District Courts for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Louisiana and the Eastern District of Texas, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
He has been active in alumni matters at Tulane University and at Tulane Law School, where he serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board. As a Corresponding Advisor to the Institute, he advises students on research and writing assignments, mentors, does individual research, and provides summaries of information pertinent to the work of the Institute and of the Tulane Center for Environmental Law.
Samantha Pfotenhauer (L '17)
Originally from Tempe, Arizona, Samantha Pfotenhauer received her B.A. in Environmental Studies with a minor in Marine Sciences from University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. Sam then attended Tulane University Law School and graduated with honors in May 2017. While at Tulane Law, Sam was a member of the Tulane Law Review, the executive chair of the 21st Annual Tulane Environment Law & Policy Summit, and a student attorney at the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic. She was also elected to the Order of the Coif and awarded the Tulane 34 Award. Following graduation, Sam clerked for the Honorable Martin L.C. Feldman in the Eastern District of Louisiana for one year. She then relocated to New York City and joined the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell as an associate, where she primarily practiced civil litigation until her departure in August 2020. As a Corresponding Advisor to the Institute, Sam researches and writes about food systems and food justice issues and advises students on research and writing assignments. Sam is a member of the New York Bar.