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 Senior Research Fellow 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 Assistant Director of the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy at the Law School. 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 Assistant Director, he supervises and coordinates the work of postgraduate fellows and student researchers. Christopher has done extensive work on a wide variety of legal and policy issues . He currently leads Institute efforts to draft a comprehensive water code for Louisiana. Additionally, he is Assistant Director of the Tulane Center for Environmental Law, a member of the Summer Externship Faculty, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor who co-teaches the Seminar on Coastal and Wetlands Law.
Thuy Le (L '20)
Senior Research Fellow
Thuy Le is a Senior Research Fellow at the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy. A native of New Orleans, she received her B.A. in Political Science from Loyola University of New Orleans and graduated from Tulane Law School in 2020 with a certificate in Maritime Law. Prior to law school, she worked at Transcendent Law Group, a private firm that specializes in labor & employment law and education law. During her time at Tulane, she was Editor-in-Chief of the Tulane Environmental Law Journal, President of the Asian-Pacific American Law Students Association, and a student attorney for the Domestic Violence Clinic. She harbors an interest in science and loves to find ways to weave it into her work, and hopes that her legal career will serve to benefit others.
Portia Mastin (L '19)
Senior Research Fellow
Portia Mastin is a Senior Research Fellow at the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy. Portia is from Indianapolis, Indiana, and received her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Germanic Studies from Indiana University Bloomington. Between undergraduate and law school, Portia worked as a field organizer on the mayoral campaign of Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and as an advocacy corps organizer for the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Portia then moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University Law School, where she received her J.D. with a certificate in Environmental Law in May 2019. Throughout her time at Tulane, Portia was a research assistant at the Institute, speaker chair for the 23rd Annual Tulane Environmental Law & Policy Summit, and a student attorney for the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic.
James R. Nieset
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 Council. 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.
Ann Yoachim (PHTM '04)
Ann is the Director of the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design and a Professor of Practice at the Tulane School of Architecture. As Director, she leads the Center in its efforts to provide design services to communities that are often underserved by the profession. In research, teaching and practice she considers the confluence of built, natural and socially constructed environments and their impact on health and wellness. Much of her current work builds on what she learned working at the Institute as program manager from 2008-2012. She often finds herself working at the intersections of design, equity and ecology.
Ann has a MPH in International Health and Development from Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a BA in Environmental Studies and Political Science from Dickinson College. Prior to receiving her MPH, she worked as a fundraiser and environmental educator in the New Orleans area.
Marisa Escudero is an attorney practicing in the DC Area. She was a Postgraduate Research Fellow at the Institute from 2012 to 2013. During her tenure at Tulane Institute for Water Resources Law & Policy, Ms. Escudero's work focused on water law and policy, stormwater management, and coastal restoration finance. She authored a legal guide on American carbon transactions with a primary focus on blue carbon, i.e. wetland carbon sequestration bought and sold in markets, which analyzed the benefits for using blue carbon as a means for commercial and governmental entities to reduce carbon footprints, provide coastal restoration finance, and preserve landowner rights. Ms. Escudero also drafted a comparative legal analysis on water management laws and regulations for states along the Mississippi corridor.
Ms. Escudero is a member of the bar in Maryland, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia. She earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia, her J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, and her LL.M. from the George Washington School of Law.
Harry Vorhoff (L '13)
Harry Vorhoff is an attorney with the Louisiana Department of Justice. He was a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy at the Law School from 2013 to 2015. Harry graduated magna cum laude from Tulane Law School in 2013. While in law school, Harry served as a research assistant for the Institute, where he contributed to the development of the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan. In addition to tracking the implementation of the Urban Water Plan, Harry is now working on legal and policy issues relating to the financing of coastal restoration and protection in the gulf coast region and water rights in Louisiana. Harry earned a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from Ben Franklin High School.
Caitrin Reilly (L '15)
Caitrin Reilly is a research attorney with Kanner & Whiteley, LLC, where her research thus far has focused primarily on Natural Resource Damage Assessments, the Oil Pollution Act, and Multidistrict Litigation. She was a research assistant at the Tulane Institute on Water Resources from 2013 to 2015 and a Senior Research Fellow here from 2015 to 2016, focusing primarily on comparative water law throughout the United States and France as part of the water code project. She was born in Ohio, growing up in Columbus and Cleveland. She attended Xavier University in Cincinnati and graduated with a BA in English and a minor in Biology. She has also interned with Green Light New Orleans, a non-profit dedicated to installing energy efficient light bulbs throughout Orleans Parish, and the Gulf Restoration Network, where she worked on groundwater and fracking issues, as well as Clean Water Act Permit compliance.
Dean Boyer (L '15)
Dean Boyer was a Senior Research Fellow at the Tulane Institute on Water Resource Law and Policy from 2015 to 2017. He was born in California and grew up in Singapore and the San Francisco bay area. Dean graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2006 with a BA in History. After graduation, he traveled throughout South America and volunteered at an animal refuge in Bolivia. He worked in San Francisco as a shipping coordinator for an online store and as a campaign manager for a non-profit focusing on coastal issues. He came to New Orleans to attend Tulane University Law School where he received a JD with a certificate in environmental law. Dean is a co-founder of No Waste NOLA and is on the board of the New Orleans-based Alliance for Affordable Energy.
Katherine Van Marter (L '16)
Katherine Van Marter was a Senior Research Fellow at the Tulane Institute on Water Resource Law and Policy from 2016 to 2018. Katherine grew up in the Atlanta, Georgia area. She attended Georgia State University and received a B.A. in Political Science with a specialization in International Affairs and a degree in Public Policy. After graduation, Katherine worked as a litigation assistant at a firm in Atlanta before moving to New Orleans to attend Tulane. At Tulane, Katherine received her J.D. with a certification in Environmental Law and an MS in International Development. During her time in graduate and professional school, she was a Research Assistant at the Water Institute and with the Environmental Law Institute. Additionally, she was a summer clerk with the Southern Environmental Law Center, South Carolina Environmental Law Project, and the criminal enforcement division of the EPA. While at The Institute, Katherine led much of our work on comparative international water law and funding for coastal and community adaptation. Katherine is now practicing federal environmental litigation in private practice.
Sam Bruguera (L '17)
Sam Bruguera was a Senior Research Fellow at the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy from 2017 to 2018. They received a B.S. in Biology with an Ecology emphasis and a Chemistry minor from the University of San Francisco. After graduation, they interned for Senator Dianne Feinstein before moving to New Orleans to attend Tulane. While in law school, they were a research assistant for the Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy during which they published the article entitled “Discretion to Diver: Sediment Diversion Projects in Coastal Louisiana and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.” In May of 2017, they received her Juris Doctorate and Environmental Law Certificate from Tulane Law School. While at the Institute, Sam worked tirelessly researching comparative state water laws for our comprehensive water code project. Sam is currently a law clerk with the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Jamie Huffman was a Senior Research Fellow at the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy from 2018 to 2019. Jamie is from the Raleigh, North Carolina area. She received her B.A. with Distinction in Global Studies and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In May 2018, Jamie received her J.D. from William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia. She was also a graduate fellow at the Virginia Coastal Policy Center at William & Mary for all three years of law school, working on a number of different environmental issues that impacted Tidewater Virginia. Jamie has been published in the William & Mary Environmental Law & Policy Review, and has also co-written a white paper for VCPC. She has a recently published article in the NYU Environmental Law Journal. She is now practicing in the litigation group at the Princeton, NJ office of Morgan, Lewis & Bokius.
Kristen Hilferty (L '17)
Kristen Hilferty was a senior research fellow at the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy from 2018 to 2020. Kristen is a New Orleans native, who attended Louisiana State University and received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and History, as well as a minor in Business Administration. During her time at LSU, Kristen interned for then-Senator Mary Landrieu. Following graduation, she returned to New Orleans to attend Tulane University Law School, where she received her J.D. and certification in civil law. At Tulane, Kristen was a research intern at the Water Law Institute, a member of the Tulane Environmental Law Journal, and a student attorney in the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic. After graduating from Tulane in 2017, she clerked for Sthe Honorable Marc T. Amy of the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal. In her spare time, Kristen enjoys reading, gardening, exploring New Orleans, and spending time with her family, friends, and dog.