Assistant Professor of Law
Ph.D., University of Arizona
M.Sc., University of Oxford
J.D., University of California, Hastings College of Law
B.A., University of Michigan
Areas of Expertise
Artificial Intelligence and Law
Sonya Ziaja is an assistant professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. She teaches Environmental Law; Climate Adaptation, Law and Equity; and Property.
Ziaja’s research interests focus on the overlapping areas of environmental governance and law, technology and society: How can environmental law and institutions sustainably adjust to rapidly changing bio-geophysical conditions and societal demands associated with climate change? And with what consequences for equity and democratic participation?
Her approach to these questions draws on her interdisciplinary background in geography, water policy and law, as well as her practical knowledge of energy regulation.
Ziaja’s scholarship is published or is forthcoming in Georgetown Law Journal, Ecology Law Quarterly, and Arizona State Law Journal, among other law reviews and peer reviewed journals. Her article, “How Algorithm Assisted Decision Making Is Influencing Environmental Law and Climate Adaptation” was selected to appear, condensed and reprinted, in the 2023 Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review. Her research has informed the climate adaptation strategy of the U.S. National Parks Service and the first climate adaptation regulation of investor-owned energy utilities in California.
Before coming to UBalt Law, she worked in energy regulation at the California Public Utilities Commission and was the research lead for the Water, Energy, Climate Nexus at the California Energy Commission. Ziaja holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Arizona, M.Sc. in Water Science, Policy and Management from the University of Oxford, and J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
"How Algorithm-Assisted Decision Making Is Influencing Environmental Law and Climate Adaptation," 48 Ecology L.Q. 899-936 (2021).
"Climate Adaptation for Energy Utilities: Lessons Learned from California's Pioneering Regulatory Actions," Frontiers in Climate, Vol. 3 (2021).
"Lessons on Race and Place-Based Participation from Environmental Justice and Geography," Yale Journal on Regulation (2020).
“Role of Knowledge Networks and Boundary Organizations in Coproduction: A Short History of a Decision Support Tool and Model for Adapting Multiuse Reservoir and Water-Energy Governance to Climate Change in California,” 11.4 Weather, Climate, and Society 823-849 (2019).
“Rules and Values in Virtual Optimization of California Hydropower,” 57 Natural Resources Journal 329 (2017).
“Conjunctive Groundwater Management as a Response to Social Ecological Disturbances: A Comparison of Four Western U.S. States,” Texas Water Journal (2016) (with co-authors)
“Judging Science: The Rewards and Perils of Courts as Boundary Organizations,” 21.2 Hastings West Northwest J. Envtl. L. & Pol'y 217 (2015) (with co-author).
“Muddy Waters: Congressional Consent and the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Resources Compact,” 36 Hastings Const. L. Q. 717 (Note, Spring 2009).
Book and Treatise Chapters
“Conjunctive Management of Surface Water and Groundwater Resources” in Mary K. Sahs, ed., Essentials of Texas Water Resources, 6th Edition (State Bar of Texas, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section) (2020) (with Zachary Sugg and Edella Schlager).
“Water-energy nexus in semiarid regions and coastal cities of California and Baja California,” in Gian Carlo Delgado Ramos, ed., Climate Change-Sensitive Cities: Building Capacities for Urban Resilience, Sustainability, and Equity (National Autonomous University of Mexico Research Program on Climate Change, 2017) (with G. Moñuz Melendez and Guido Franco).
Selected Government Reports
Bedsworth, L., Guido Franco, Dan Cayan, Leah Fisher, and Sonya Ziaja, Statewide Summary Report, California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment (State of California, 2018).
Ziaja, S. and Guido Franco, “Climate Adaptation and Resiliency” in 2016 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update (California Energy Commission, 2017).
Rockman, M., Marissa Morgan, Sonya Ziaja, George Hambrecht and Alison Meadow, “Cultural Resources Climate Change Strategy” (National Park Service, 2016), available at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/climatechange/upload/NPS-2016_Cultural-Resoures-ClimateChange-Strategy.pdf.
Ziaja, S., Guido Franco, Alex Barnum, Susan Wilhelm and David Stoms, “Climate Change Research Plan for California” (California Energy Commission, 2015).
Selected Presentations, Lectures, and Conferences
California Western School of Law, San Diego, CA. Guest lecturer, Natural Disaster Seminar (Prof. Kenneth Klein) (February 21, 2019).
Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy, San Jose, CA. Invited participant, “Sustainable Groundwater Management: The Path Forward” (October 7-10, 2018).
Local Government Coalition, Civic Spark Orientation, Sacramento, CA. Invited speaker, “Adaptation/Resilience and Equity: Perspectives and Tools for Equitable Climate Adaptation” (September 13, 2017).Association of American Geographers, Legal Geographies, San Francisco, CA. Presenter, “Adaptation Lessons from the History of Hydroelectricity Governance in California” (April 1, 2016).