As a social science and environmental communication researcher, Bernacchi pursues questions about the intersections of science, policy, and the public through quantitative and qualitative research methods. She is particularly interested in how the communication of scientific concepts affects public participation and natural resources management.
Leigh Bernacchi joined UC Water in August 2015 as the program coordinator. She handles internal and external communication, framing UC Water research within the context of California’s water problems and solutions.
She also chairs UC Water's partnership with the UCTV Sustainable California channel, an online video media resource on sustainability research across the University of California system. She has co-produced and written two videos on UC Water:
Hailing from Mariposa, California and with a background in agriculture and natural resources management, Leigh applies social science theory to the practice of communication.
Her research interests include public understanding of science; climate change adaptation; and more locally, the Tuolumne River within Yosemite National Park where she was a naturalist ranger. She holds a PhD in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University, a MS in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah, and a BA in Environmental Science from Willamette University.
Whether on UC Merced’s campus or off, Leigh enjoys birding and hiking.