Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Ecosystem Science and Policy (Graduate)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Kenneth Broad

Second Committee Member

Terry Garcia

Third Committee Member

Keene Haywood

Fourth Committee Member

Patricia White


This dissertation consists of a series of case studies that explore the relationship between law and scientific exploration, focusing on how these fields interact to co-create emerging methods of collecting baseline environmental data. Chapter 1 situates this work in the larger methodological contexts of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) and legal studies of scientific evidence, integrating these two approaches to form the theoretical framework for this dissertation as a whole. Chapter 2 introduces the intertwined relationship between law and exploration, arguing that analyzing these fields together brings new insight on both sides and addressing the key features that define this relationship today. I then turn to a series of specific case studies that illustrate how law and scientific exploration together shape the adoption of emerging scientific methods. In Chapter 3, I look at the influence of the legal regime on how scientific data is collected in the context of underwater drones. In Chapter 4, I analyze how data is used, addressing the legal barriers to the use of citizen science data in law and policy decision-making. In Chapter 5, I draw these threads together in an analysis of data quality and regulatory consistency under the Clean Water Act. Chapter 6 synthesizes these findings and argues that emerging methods in scientific exploration have an important role to play in remedying widespread environmental monitoring failures, but that these will only be useful if attention is paid to the legal system in which they operate.


law; exploration; citizen science; clean water act