Water science | At home and half a world away
For almost twenty years, I have worked on water science, sometimes at sites that are half a world away. Most of my time has been spent in West Africa, most of it in Mali, but I have also had projects as close as the Carson River. In between there have been projects in eastern Nevada, Uganda, and Uzbekistan. The common thread has been water, though the questions range.
My path to water science was a meandering one that wasn’t clear, at least not right away. I’m first-gen, I believed it when I was told that I wasn’t good at math, went to a state school and studied all the wrong stuff (for me), and still didn’t know where to go. Along the way I got great advice from a few people who believed in me; I am forever grateful to them. With their advice the next meander brought me to graduate school as unfunded student deficient of almost all prerequisites, but I felt lucky to be there. I finally knew where to go – environmental engineering and, ultimately, hydrogeology.
In graduate classes I learned about drinking water, wastewater, surface water, and groundwater. I never learned why some have spaces between water and a word while some do not. During labs we filled beakers, made measurements, and ventured out to sample the Truckee River. My first research project, which became my master’s thesis, was on a treatment system for acid mine drainage. The next research project, which was my dissertation and then the focus of my work as a researcher, was rural water supply in developing countries. Despite a meandering path, I’ve come to realize we wanted the same thing – enough clean, safe water for the next generation.
My goal is to help anyone understand water from source to sink – where it comes from and where it goes.