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Water Resources Research

The faculty in the Water Resources Engineering program is actively involved in a wide range of research activities dealing with problems in groundwater hydrology and contamination, river hydraulics, multi-phase computational hydraulics, real-time control of multi-objective reservoir systems, watershed hydrology, storm water management, coastal flooding, water resources systems analysis, and hydroinformatics. These research areas are led by Professors Jack Istok, Meghna Babbar-Sebens, and William McDougal. Their work is augmented by emeritus faculty members Wayne Huber, Peter Klingeman, and David Bella, and instructor Tracy Arras. 

Dr. Istok's research interests include: groundwater hydrology, groundwater quality and remediation, and subsurface fate and transport processes. He designed the large-scale physical aquifer models in the Groundwater Research Laboratory  and has developed several novel methods for in situ aquifer characterization. Much of his research focuses on the single-well "push-pull" method, which consists of the controlled injection of a prepared test solution into a single well followed by the extraction of the test solution/groundwater mixture from the same well.

Dr. Leon's research interests include hydraulic transients (free surface, pressurized, mixed and air-water geyser flows), stormwater management and modeling, real-time operation of multi-objective reservoir systems, flood control, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and physical modeling of hydraulic structures. Dr. Leon has developed various mathematical and numerical models, among them the open source code Illinois Transient Model (ITM) and OSU Rivers. Dr. Leon's open source ITM model was used for the analysis of combined sewer systems in the United States of cities like Chicago and Dallas and currently is being used in countries such as Switzerland, New Zealand and Mexico. OSU Rivers is intended for the robust control of multi-objective and multi-reservoir systems under uncertainty.
Dr. Babbar-Sebens’ research interests lie in the area of Hydroinformatics, which employs simulation modeling, and information and communication technologies to help solve problems in hydraulics, hydrology and environmental engineering for better management of water-based systems. Her research program develops and employs state of the art approaches in systems analysis, heuristic simulation modeling, optimization (multi-objective, dynamic, stochastic, and interactive), human-computer interaction, data assimilation, and high performance computing to address engineering challenges in (a) understanding of higher-order human-environment interactions (such as emerging behaviors and dynamic relationships) in water-based systems, and (b) supporting human-computer collaboration for integrated, adaptive, and sustainable design of complex water-based systems.

Dr. McDougal’s research interests include physical modeling, coastal and river structures, floating structures, shoreline stability, and coastal flooding.

CCE WRE faculty have traditionally been heavily allied with other water-oriented faculty around the OSU campus, including engineers and scientists in Biological and Ecological Engineering, Forest Engineering, Geosciences, Crop and Soil Science, and elsewhere. The university is widely recognized for its integrative and interdisciplinary activities in water resources. Two cross-campus programs support these interdiscipinary efforts - the Institute for Water and Watersheds (IWW)  provides coordination of water and watershed activities among the 80+ OSU faculty who teach and conduct research in areas related to water and watersheds and the Water Resources Graduate Program (WRGP) allows students to earn interdisciplinary graduate degrees in Water Resources Engineering, Water Resources Science, and Water Resources Policy and Management.

Graduate Student Spotlights: learn more about the students who call OSU CCE "home"

Adriana Piemonti

Recent Research Activities

Ongoing research activities change annually depending on faculty interests and sources of research support. Examples of recent research projects include:

  • Fish passage facilities for dams on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers
  • Culvert modifications for fish passage
  • Morphology of gravel bed rivers
  • Evaluation of best management practices (BMPs) and low-impact development (LID) for highway and urban drainage engineers
  • Improvements to the EPA Storm Water Management Model (SWMM), Versions 4 and 5
  • Water quality characteristics of highway construction and repair materials
  • Hydrologic investigations at Yucca Mountain, Nevada
  • Fate and transport of organic compounds in aquifers
  •  In situ aquifer characterization methodologies
  • Interactive and participatory optimization for spatial design of best management practices in watersheds.
  • Development of a state-of-the-art computational framework and platform for the optimal control of multi-objective reservoir systems under uncertainty. Application to the Columbia River system.
  • Modeling of CSOs in combined sewer systems under extreme storm events. Three-dimensional modeling of air-water geyser flows.