Water Management to Meet the Needs of the Twenty-First Century
Globally, our water supply is becoming increasing dependent on groundwater, but as a direct source and as a means of water storage. Climate change and population growth will only serve to increase our reliance on groundwater. To sustain groundwater supplies, we will therefore need to ensure sufficient aquifer recharge to minimize water-level drawdown. However, a larger threat to groundwater supply looms. In nearly every aquifer, a geogenic contaminant lays in wait within the sediments. The question is therefore not whether a contaminant exists within the subsurface but whether the guiding biogeochemical processes will lead to its partitioning into the water. Understanding, predicting, and controlling the soil processes that underlie groundwater quality are critical for sustaining our food and water in the 21st Century.
I am interested in the chemical and biological processes that govern the fate and transport (and thus cycling) of contaminants (such as arsenic) and nutrients (such as phosphate) within soils, sediments, and surface waters. My research group examines the chemical environments that develop as a result of both biotic and abiotic processes, and we strive to account for the physical complexity, inclusive of solute transport, within natural settings. Our particular emphasis is on reactions that change the oxidation state (redox reactions) and associated speciation of contaminants and nutrients, or solids that control their partitioning, within soils and sediments.
I teach a range of courses on soils and soil processes that encompass their rates of development, unique features for plant growth, ability to filter contaminants, management for sustained agricultural productivity, and their sensitivity to human disturbance. I am also a co-instructor for a course on field research in Earth Systems.