University of California, Davis
2018 SSMN Seed Grant Winner
2019 NSF CAREER Grant Awardee
Sloan Scholar PhD in Biological and Environmental Engineering
What is your area of research? And, how did you become interested in this research?
I am particularly passionate about understanding how and why groundwater contaminants move underground through soil and rock.
How did winning the 2018 SSMN Seed Grant benefit your research on groundwater contamination and your overall career development?
The work we were able to achieve in the summer was recently published in a top journal in our field, and is featured on the May 2020 issue cover.
Your NSF CAREER research is student-centered and focused on creating tools that make science more accessible to students and facilitate flipped classroom environments. Why have you decided to focus this part of your research on students and pedagogy?
My goal as a scientist and educator is to raise awareness and broaden overall understanding of how groundwater contamination occurs. Many concepts related to the fundamental principles for groundwater engineering (and STEM in general) are mathematically challenging. Therefore, I have proposed for the educational component of my NSF-CAREER to create an interactive visualization tool that lowers the math entry barrier in my area of expertise. Tools like this overturn traditional teaching approaches with student-centered learning activities. The goal is to have pupils first interact and visualize data to gain a conceptual sense of the problem, and then work on comprehending the math behind it. These types of inquiry-based pedagogical strategies have been shown to be effective at engaging students with subjects they otherwise find intimidating, and at helping them strengthen connections between mathematical equations and the concepts they represent.
What is your next upcoming conference and what will you be presenting?
The next conference I will be attending is the American Geophysical Union—the prominent meeting for Earth scientists. I will present the findings of a project where we studied the different constituents in produced water from hydraulic fracturing that could increase the risk for groundwater contamination in unlined or breached retention ponds on the drilling site.
What do you like to do for fun/to relax that has nothing to do with your work?
My partner and I try to spend as much time as possible doing outdoor activities to recharge and clear our minds. We love to hike, bike tour, and rock climb, all of which are activities with jaw- dropping backgrounds in the Sierras.
Edited by Selena Rodriguez