Mines graduate student featured in AISES Winds of Change

Kenny Swift Bird, a doctoral student in hydrologic science and engineering at Colorado School of Mines, was profiled in the Summer 2018 issue of Winds of Change, the magazine of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

Swift Bird, who received his master's degree from Mines in 2018, will expand his work on groundwater contamination on tribal lands for his PhD. His advisor is Kamini Singha, professor and associate department head of geology and geological engineering. 

From the article:

As an undergraduate, a homegrown water problem piqued his interest in hydrology. “There’s a Lakota saying, ‘Mni Wiconi,’ or ‘water is life,’” Swift Bird says. “Water is sacred and one of our most basic needs, but many tribal communities lack clean, abundant water sources. Back home on the Pine Ridge Reservation, there are high levels of uranium and arsenic in soils and bedrock.”

Because the reservation is largely rural and many people rely on well water that may be contaminated, Swift Bird’s concerns are well-founded. As a master’s student, he was able to develop a project that bridged his academic interests with this real-world problem that affects people’s everyday lives. “Researching how contamination occurs in aquifers is a first step,” he explains. “Then we can move toward developing plans and treatment strategies to ensure people back home have access to safe drinking water.”

Swift Bird’s focus on that goal led to his current studies in contaminant hydrogeology, or how toxic substances like metals move through and concentrate in groundwater aquifers. His master’s thesis is based on understanding controls of uranium and arsenic contamination in groundwater on the Pine Ridge Reservation.