Hydrology graduate student wins DOE research award

Lauren FosterLauren Foster, a PhD student in the Hydrologic Science and Engineering Program at Colorado School of Mines, will spend next year researching the effects of climate change in complex terrain at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program.

The program provides opportunities for graduate students to conduct part of their graduate thesis research at a DOE laboratory in collaboration with a DOE laboratory scientist—53 awards were granted to graduate students across the country in this cycle.

Foster’s graduate research focuses on the impacts and feedbacks from climate change in complex terrain, and she will be continuing this work with Kenneth Williams, the lead for the Environmental Remediation and Water Resources Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

“More than one-sixth of the world’s population depends on mountain snowpack for their water supply, but there is currently a large gap in the scale of our climate change research,” said Foster. “Global climate models are unable to resolve the complex feedbacks in mountainous regions and observations rely on proxies to scale point measurements over larger areas. My work uses supercomputers to try to bridge these differences by modeling the East River near Crested Butte, Colorado, from 10m resolution up to 1km resolution.”

East River supercomputer model at 10m, 100m and 1km resolution (note: this image can be viewed with 3-D glasses to see topography).

Foster is currently working under Reed Maxwell, Rowlinson Professor of Hydrology and director of the Integrated Groundwater Modeling Center at Mines.

Maxwell characterized Lauren as a stellar student interested in the broader impacts of her work. “Never satisfied with just the science answer or engineering solution, she wants to know how best to communicate her results to stakeholders, managers and the public,” he said. “She is currently in Africa doing an internship to provide low-cost, low-energy filtration systems, providing an easy path to cleaner water.”

Steve Binkley, acting director of DOE’s Office of Science, says “the SCGSR program prepares graduate students for science, technology, engineering or mathematics careers critically important to the DOE Office of Science mission.”

Binkley also noted that the program is meant to enhance an awardee’s doctoral thesis by providing access to the expertise and resources available at DOE laboratories.

Foster said that she is very excited to spend a year working with LBNL staff and learning from Williams’ expertise.

Agata Bogucka, Communications Manager, College of Earth Resource Sciences & Engineering | 303-384-2657 | abogucka@mines.edu
Mark Ramirez, Managing Editor, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3088 | ramirez@mines.edu