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We study the linkages between hydrology, ecology, development and climate in watersheds around the globe. To that end, we combine hydro-ecological observations with mathematical models, Geographical Information Systems, and remote sensing technology.

Research Questions:

  • How do we sustainably manage and develop river basins in the Global South?
  • How do we integrate hydrology with coupled human and natural systems?
  • How do we design river flows for society's well-being and ecological restoration?
  • What are the effects of dams on surrounding ecosystems?
  • What are the effects of climate change in food-water-energy systems?

Who are we?

Based in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Florida, we are a group of engineers and scientists interested in practical research in watershed sustainability

 Principal Investigator

Mauricio E. Arias, Assistant Professor.

Growing up in the Colombian Andes, Mauricio thought he was going to be an anthropologist. Moving to Florida as a teenager opened his eyes to the world of ecology and engineering, and he has been navigating through those disciplines in his research in (sub-) tropical watersheds. After completing a BS and a ME in Environmental Engineering from Univ. of Florida, Mauricio moved to New Zealand to do his PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Canterbury. He returned to the US in 2014 for a postdoc in Sustainability Science at Harvard, before arriving to USF in Fall of 2016.

Graduate students

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Joshua A. Benjamin (PhD in Environmental Engineering-Water Resources expected in Spring 2021)

Joshua is interested in water, energy, and policy. He grew up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, before moving to Ocala, Florida at the age of 10. From there, he gained an understanding of the importance of energy and water security, having lived in both arid and humid environments. He pursued a BS in Environmental Engineering at the University of Florida, where he focused on developing watershed sensor technology in the Watershed Ecology Lab. From there, he did a short stint at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the Energy-Water Resource Systems group   before starting his PhD at USF. He hopes to focus on designing sustainable development methods for ocean power systems. Josh is a recipient of USF's Presidential Fellowship.

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Katie B. Castor (MS in Engineering Science/Concentration in Env. Eng., expected in Summer 2018)

Finding the best way to contribute to the protection of the environment is a goal and an ongoing experiment for Katie. After earning a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Florida in 2012 (with a minor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation), Katie got her feet wet at several companies before landing at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 2015. As an Engineering Specialist III at DEP and a master’s student at USF, Katie has gained an understanding of both the policy and technical aspects of watershed protection in Florida, and hopes to contribute to this field with her research on correlations between wetland loss and regulatory enforcement.

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Charlotte J. Haberstroh (PhD in Civil Engineering-Water Resources expected in Spring 2020)

Charlotte studied and worked on different topics of Engineering and Social Sciences in Europe, Central America, and the United States. During that time, she developed her passion for Water Resources Engineering, where both people’s and environment’s needs can be addressed. Charlotte completed a BA in Latin American Studies at the University of Cologne, a BS in Environmental Engineering from RWTH Aachen University, and a MS in Civil Engineering from USF. For her PhD, Charlotte is interested in modeling the input and transport of plastic debris in freshwater systems to contribute to the monitoring and management of plastic waste before it enters into the oceans.

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Mohit Kaura (MS in Environmental Engineering expected in Fall 2018)

Apart from being a die-hard environmentalist, Mohit likes to go trekking and travel different countries (So far he has been to 38 of them). He listens to classic rock and reggae. He reads self-improvement books and used to give yoga and meditation classes to fellow bulls. Mohit's ultimate goal in life is to be a 'society-serving monk'. Mohit completed his BS in Mechanical Engineering at USF and is developing a computer tool to assess the benefits of watershed protection to hydropower development.

Michelle Platz (MS in Environmental Engineering expected in Spring 2019)

As a participant in the Professional Practice Program at the University of Cincinnati, Michelle explored applications of the engineering profession, from facility engineering to hydrologic modeling and ecological research on methane emissions. Throughout her undergraduate education, Michelle discovered a love of research and a deep passion for marine ecosystems.  Michelle completed a BS in Environmental Engineering from the University of Cincinnati in the spring of 2017. For her MS in Environmental Engineering, Michelle seeks to pursue research investigating ecological engineering methods to restore coral reefs and protect the ecosystem services they provide. Michelle is a recipient of a NSF Graduate Fellowship.

Loren Plopper (BS in Civil Engineering-Environmental Water Resources expected in Spring 2019)

Loren is pursuing her undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering with a concentration in water resources at the University of South Florida. She is interested in the effects of human systems on surrounding ecosystems and how we can optimize these systems for pollution control. She plans to narrow down her field of interest within water resources through undergraduate research and continue on to her master’s degree in the fall of 2019 in Environmental Engineering. Loren has found her passion for humanitarian engineering through her involvement with Engineers Without Borders and hopes to find a way to implement her future work into helping others. She believes everyone has a part to play in improving the lives of the less fortunate.

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Osama Tarabih (PhD in Civil Engineering-Water Resources expected in Fall 2022)

Osama is a Ph.D. student at USF where he is interested in hydrology, hydropower, ecology, and the ecological responses of altered hydrology. Prior to joining USF in Spring of 2018, Osama was a Lecturer Assistant at the Department of Irrigation and Hydraulics, Engineering College, Cairo University. Osama has a BS in civil engineering at Cairo University where he worked as a T.A. until he obtained his Master Degree there in hydrology and water resources engineering at the same institution.   

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Awet E.Tsegay (MS in Civil Engineering-Water Resources expected Fall 2018)

For almost five years Awet worked on several water resources projects under the UNDP’s Millennium Development Goals in his country, Eritrea. He believes the greatest satisfaction comes from doing service to the under privileged voluntarily. In his mind drinking water is a basic human right everyone in the globe is entitled to. Therefore, after graduation from USF Awet intends to work on sustainable water resources projects in sub Saharan Africa where resolving water shortages is critical. For his MS he is interested in working on research involving the sustainable management of stormwater.