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We INTEGRATE hydroLOGY, ecologY, and ENGINEERING TO STUDY watersheds around the globe. To that end, we combine hydro-ecological observations with mathematical models, Geographical Information Systems, and remote sensing technology.

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 research students

Joshua A. Benjamin (PhD Candidate, degree in Environmental Engineering expected in Spring 2021)

Josh photo.jpg

Dissertation topic: Desalination Energy Recovery through Pressure Retarded Osmosis: A Techno-Economic Assessment

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.

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


Dissertation topic: Plastic Pollution in Coastal Urban Rivers: Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Plastic Release and Transport

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. Her current research addresses the sources, transport, and fate of plastic debris in river systems, conducting field work in Florida and Cambodia.

Michelle Platz (PhD in Environmental Engineering expected in Spring 2021)


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. 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. Please check here for more info on her research.

Cody Stewart (PhD in Environmental Engineering expected in Spring 2022)


Cody’s current work is on stormwater infrastructure, more specifically baffle box efficacy, within the city of Tampa. He earned his M.S. in environmental horticulture with a minor in soil and water science from the University of Florida in 2018. His research at UF focused on the impact of nursery production practices on herbicide efficacy. Cody earned his B.S. in biology with a focus in ecology, conservation, and environmental biology with a minor in regional planning from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2016. As a McNair Scholar, Cody conducted undergraduate research on green roofs, where he evaluated the germination and survival of native Pennsylvania plants in a green roof setting. Upon graduating with his Ph.D. in environmental engineering, Cody hopes to pursue a career in academia.

Osama Tarabih (PhD in Civil Engineering-Water Resources expected in Fall 2021)


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. 


Hope Koutz (BS in Civil Engineering-Environmental Water Resources expected in Spring 2020)


Jessica Carlee Chaffin (BS in Civil Engineering-Environmental Water Resources Spring 2019, now at HDR)

Ruben Palomo Martinez (BS in Civil Engineering-Environmental Water Resources Fall 2019, interning now with Jones Edmunds and Associates)

Mohit Kaura (MS in Environmental Engineering, December 2018). Thesis: The Role of Forests in Securing Hydropower Needs in Cambodia.

Katie B. Castor (MS in Engineering Science/Concentration in Env. Eng., August 2018, now with FL DEP). Thesis: Regulatory Methodology and Unmitigated Wetland Loss in Southwest Florida.

Awet E.Tsegay (MS in Civil Engineering-Water Resources, August 2018, now with SWFWMD). Thesis: Underground Stormwater Treatment Performance in Urban Coastal Catchments: Case Study of Baffle Boxes in the City of Tampa.