Dr. Belize Lane
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Utah Water Research Laboratory
I received a Ph.D. in Hydrologic Sciences from the University of California Davis working with Drs. Samuel Sandoval and Gregory Pasternack, a M.Sc. in Water Management from UC Davis, and a B.S. in Ecology and Mathematics from UC San Diego.
I am interested in ways to more efficiently allocate scarce freshwater resources for humans and ecosystems under increasing stressors from climate change, population growth and shifting societal values. Rivers are increasingly viewed as coupled human-natural systems, but a gap remains in our understanding of how hydrology, humans, and river ecosystems functionally interact across space and time scales. Furthermore, appropriate tools to conceptualize, model, and manage rivers depend on the scale of the problem. My research group performs applied, interdisciplinary investigations to advance understanding of coupled human-natural hydrologic systems and apply this understanding to water management challenges. We employ a combination of field studies, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, geospatial and time series analysis, optimization and simulation modeling, and multivariate statistics.
When not studying rivers, I can be found rafting, skiing, and sledding through the water cycle with my husband and dog.
Dr. Anzy Lee, Research Scientist
Dr. Lee is working with Dr. Lane and Dr. Pasternack (UC Davis) to quantify the effects of geomorphological and topographic parameters on ecohydraulics and ecosystem functions. She primarily focuses on (1) developing a river archetype model that can accurately represent various geomorphological features observed in natural riverine systems and (2) assessing their impact on ecohydraulics and ecology. She holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University linking riverbed morphology, hydrodynamics, and hyporheic exchange processes.
Haley Canham, PhD Candidate in Civil Engineering
Haley received a BS in Environmental Engineering from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY in 2016. She worked as an Environmental Engineer for the USACE in Sacramento, CA until June 2020 before joining the WETLab for her MS. Haley’s research interests include investigating impacts of watershed scale disturbances on watershed hydrology, fluvial geomorphology, and river mechanics. Her research looks at the impacts of wildfires in the western US. In her spare time, Haley can be found on a trail or jumping in an alpine lake.
Megan Conley, PhD Candidate in Civil Engineering
Megan received her M.Sc. in Civil Engineering with an emphasis in Ecohydraulics and Fish Passage from Montana State University in 2021 and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Oregon State University in 2016. Megan's Master's thesis involved testing small-scale fish passage devices for use in small, headwater streams. Currently, her research looks at the movement of sediment in rivers and how it impacts the reintroduction of aquatic species in the south-central US. When she is outside the lab, you will find her skiing, biking, or on the couch with her dog and a good book.
Jose Castejon, PhD in Civil Engineering
Jose received his M.Sc. in Water Management and Environmental Engineering from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, in 2016 and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the National University of Honduras in 2013. Jose's M.Sc. involved the validation of a 2D hydrodynamic model to better estimate vegetation effects on water flow, combining both physical laboratory experiments and computational simulations. His current research looks at the representation of channel morphological attributes in hydrologic and flood inundation modeling, in support of the NOAA’s Office of Water Prediction. When not working in the lab, you will likely find him spending time with his wife and daughters, watching sports and movies, or enjoying a hot cup of coffee while listening to relaxing music.
Paxton Ridgway, MS Civil Engineering
While designing and building fluvial restoration projects in the Sierra Nevada, Paxton decided he wanted to improve his understanding of how wildfires threaten the hydrologic systems of the Western US. His research revolves around the impact fire and debris flows have on channel morphology of mountainous landscapes. He is currently studying the interplay of snowmelt and monsoonal influence on sediment dynamics within a burn scar in Colorado. Paxton received his BS in Hydrology and
Environmental Science from UC Santa Barbara in 2017. Prior to joining the WETlab, Paxton worked as an engineering technician for the Water Resources Division of the City of Santa Barbara and as a hydrologist for the consulting firm Balance Hydrologics in Truckee, CA. When he’s out of the office, Paxton is most likely exploring the mountains and fishing the creeks of Northern Utah.
Steven White, MS Civil Engineering
Steven received his BS in Environmental Engineering from Utah State University. As an undergraduate student, he was introduced to the California eFlows project where he began developing a methodology to generate synthetic river archetypes based on low-resolution, survey data. As a master’s student, he plans to refine this methodology such that it can be used to better understand fluvial ecohydraulics and inform water management decisions. Steven enjoys rhythmic movement through various mediums such as splitboarding, biking, and trail running.
Past WETlab members
Daniel Thurber, MS Civil Engineering (2022)
Daniel received his BS in Geosciences from Southern Oregon University. He first began pondering quantitative hydrologic questions at the age of 9. As an avid skier and kayaker, he has spent his whole life enmeshed in fluvial ecosystems around the globe. His interests include flow and flood forecasting and decision making for water distribution networks. He is studying karst mountain hydrology here in the Logan River watershed. Outside of the lab, he’ll be following the water cycle through mountain river systems wherever he can.
Noelle Patterson, PhD Hydrologic Sciences (2022)
After working in water quality policy at the California State Water Board, Noelle was eager to join in research that helps inform sustainable management of water resources. Her research primarily focuses on flow requirements to preserve ecological function of regulated rivers. Noelle received her bachelor’s degree in Biological Systems Engineering from UC Davis. In her free time Noelle enjoys outdoor adventures of all kinds, but especially rock climbing with her husband.
Madison Alger, MS Civil Engineering, Hydrology (2020)
Madison's research focused on how to more efficiently allocate water resources in the Blacksmith Fork River here in Cache Valley to support instream water needs for native fish species while maintaining irrigation and municipal water demands. Madison assessed the individual and combined effects of climate conditions, hydrologic setting, and geomorphic setting on instream flow needs in an intermittently dewatered agricultural stream with significant surface water - groundwater interactions. Her study involved intensive field monitoring of streamflow and water temperature patterns.
Betsy Morgan, MS Civil Engineering, emphasis in Hydrology (2020)
NSF Climate Adaptation Science Fellow
Betsy receieved a BS in Biological and Ecological Engineering from Oregon State University. Her interests include natural engineering within river systems and aquatic ecosystem management. She is researching the interaction of hydrology, hydraulics, and ecosystem response for improved management of the South Fork Eel River Basin in California. She enjoys engaging with others to develop interdisciplinary solutions that address societal andecosystem needs in the face of complex climate and environmental uncertainties.
Yesica Leon, MS Civil Engineering, Hydrology
Yesica received her BS in Agricultural Engineering in Lima, Peru in 2015. Since then, she has worked as a hydrologist for numerous engineering consulting firms in Lima. Yesica is developing a time series tool for extracting functional components of the flow regime from stream gauges to quantify hydrologic alteration in large complex hydroscapes. She is interested in the role of water management objectives and climate change in river functioning.
Jesse Rowles, MS Civil Engineering - Hydrology (2020)
Jesse received a BS in Astrophysics from Lehigh University in 2014. He then worked as a Systems Engineer at Raytheon until May 2019. He joined the WETLab in the summer of 2019 to combine his engineering experience with his passion for the environment and, more specifically, water, so that he can develop novel solutions to the vast number of issues facing river scientists and engineers. His research evaluates the feasibility of scaling river characteristic distributions of known river regions so that these distributions can be used to predict characteristics of unknown reaches of river. He loves animals, swimming, hiking, camping, and any other kind of exploration of natural areas.
Karl Christensen, MS Civil Engineering - Hydrology (2019)
Karl is using time series scaling, statistical analysis, and advanced programming techniques to extrapolate ecologically significant flow metrics to ungauged locations . He enjoys the complexities of water resources and wants to help solve problems faced by our current water infrastructure. He has always been passionate about the outdoors and usually spends weekends hiking, camping, and climbing. One of his favorite places in the world is Yosemite National Park in California.
Prior Postdoctoral Scholars
Dr. Colin Byrne
Dr. Byrne developed river archetypes across California. He has interdisciplinary interests pertaining to hydrologic and geomorphic systems at the interface of anthropogenic and ecological demands. In his free time, Colin likes spending time exploring the outdoors with his wife and dog, hopefully with a stream, river, lake, or ocean nearby.
Dr. Fengwei Hung
Dr. Hung developed a multi-objective systems modeling framework to integrate uncertain ecological outcomes into distributed water management systems. His background is in decision analysis, water resources engineering, and optimization. Fengwei has a PhD in Environmental Health and Engineering and a MSE in Mathematics and Statistics from Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Hervé Guillon
Dr. Guillon led development of a geomorphic classification for California. He uses data mining and machine learning techniques to understand landscape and near-stream controls on channel geomorphic settings. He previously completed his PhD in the Institut des Sciences de la Terre in France, and worked in the hydrology and glaciology laboratory Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement to discriminate suspended sediment origin.
JOB OPPORTUNITIES IN THE WET LAB
I am always looking for exceptional and passionate graduate students to join the WET lab.
Given the interdisciplinary nature of our research, students with a wide range of backgrounds are encouraged to apply, including civil engineering, hydrology, fluvial geomorphology, and river ecology. Primary prerequisites include a strong quantitative background, scientific curiosity, and an interest in river systems. Students should have experience or interest in hydrologic statistics, geospatial and terrain analysis, hydraulic modeling, water resources modeling, or field work. Proven experience with statistical analysis, geospatial analysis, and computer programming (including R and/or Python) is preferred. Students should expect to interact with diverse researchers and stakeholders in academia and state agencies, and may participate in field work. USU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and we welcome applications from underrepresented groups.
Utah State University, established in 1888, is a Carnegie Foundation R1 research institution and the land-grant institution for Utah.
USU is a highly collaborative community and a true research hub for river and water science. Funding, great facilities, equipment, and a wealth of expertise are available to support interdisciplinary graduate projects. You can find useful information about our graduate program and program requirements here: Civil and Environmental Engineering at Utah State University. Hydrologic and river science research at USU is enhanced by collaborative opportunities through the multidisciplinary Ecology Center (https://www.usu.edu/ecology/), which promotes ecological research at USU and hosts a graduate program in Climate Adaptative Science. USU recently established the Institute for Land, Air and Water (https://www.usu.edu/ilwa/) which connects interdisciplinary research groups at USU with state and local governments to best inform environmental policy. USU departments with high collaborative potential include Watershed Sciences; Plants, Soils, and Climate; Environment and Society; and Mathematics and Statistics.
The USU campus is nestled in a mountain valley 80 miles north of Salt Lake City, in proximity to excellent outdoor activities including skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, trail running, and hiking.
If you are potentially interested in working with me, please contact me via email well ahead of the application deadline. I will be more than happy to discuss ideas, funding opportunities, and answer any questions you may have. I welcome queries related to my current research projects but I am also open to new ideas, as long as they fall within the broad area of my interests.
I look forward to hear from you!