Research Focus: Water Resources

Faculty Engaged in Water Quality and Resource Management Research


Panos Diplas, Ph.D., Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1986. Research interests include fluid mechanics, sediment and contaminant transport through waterways, floodplains and wetlands and their interaction with structures, vegetation and biota; environmental, fluvial, ecological and infrastructure hydraulics; sustainable development; and hydrokinetic energy generation.


Gerard P. Lennon, Ph.D., Cornell, 1980, Professor. Research interests include ground water and surface water hydrology; fluid mechanics; and contaminant transport modeling.


Tara Troy, Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, 2010, Assistant Professor.  Research interests include the intersection of climate, water, and food; understanding the role of climate variability on water supply and demand; developing hydrologic models that incorporate human activities; and large-scale flooding.


Richard N. Weisman, Ph.D., Cornell, 1973, Professor. Research interests include surface water hydrology and sediment transport.

Flow Induced Particle Movement in Turbulent Flows:  A Force-Time History Formulation

Principal Investigator: Panos Diplas
Funded by the National Science Foundation

The dynamic interplay between fluid forces and particle dislodgement for flows over an erodible boundary constitutes a central problem in many engineering phenomena, earth surface dynamics, biological flows and industrial processes. For example, erosion, transportation and deposition of sediments and pollutants influence the hydrosphere, pedosphere, biosphere and atmosphere in profound ways. The main objectives of this predominately experimental investigation are to determine the key parameters and pertinent flow structures responsible for sediment dislodgement under turbulent flows. The basic premise of this study is that fluctuating forces and associated impulse due to the highly unsteady and dynamic nature of turbulent flow are responsible for sediment transport at near threshold conditions.

Scour at the Base of Retaining Walls and Other Longitudinal Structures

Principal Investigator: Panos Diplas
Funded by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program

Retaining walls are widely used in many locations around the United States to protect bridge abutments and other longitudinal structures (e.g., embankments) that encroach into waterways. The objective of this project, jointly carried out with researchers from St. Anthony Falls Laboratory of the University of Minnesota, is to synthesize experimental data obtained through the use of state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and employ a validated, high-resolution, 3D, unsteady computational model of scour to: 1) identify the hydraulic and geomorphic variables most influential in determining local and total scour depths at the base of retaining walls; and 2) provide needed advancements and guidance in the field of retaining wall foundation engineering and scour prediction and monitoring.

Assessing the Potential Impact of Tailings Released from a Containment Structure to Downstream Rivers and Reservoirs

Principal Investigator: Panos Diplas
Funded by the Virginia Uranium, Inc.

The propagation and reconfiguration of large amounts of loose sediment that are deposited within a riverine environment represent major sediment transport and river morphology challenges, due to the action of external factors or processes of natural or anthropogenic origin. Typically, such factors and processes include dam decommissioning, landslides, volcanic eruptions and mining-related activities. The objective of this project is to improve our current understanding of the mechanisms that control the propagation of fine-grained sediment pulses in alluvial rivers and the geomorphic response of river corridors to their occurrence. This will be accomplished through the development of a hydraulic, sediment transport, and morphological evolution numerical model.

Why Rivers Meander

Principal Investigator: Panos Diplas
Funded by Lehigh University

Meandering patterns have been observed in a variety of systems such as the gulf stream, glacial meltwater, atmospheric currents, and many others. What has not been satisfactorily demonstrated is why any of these fluid flows should tend to meander in the first place, rather than ply a straight course. The main objective of this project is to identify the mechanism responsible for meander instability tendencies through laboratory experiments and extensive field observations.

America's Water: The Changing Landscape of Risk, Competing Demands and Climate

Principal Investigator: Tara Troy
Funded by the National Science Foundation

Recent droughts in Texas, the Midwest and California have highlighted the increasing competition for water between agriculture, energy production, industry, household use and the environment; this is a critical economic and sustainability issue for America. This project is assessing the sustainability of water in America in the face of a changing climate, new energy choices and technologies, and economic and agricultural trends. It explores how water-dependent sectors affect and interact with the rest of the economy, and provide a conceptual framework to inform public and private decision-making on water allocation, infrastructure development and regional investments in water-intensive economic activities.



You Tube


Tara Troy You Tube Video
Research Overview: Tara Troy, Water Resources Engineering

One of CEE's new assistant professors explains how her work examines the inter-relationships between climate, hydrology and society