NSF REU: Response of Hydrological Systems in Urban Areas to Human Disturbance and Climate Change

INTRODUCTION

Greetings to aspiring scientists and engineers interested in urban hydrological issues. California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) is hosting a 10-week summer NSF REU program that will enable new research and educational opportunities for students from across the nation. We will encourage participants to compete for technical and policy-oriented positions in academia, government, and consulting industry and to provide optimal experience and encouragement for those continuing on to graduate school.  The specific objectives of this REU program are to: 

  • Provide students an enriching research and cultural experience under the guidance and mentorship of a core group of faculty with multi-disciplinary research expertise in fields of urban hydrology;
  • Increase the number of students pursuing advanced degrees in water-related fields, such as hydrogeology, watershed analysis, and hydrologic modeling.  Strong emphasis will be placed on recruiting about 50% community college students at an early stage in their academic careers;
  • Increase the number of underrepresented students and especially those that do not have access to research opportunities and/or professional development, providing exposure/training in research and opportunities for these students to pursue graduate degrees or employment; and,
  • Strengthen faculty collaborations in water resources to ensure that multidisciplinary research opportunities for undergrads continue beyond the life of the REU.

Research activities include investigations in 5 topical areas:

  1. Surface hydrology of urban areas,
  2. Climate driven changes in urban groundwater,
  3. Meteorology and precipitation along coastal urban corridors,
  4. Hydrochemistry of urban streams/hydrochemical methods development, and
  5. River sedimentation and restoration in California coastal watersheds

Training Activities include half day workshops held for undergraduate mentees covering:

  1. Computing skills in the Spatial and Temporal Data Analysis short course,
  2. Technical writing/abstract preparation, and
  3. Poster/oral presentation. 

Mentoring Activities include friday afternoon meetings between REU students, REU faculty, and graduate students. Faculty and graduate students will lead informal discussions related to career and professional development and challenges (e.g., why a professional discipline was selected for a career; how graduate school was selected; graduate school application; preparation for the GRE, etc.). 

Social Activities include three weekend social events that aims to create bonds between REU students and faculty peers. The first social activity early in the REU program will be a kickoff social BBQ.  The second will be an organized trip to hike up to the Griffith Observatory. The third event will be a beach outing at one of the popular local beaches.  In addition, we will host every Wednesday afternoon volleyball, soccer, and basketball events and every Monday we will host a brownbag lunch (food provided). Several social events are critical to the networking and bonding that are integral to this project. 

A combination research and training activity includes a four-day field trip through the lower Colorado River Basin. Faculty hosts will demonstrate geoscience and hydrology field methods for all students in the REU Cohort.