Faculty Candidate Finalists

The Department of Ecosystem Science & Sustainability is pleased to host the following candidates for onsite interviews.
Search Chair Contact:
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Questions: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 970-491-5589

To leave feedback on any of our candidates, please visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ess_water.
Professor in Water Quality:
(click candidates' names to view curriculum vitae)

Jennifer Harkness, March 20-21
Research Seminar
Monday, March 20, 3-4 PM in A302-304 Natural & Environmental Science Building

"Discriminating between natural and anthropogenic contamination in areas of fossil fuel development: A multi-isotope approach"

Abstract: Fossil fuels continue to be a major component of the energy economies in North America, accounting for >60% of electricity generation in the U.S. Recent incidences (i.e. spills) and limited regulation of the fossil fuel industry has generated public concern about the risks fossil fuel development pose to water resources. However, contamination of water resources from natural (geogenic) sources has also been observed in many areas associated with fossil fuel development, so delineating the effects of anthropogenic contamination sources is a major challenge for evaluating the impact of fossil fuel development on water quality.  In three case studies, we integrate geochemical and isotopic (boron, strontium and lithium) tracers to investigate sources of groundwater contamination in (1) an area of shale gas development in West Virginia through time and space, (2) near coal ash storage ponds in North Carolina, and (3) in a region “beneficially” reusing coal ash as structural fill in Southeastern Wisconsin. These investigations illustrate the advantage of using multiple geochemical and isotope tools when investigating water quality impacts and presents a unique monitoring framework that can successfully distinguish anthropogenic releases from naturally occurring contamination.
Teaching Seminar
Tuesday, March 21, 9-10 AM in 201 Natural Resources Building

Teaching Seminar
Thursday, March 23, 10-11 AM in 201 Natural Resources Building
Research Seminar
Friday, March 24, 1:30-2:30 PM in A302-304 Natural & Environmental Science Building

"Controls on water quality and chemical fluxes in human dominated landscapes"

Abstract: People have directly altered the vegetation, topography and chemistry of more than 50% of earth’s ice-free surface. Impacts from these changes can be usefully explored using the watershed ecosystem approach. Working in dramatically altered Central Appalachian landscapes that are left behind by mountaintop removal coal mining, I demonstrate that throughout the region the landscape is flatter, streams are more perennial and saltier, and forests have been replaced with novel vegetation types. Using high spatial resolution remote sensing data together with high temporal resolution chemical monitoring I link water quality change in freshwaters directly to topographic and ecological change in the landscapes that they drain. Future applications of this comprehensive approach to watershed science will be presented, including novel approaches to measuring water quality in complex landscapes and hydroscapes.

research Seminar Monday, March 27, 3-4 PM in A302-304 Natural & Environmental Science Building

"Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) Characteristics in Metal-rich Waters and Implications for Copper Aquatic Toxicity"

Abstract: Free copper (Cu2+) is a well-known contributor to heavy metal toxicity in aquatic systems. The concentration and bioavailability of Cu2+ is influenced by aqueous complexation, with humic and fulvic acids being especially important ligands. This research focused on examining changes in the binding affinity of fulvic acid (FA) that result from chemical fractionation occurring during the formation of hydrous iron and aluminum oxides (HFO and HAO) in AMD/ARD impacted streams. The, unfractionated DOC remaining in the water column was found to have less binding affinity than DOC in aquatic systems without the presence of HFO and HAO. FAs used in this study were collected from three alpine watersheds in Central Colorado that showed variability in spectroscopic properties of SUVA254 and fluorescence index (FI) to correlate with aromaticity and DOC source. The binding affinity of DOC is related to its inherited aromaticity and for which lower SUVA254 (lower aromaticity) suggest a lower binding capacity of DOC and a resulting higher concentration of Cu2+ in solution. This variation in DOC-Cu binding affinity is likely a significant factor in copper toxicity in aquatic systems and in toxicological modeling programs such as the Biotic Ligand Model (BLM).
teaching Seminar
Tuesday, March 28, 9-10 AM in 201 Natural Resources Building

Teaching Seminar
Thursday, March 30, 10-11 AM in 201 Natural Resources Building
Research Seminar
Friday, March 31, 10:30-11:30 AM in A302-304 Natural & Environmental Science Building

"Transport and retention of sodium and chloride contamination from road salt in soils, shallow groundwater, and surface water"

Abstract: Road deicing practices have caused widespread release of Na and Cl to soils, groundwaters, and surface waters over the past several decades, yet the transport and retention of these contaminants in soils and karst aquifers are poorly understood. We examined the transport dynamics of Na and Cl from road salt contamination in soils and shallow groundwater over short timescales (i.e., storm-response) and seasonal timescales through laboratory experiments and intensive monitoring of an urban and a rural karst spring over approximately two years. Furthermore, we used a twenty-year dataset for the rural spring to determine how salt retention affected long-term geochemical trends in the shallow groundwater. Na and Cl transport rates in spring waters were governed by hydrologic pathways through karst aquifers: during winter and early spring storms, flow through preferential pathways rapidly transported salty stormwater on timescales of hours to days, while the remainder of salt-contaminated water was transported by slow, diffuse movement through the rock matrix on timescales of months to years. During floods, hydrograph separations revealed that event water (interpreted as flow along preferential pathways) constituted 61.2% of stormflow at the urban spring, leading to more extreme variability in salt concentrations during flood events and throughout the year, compared to the baseflow-dominated rural spring (only 28.7% event water). Furthermore, salt was stored in soils and then released to shallow groundwater episodically throughout the year during storm response as evidenced by first flush events and laboratory soil core experiments. A Cl mass balance indicates that Cl applied during previous winters persists within the springs’ recharge basins for more than one year, raising baseline concentrations as road salt continues to be introduced faster than it can be flushed from the basin. Inter-annual salt retention by soils or via slow groundwater movement is likely responsible for a significant Cl and specific conductivity (SpC) increase at the rural spring from 1996-2016. Accumulation of salt in shallow groundwater can elevate baseflow concentrations in surface waters, where it threatens aquatic organisms.