Cyndi Vail Castro, PE

Hello! I am currently a PhD Candidate studying the integration of hydrological, societal, and environmental processes through complex systems analysis at the University of Houston, expected graduation 12/2021. I will then start my NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with Murugesu Sivapalan.

My research examines the role of water in coupled natural and human-influenced systems. I study the consequences of environmental and societal stressors through a mixed-methods approach, including geomatics, social sciences, remote sensing, systems-thinking, hydrological modeling, and stakeholder-driven mental mapping. By approaching human-influenced watersheds as a complex system, I investigate emergent phenomena that exist at the convergence between social equity, environmental justice, climate resiliency, and natural disaster mitigation.

I obtained my undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University and my master’s degree from The University of Texas (NSF GRFP w/ David Maidment), with an emphasis on water resources and geomatics. Between these degrees, I trained as a hydrologist and general civil engineer with AECOM and Jones|Carter Engineering firms for about 7 years. As a licensed Professional Engineer, I designed various forms of civil infrastructure and conducted numerous drainage studies both locally and internationally, including living in Ghana. I also served as a municipal flood expert for the City of Houston’s Public Works Department and Office of Sustainability, Recovery, & Resiliency.

My personal interests include partnering with various non-profit agencies for international engineering services. In my spare time, I have provided volunteer services for the United Nations, Inter-American Development Bank, Living Water, and several other NGOs. My favorite activities include hiking, camping, and backpacking.