Primary Research

Human-Water Systems

We have become increasingly aware that humans are an endogenous driver in hydrological systems, however, we are just beginning to investigate how best to derive meaningful relationships within such complex systems. I apply concepts from the social sciences and complex systems sciences to investigate coupled human-water phenomena and to describe patterns in a manner conducive to hydrological planning. My research includes tools such as causal loop diagrams, systems dynamics modeling, and agent-based modeling. I also focus on deriving and applying novel frameworks within the nascent domain of socio-hydrology.

Nature-based Solutions

While working as a graduate engineer, I helped design green stormwater facilities for Rice University. Unfortunately, the LEED components of the project were removed due to high costs and uncertainties regarding materials, construction, permitting, and long-term maintenance. I worked on several other projects where the green infrastructure components were removed mid-design due to social constraints.
Years later, I was given the opportunity to work at the City of Houston Office of Resiliency & Recovery through an NSF INTERN Fellowship. By working with lead flood control and resiliency decision-makers, I realized that the widespread potential of green infrastructure continues to be limited. For this reason, I have structured my dissertation to include practical green infrastructure planning by merging social, environmental, and hydrological geospatial datasets into an optimization framework.

Water Resources Management

Having performed water resources management services for several years as a private and municipal consultant, I derive immense satisfaction from being able to use applied science for optimal master planning in flood-prone communities. My interests including using novel data collection and analysis techniques while partnering with key stakeholders for optimal community planning. Part of my doctoral dissertation includes spatial optimization of green infrastructure throughout the greater-Houston region in a manner that is reproducible for other regions with widely-available, authoritative datasets. I integrate stakeholder participation into the planning framework while incorporating multi-functionalities of the engineered solution and robust hydrological modeling techniques.

Scaling

Many of the numerical principles we use in stormwater modeling have been derived from site-specific or laboratory simulations. When we attempt to scale this up to the regional-scale for widespread planning, underlying phenomena may break down. Standard practice necessitates ‘calibrating’ the models to observed water values, which poses issues when we lack long-term and robust field measurements. I am interested in combining bottom-up and top-town hydrological philosophies to investigate how dominant watershed characteristics change over different scales of interest, both spatially and temporally.

Geomatics

I am a self-proclaimed GIS nerd and enjoy all things related to geospatial data. This interest was spawned by an urban watershed planning project at AECOM where we designed a drainage network for the entire city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia after several fatal flash flood events. I learned about LiDAR cloud data, projections, data management, mapping, and spatial analysis techniques for hydrological engineering. Since then, I have specialized in curated ArcGIS tools for enhanced watershed modeling using Python coding and cloud-based datasets. I enjoy watershed modeling using a variety of tools, including the HEC suite, SWAT, and SWMM. I have created numerous drainage models for rural, urban, and international sites.

Other Interests

Remote Sensing

My interest in remote sensing began after visiting Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and being caught in a flash flood event where water rose to our waists, yet there were no warnings on the ground. I began investigating the potential for remote sensing to aid in global flood forecasting and wrote an essay on this topic for my NSF GRFP Fellowship. I have analyzed various remote sensing datasets for hydrological applications, including GLDAS, ECMWF, Sentinel, and LANDSAT. One of my methodologies using GLDAS rainfall data was adopted by the Inter-American Development Bank for stormwater solutions in Haiti.

Air Quality

As part of a project funded by TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) and the DOE (Department of Energy), I am working to better understand how optimized energy technologies might improve air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Particularly, we are investigating the potential of supercritical carbon dioxide for improved efficiencies of power processing facilities through a scaled pilot project. My primary interest in this project involves investigating long-term air resiliency in light of future climate change stressors and population growth.

Water Quality

While part of Dr. Hanadi Rifai’s research lab at the University of Houston, I was involved in assessing water quality through field data sampling campaigns (freshwater, sedimentation, coastal water, fish) for comparison to regulatory standards. This lab group specializes in environmental risk assessments for local agencies in and around the Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel.
I have co-authored a chapter in the “Rivers of North America” textbook to describe local riverine properties related to ecosystem health, biodiversity (algae, plants, vertebrates, invertebrates), hydrology, chemistry, and geomorphology. I also partner with the Oden Institute at the University of Texas to investigate salinity recovery in the Galveston Bay following compound flood events, such as storm surge coupled with rainfall-runoff, and how such processes impact the estuarian ecosystem.

Geomorphology

I have been primary engineer-of-record for several bank stabilization projects in Texas, including Buffalo Bayou, the main stream in Houston, Texas, and a portion of the Colorado River near Austin, Texas. I have also restored several channels throughout the greater-Houston are following Hurricane Harvey through a FEMA Disaster Mitigation program. For such projects, I work with geomorphological and hydraulic models to understand the mechanics of the stream and create designs that utilize natural materials, such as rock, native vegetation, soil layer lifts, and plant-based stabilizing fabrics. I am interested in future research projects that involve fluvial geomorphology.