Mentors & Projects

For inquiries about research mentors and their projects, please look over the mentor’s webpages (linked to their names). If you still have questions, please email us at Please do NOT contact the mentors directly. Students who contact mentors may be removed from consideration for the REU.

See below for the REU research mentor list:

Research Mentors and Themes

San Francisco State University

Dr. Leora Nanus: Our watershed hydrology and biogeochemistry research group focuses on understanding interactions among atmospheric, hydrologic, and biogeochemical processes and mechanisms of pollutant transport in California and the western US. Recent and current projects evaluate ecological effects of water pollution, applying stable isotope techniques to distinguish sources of pollutants to watersheds, and vulnerability of the water-energy-food nexus. REU students will learn a range of field, laboratory, and GIS techniques to address issues related to groundwater-surface water interactions and aquatic ecosystem impacts. Click here to learn more.

Dr. Erin Bray: Our river hydrology and fluvial geomorphology research group conducts field and modeling research to answer questions that advance basic and applied understanding about hydrologic and fluvial processes that affect river flows, temperature, sediment, and water resources in California and the western U.S. We explore the linkages between water supply management, river flows, hyporheic exchange, stream temperature, sediment transport, effects of dams, fish habitat, water quantity and quality; and science that supports management of water resources and aquatic habitat in rivers and watersheds. REU students will have opportunities to conduct field research throughout the Central Valley and California Bay Delta system. Click here to learn more.

Dr. Yadi Ibarra: Our sedimentology research group investigates modern and ancient carbonate spring deposits as proxies of hydrological cycling in limestone settings.  REU students will learn field and laboratory techniques to map extensive carbonate deposits, conduct modern water measurements (temperature, flow, pH) and interpret depositional products.  REU students will learn to grapple with the challenges of rigorous field observations and the comparative relevance of laboratory analyses (stable isotopes, petrography, spatial analyses). These projects will provide a broad spatial scope for REU students to investigate sedimentary samples from the outcrop scale to their microstructural components for environmental reconstruction. Click here to learn more.

Dr. Sara Baguskas: An active area of research in my lab is studying how local weather patterns in coastal California influence stream habitat for juvenile salmonids. In particular, we use field research techniques to address the question: how do coastal fog events affect stream temperature relative to riparian shading and physical stream attributes in streams inhabited by juvenile salmonids? The project is collaborative and includes faculty and students at SFSU, researchers with federal and state agencies, as well as regional resource managers. REU students will have the opportunity to explore California stream systems and learn a range of field techniques to address issues that resource managers care about related to groundwater-surface water interaction. Click here to learn more.

CSU, Chico

Dr. Steffen Mehl: My research focuses on improving understanding of the sustainability of groundwater resources considering SGMA, which fundamentally changes groundwater policy in California. Groundwater simulation tools provide ways to explore the complex interactions between water management decisions, land use, surface water, and groundwater through simulated “what-if” scenarios.  REU students will be introduced to groundwater flow models (e.g. USGS’s Central Valley Hydrologic Model) and learn techniques for analyzing large-scale spatial and temporal trends related to sustainability (e.g., changes in aquifer storage, streamflow depletion, etc.).  Additionally, REU students will learn broadly transferable skills used with simulation models, like Monte Carlo techniques for quantifying uncertainty. Click here to learn more.

CSU, East Bay

Dr. Jean Moran: Our groundwater science research group focuses on quantifying sustainability of groundwater resources in California through the application of geochemical and isotopic tracers. Recent and current research includes characterization of recharge elevation in headwater/subalpine groundwater systems in the Sierras and Cascades, comparison of budget-based vs isotopically determined subsurface residence times in high use groundwater basins, and identification of the source and fate of nitrate and phosphate in agricultural and urban basins. REU students will get practice with field, laboratory, and GIS skills related to water sampling and geochemical interrogation of samples. REU students will join an active group of M.S. students and work on projects that address SGMA. Click here to learn more.

CSU, Fresno

Dr. Zhi Wang: Our Soil and Hydrology research group focuses on basic and applied studies about soil and water resources in the south Central Valley (or San Joaquin) of California. Topics include watershed and forest health issues, climate change effects on Sierra Nevada snowpack and stream runoff, soil and groundwater quality in the San Joaquin Valley focusing on salinity and water banking, soil and crop productivity and sustainability etc. We also explore the linkages between soil physics, hydrology, agricultural and industry practices. For example, we conducted a project linking groundwater salinity with crop coverage and flight training safety at Naval Air Station Lemoore. We are currently studying how soil salinity and clay contents in the San Joaquin Valley are linked to grape yield and wine quality, a project supported by CSU Agricultural Research Initiative. Click here to learn more.

CSU, Fullerton

Dr. Phoolendra Mishra: Dr. Mishra’s research interests include fluid dynamics, flow and transport in subsurface systems, well hydraulics, analytical and numerical models for multi-phase coupled processes, and parameter estimation and uncertainty quantification. Click here to learn more.

CSU, Northridge

Dr. Priya Ganguli: Our Water Science Group studies the transport and fate of contaminants in the environment, with a focus on mercury, a neurotoxin that bioaccumulates in the food web. Mercury occurs in a variety of chemical forms that influence its toxicity and mobility in natural systems. Our research, therefore, involves scientists from the fields of biogeochemistry, hydrology/hydrogeology, geomorphology, and biology/ecology. We also collaborate with social scientists and resource agencies to address questions relevant to environmental remediation projects. REU students will learn how to conduct water and sediment sampling events using trace metal clean techniques, conduct a variety of geochemical analyses, and assess data quality – skill that will prepare them for graduate school and the environmental field. Click here to learn more.

Dr. Scott Hauswirth: Our research group focuses on chemical contaminants in soil, sediment, and surface and groundwater, including source, transport, and fate, and novel remediation approaches. Recent and ongoing projects include the use of surfactants and non-Newtonian fluid additives to improve in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) for remediation of organic groundwater contaminants, and quantifying contaminant loads in Southern California watersheds. REU students will have the potential to learn field sampling techniques, as well as laboratory methods for chemical reaction and fluid flow experiments, extraction and chemical analyses. Click here to learn more.

CSU, Pomona

Dr. Stephen Osborn: Dr. Osborn’s research interests are in hydrogeology, low temperature geochemistry, and environmental science. His research interests broadly consist of utilizing elemental and isotopic analyses of multiple substrates (gas, rock, and water) to address fundamental questions of fluid and solute transport, biogeochemistry of solutes and radionuclides, microbial processes, and diagenetically induced water-rock reactions in subsurface environments. Click here to learn more.

CSU, Sacramento

Dr. David Dralle: Dr. Dralle’s research group studies how ecohydrologic processes are mediated by the hydrogeological structure of the critical zone – the living, hydrologically permeable mantle of weathered material from fresh bedrock through the canopy. We focus on development of new mathematical and remote sensing techniques, which we validate and test through intensive observational studies and collaboration with field scientists. Click here to learn more.

Dr. David Shimabukuro: Dr. Shimabukuro’s water resources group studies the interaction between oil and gas wastewater injection and groundwater resources. We use data from archived oil and gas wells to understand the distribution of saline groundwater, the stratigraphy of the subsurface, and potential well integrity issues. He also is a field-based tectonicist who uses mapping of field relations, geochemistry and geochronology to understand the earth. Recently, my tectonics group has been focusing on understanding the history and evolution of ocean crust, from its formation at mid-ocean ridges, to subduction, and to its emplacement as ophiolites in orogenic belts. My students have worked in Calabria, Italy; the Alps; and Northern California. Click here to learn more.

CSU, San Diego

Dr. Natalie Mladenov: Dr. Mladenov leads the Water Innnovation and Reuse Lab (WIRLab) at San Diego State. WIRLab trains and mentors undergraduate and graduate students from diverse groups to take on environmental challenges in water scarce environments by conducting research on sustainable water and sanitation technologies and biogeochemical processes in natural and engineered systems. Current projects investigate the transformation and persistence of emerging chemicals in anaerobic and aerobic decentralized water reuse systems, sources of anthropogenic contaminants in urban rivers,  water quality response to stream restoration, and rapid fluorescence-based tracking of organic contaminants in source waters, streams, and groundwater. Click here to learn more.

CSU, San Luis Obispo

Dr. Rebekah Oulton: Dr. Oulton’s research interests include advanced oxidation processes for removal of emerging contaminants during water & wastewater treatment; improved storm water management and low impact development techniques; and solar-powered desalination. Click here to learn more.

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