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Water Science and Engineering Research Experiences for Undergraduates at Virginia Tech and Florida

Undergraduates – Are you looking for a way to gain research experience and get an edge on grad school preparedness? Are you interested in water? Then check out these two opportunities to spend the summer studying water science and engineering.  I know a couple of faculty at Virgnia Tech, and I can highly recommend working with them. The program at Florida sounds good too. 


Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
Application Deadline February 24, 2012

Applications are invited from qualified and motivated undergraduate
students (rising sophomores, juniors and seniors) from all U.S.
colleges/universities to participate in a 10-week (June 03-August 10,
2012) summer research in interdisciplinary water sciences and
engineering at Virginia Tech. We have already graduated 36 excellent
undergraduate researchers from our site during 2007, 2008, 2009, and
2011. Application materials, details of ten Research Mentors along
with possible research projects and other program activities are
posted on following website:

Example Projects:

Natural Attenuation of Contaminants in Groundwater
Hydrology and Hydraulics Impacts on Ecological Health of Surface Waters
Bacterial Contamination of Water Distribution and Plumbing Pipelines
Water Quality for Human Health and Aesthetics
Investigation of Occurrence and Fate of Organic Contaminants in a
Watershed Impacted by Urban Development
Hypolimnetic Oxygenation:  Coupling Bubble-Plume and Reservoir Models
Design and Application of a Real-Time Water Monitoring System
Water-Energy Nexus and Decentralized Water Infrastructure
Bioremediation of Oil Spills
Analysis of Patterns of Macroinvertebrate Density and Distribution
in Strouble’s Creek

Deadline for application submission is February 24, 2012. Successful
applicants will be informed by March 12, 2012. Please contact Dr.
Vinod K Lohani (phone: (540)231-9545; FAX: (540) 231-6903; for questions

The University of Florida invites applications for an interdisciplinary research program in water resources from undergraduate students in their sophomore, junior, and senior years, majoring in engineering or related fields in science and math. Selected students will conduct hands-on research projects for eight weeks, involving field/laboratory experiments, theory, and computer modeling. The students will be distributed across Florida during the program. This unique program combines research and extension experiences in water resources to help convey research results for better water management.
PROGRAM: June 11 – August 3, 2012. Includes all travel expenses, stipend, housing, and meals.
ELIGIBILITY: US citizens or permanent residents who are in their sophomore/junior/senior year of study. Students at non-research institutions and those who are underrepresented in engineering and science are particularly encouraged to apply.
CONTACT: Mr. Daniel Preston (
Deadline of receipt is February 1, 2012.
Application form and instructions available online at

Gifts for future hydrologists

Cross-posted on Highly Allochthonous

Doing some last minute shopping for the young’uns on your list? Want to inspire a love and respect for the natural world? Then take the kid outside for a hike up a mountain or splash in a stream and let them experience first-hand how amazing Earth’s landscapes can be.

But if you want to give something a bit more material, then here are a couple of water-themed books I recommend for kids. Most of these have been tested on my almost 3-year-old, so my age recommendations have only one true calibration point.

For preschoolers


“I pass through a gateway
of high stone palisades,
leaving the land behind.
Cool silver moonlight
sparkles and dances
on my waves.
I am the sea.

Thomas Locker’s Water Dance follows the water cycle with lyrical prose and beautiful paintings to accompany each store of water. Locker’s lovely paintings could also be used without the text, just as a way to point out waterfalls, storms, oceans, etc. and to spark a conversation with a young child about their experiences with rain or other hydrological phenomena.

Where the River BeginsMany preschoolers prefer listen to stories with a clear plot, and might have a hard time identifying with the sea, stream, and storm of “Water Dance.” If you think that’s the case for the preschooler on your list, I recommend another Thomas Locker book, “Where the River Begins.” In this book, two boys and their grandfather set out on a hike to find the source of the gentle, meandering river that flows past their house. They trace the river to a rapidly cascading mountain stream that begins in a quiet pond. On the way home, they get caught in a rain storm which floods their path. There’s some hydrology embedded in there, but msotly a clear narrative for the plot-driven preschooler. My daughter approves of this book.

A Drop Around the WorldFor early elementary age readers
A Drop Around the World
by Barbara McKinney is an amazing book that follows a single water molecule from raindrop on the Maine coast to glacier melt in Switzerland to a monsoon flood in India and back to the eastern U.S, with many more stops along the way This vividly colorful book uses the water molecule as narrator and has nifty little symbols for the phases and their changes. It also emphasizes the trans-cultural importance of water. Young readers can hunt for the water droplet with the smiley face hiding on each page. The last two pages provide a legend for the little symbols giving more hydrological info for adults or interested kids. There’s also an educators’ guide to go with the book. My nearly 3-year old liked looking at the pictures, but the story hasn’t drawn her in quite yet, so I’d put this book in the 4+ age range. Perhaps it’s that plot and character identification problem again…

Letting Swift River GoJane Yolen’s Letting Swift River Go tells the tale of the damming of the Swift River in western Massachusetts to form the Quabbin Reservoir in the 1920s and 1930s. The story is told from the point-of-view of a young girl who watches her hometown and the surrounding farmlands and forests disappear under the rising waters. I really like this book because it integrates issues of water and society within a compelling narrator with whom children can identify. I put this book in the early elementary category, but my daughter has enjoyed listening to the story, though it verges on the long side for her attention span. I look forward to many more years of reading this story with her and the discussions I am sure it will engender as we walk in the reservoir-side parks along our local Catawba River.

tree-rings-fleck.jpgFor older kids
One book I haven’t read yet, but which I am anxious to get my hands on is John Fleck’s “The Tree Rings’ Tale: Understanding Our Changing Climate.” Fleck is an outstanding science journalist at the Albuquerque Journal and water blogger. The early reviews of his new book have been highly complimentary, and I love the idea of how he interweaves a history of the Colorado River with the science of dendrochronology and climate change.

Though not exactly a fly-fishing or white-water rafting trip, or even a walk along your local creekside greenway, the books above still make fine gifts and may even spark inspiration in a future hydrologist.