Ecological Engineering Students

Graduate Students


Nudthawud Homtong (Dew)

DewDew earns a Royal Thai Scholarship for a PhD study in Hydrogeology at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is a faculty member at Geotechnology Department, Faculty of Technology, Khon Kaen University, Thailand. Dew graduated from University of Colorado-Boulder (B.A.Geology, Minor: Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences) in 2013. He is now a PhD student, working under a supervision of Prof.Zhongbo Yu and Prof.Kumud Acharya - with a research topic of "Climate Change and Anthropogenic Impacts on Hydrological System in the Lower Mekong River Basin".

Aili Sun

AiliAili got his Bachelor in Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering from North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power, Zhenzhou, China in 2011. He is continuing his study in a Master-through-Doctor program of hydrology and water resources at Hohai University, Nanjing. His research interests include impact of variation of climate and land use type in watershed on formation of headwaters and hydrologic simulation. To further his research, Aili joined the Ecological Engineering program at Desert Research Institute as a visiting Ph.D scholar In September 2014 and now focuses on hydrologic response to changing climate and land use/land cover in large river watersheds.


Past Students

Emma Ruhmann

EmmaEmma received a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science concentrating in Geology and Chemistry in 2010 from Saint Louis University. Prior to coming to DRI, Emma worked as a green building consultant for a general contracting company in St. Louis, Missouri. There she received her LEED AP BD+C Accreditation (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, Building Design and Construction). During her time as a consultant, Emma traveled to the Middle East as a part of a multi-billion dollar, 76 acre downtown sustainable redevelopment project. Currently Emma is working towards her Masters of Science degrees in Water Resource Management at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Desert Research Institute and her research focuses on the threat of invasive Quagga mussels in Lake Tahoe.

Xiaolu Wei

XiaoluXiaolu Wei received the Bachelor’s Degree of Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering from Hohai University, China. In the spring of 2011 she obtained a wonderful chance to come to Desert Research Institute as a short term visiting scholar. During that period, her study aimed at establishing the correlationship between the economic growth and water quality in Lake Taihu, China. Subsequently, she finished her undergraduate thesis based on this research. Meanwhile, she was also involved in research about applying bio-manipulation approaches to combat eutrophication problems and improve water quality in Lake Taihu. Xiaolu is now pursuing a master degree in Water Resources Management at UNLV, focusing on distribution of Selenium from Las Vegas Wash to Lake Mead.

Melissa Thaw

altMelissa holds a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian studies from Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Oregon. As part of her degree she studied Mandarin Chinese during an overseas program at Guangxi Normal University in Guilin, China. She returned to China during her senior year to conduct interviews for her senior thesis. She subsequently studied mathematics and natural science at Lake Tahoe Community College, South Lake Tahoe. Melissa has previously assisted with limnology and climate change research at DRI examining black carbon concentrations in ice and liquid water samples. She has also worked as a research intern at U.C. Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center where she assisted in Lake Tahoe research including conducting experiments on Asian clams (Corbicula fluminea). Melissa will be focusing her research on Lake Mead Quagga mussels while pursuing a Masters in Science in Water Resources Management at UNLV.

Knut Mehler

knutMM.S. (2008): Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena, Germany
B.S. (2005): Geography, Geology, and Ecology – University of Jena, GermanyAfter receiving his Bachelor in Geography Knut spent 4 months at the Desert Research Institute analyzing water samples for phosphorus from different locations of the Las Vegas Wash. After he finished his masters in soil science he decided to come back to DRI in the summer of 2009. Knut is currently a Ph.D student at the Department of Geoscience of University of Nevada Las Vegas. His interests include nutrient cycles; particularly carbon and nitrogen cycles in soil and freshwater ecosystems and how those cycles might be affected by human impacts and the ongoing climate change.

Mahesh Bhattarai

altI joined University of Nevada Reno in 2008 as a Ph.D. student in Graduate Program of Hydrologic Sciences. I’ve Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering and Master of Science Degree in Environmental Engineering. After earning master degree in 1997 from Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois I worked as a lecturer in Tribhuvan University, Nepal and also as a professional engineer. During those eleven years I worked in dozens of researches and projects related to water quality and wastewater engineering. Currently I’m working under the supervision of Dr. Kumud Acharya on Impact of Climate Change on Lake Mead Water Quality. This research intends to assess the sediment load and consequent nutrient, carbon and selenium loads from Las Vegas Watershed to Las Vegas Wash and to the Lake Mead due to precipitation extremes. Sediment loads will be assessed using the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment Tool (AGWA), which uses SWAT and KINEROS2. Research also aims to establish a threshold precipitation extreme with respect to erodibility.

Achyut Adhikari

altBS (1999):  Biology and Environment, Tribhuwan University, Nepal
MS (2001): Ecology, Natural Resource Management, Tribhuwan University, Nepal
MS (2006): Resource Economics, Research and Project Planning in Natural Resources, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

Achyut spent 5 Years working as a Research Associate, Programme officer and Wetlands Biologist with NGO, INGO’s working on Natural Resource Management (UNDP, IUCN, and LI-BIRD, PROPUBLIC). In January 2008, he began pursuing a PhD degree in Geoscience at UNLV with a research focus on assessment and monitoring of Wetlands for Water Quality and water resource management in the Las Vegas Watershed.

Lynn Schwaebe

Lynn is currently working on Quagga mussel project mostly focusing on veligers.

Carolyn Link (currently with Marrone Bio Innovations)

altCarolyn's research interests include aquatic ecology and chemistry. As an undergraduate student at Northern Arizona University, Carolyn worked in an aquatic ecology lab studying the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon, and also researched U-series disequilibria using ICPMS. After finishing her B.S. in Environmental Chemistry while abroad at the University of Hull, England, Carolyn began working in aquatic animal husbandry and life support monitoring. As part of beginning a master's program in Water Resource Management, she currently studies the ecology of the Quagga Mussel in Lake Mead.

Candi Schulman
Chunyan Tang

ChunyanTangChunyan received Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Engineering in 2010 from Hohai University, China. She is currently enrolled in Master-through-Doctor program of environmental science at Hohai University, China. Her research interest involves limnology and numerical models. Her goal is to improve understanding influence of environmental changes on eco-hydrologic processes and the cause of eutrophication quantitatively. In September 2013, she joined the Ecological Engineering program at Desert Research Institute as a visiting Ph.D. student. Her ongoing research focuses on the uncertainty and sensitivity analysis of three dimensional Environmental Fluid Dynamic Code (EFDC) model and to evaluate the impact of water transfer projects in Lake Taihu.

Binquan Li

altBinquan got his Bachelor in Hydrology and Water Resources from Hohai University, China. He has continued his study in a Master-through-Doctor program of hydrology. His research areas are distributed precipitation-runoff modeling and Bayesian-based uncertainty assessment in flood forecasting for Chinese basins such as Yellow River and Nen River. In September 2010, Binquan joined the Ecological Engineering program at Desert Research Institute as a visiting scientist. Currently, his research interests at DRI include watershed hydrological model, multi-source precipitation data assimilation and effects of climate variations and human activities on runoff.

Lili Zhao

altI received my Bachelor’s Degree in Hydraulic and hydropower engineering from Agricultural University of Hebei, China in 2008. Afterwards, I continued my further study in a Master-Doctor combined program of Hydrology and water resources at Hohai University. In 2010, through a rigid academia evaluation process organized by the China Scholarship Council, I was awarded as a joint Ph.D student to pursue my study in the Ecological Engineering Program of Desert Research Institute. Currently, my research interests include evaluation on potential climate change impacts on lakes hydrodynamics and water quality. I am also interested in developing coupled hydrological and atmospheric models.


NSF REU Summer Fellows

2013, Elle Law, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
2012, Mary DeVita, Chaminade University of Honolulu
2011, Trea LaCroix, University of Nevada Reno
2009, Christine Simmons, Villanova University
2008, Susan O'Neill, Washington State University


Undergraduate Summer Student

Kristina Hsu, American University Washington D.C.
TreaTrea LaCroix, University of Nevada Reno

Assisting on various research projects, e.g. Tamarisk and Quagga Mussles, and Algae Biofuel projects.


High School Summer Students

Matthew Pohlmann, Coronado High School
Jessica Joseph, Valley High School
Allen Yu, Coronado High School


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