May Featured Grad - Dan Saftner

saftner web3 sml Meet Dan Saftner, a Master's student in the Hydrologic Sciences Program. His focus is currently on hydrogeology and the impacts of climate change on groundwater resources in arid regions, specifically Nevada and West Africa. 


What brought you to DRI?

saftner web2 smlI wanted to go to graduate school in the western US. I am from Pennsylvania and have always wanted to spend time on this side of the country. Nevada made sense for me because I wanted to study hydrogeology in an arid region, where the limited precipitation makes for interesting problems in groundwater sustainability.

What are you studying?

I am studying hydrogeology. Some classes that I am taking or have taken include Groundwater Modeling, Applied Linear Regression, Fluid Dynamics, Vadose Zone Hydrology, and Soil Biogeochemistry.

What research projects are you working on? And who at DRI are you working with?

saftner web4 sml

I am working with Dr. Alexandra Lutz, whose research focus is on the impacts of climate change on groundwater resources in arid regions, specifically Nevada and West Africa. My contribution to her work is to examine the seasonal variations of groundwater quality and level to provide a better understanding of the natural factors affecting the quality and quantity of underground water supplies in Niger.

What are your short-term and long-term goals while at DRI?

I’ll soon be leaving to conduct fieldwork in Maradi, Niger for nine months, so my short-term goals are to collect all of the water samples that I need and perform pump tests on all the wells that I will be monitoring. Another short-term goal is to enhance student interest in local water issues by having them help me in the field. My long-term goal is to use the data to create a statistical model and a groundwater model that will allow us to better predict future variations in groundwater behavior and quality in Maradi. I hope these models can be used to enhance access to safe and sustainable drinking water sources in the area.

Tell us about yourself. What do you do for fun?

I like to play music, go to shows, play softball (Go DRI softball!), hike, camp, and travel as often as possible.