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Faculty Advancing Water Research



Nick Engdahl

Dr. Engdahl is an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering having joined the faculty at WSU in the Fall of 2014. Prior to that he was a post-doc at the Colorado School of Mines after completing his PhD at UC Davis in Fall 2012.

Link to CV/profile on Publons

Dr. Engdahl’s research spans a wide range of topics and includes field, laboratory, and numerical projects.

  • Groundwater age and residence time

The all water samples are mixtures and the individual molecules in a given sample each spent a unique amount of time in the hydrologic system to reach the sampling location. Understanding the shapes of these distributions and how they change is a key factor for predicting contaminant transport and is a characteristic measure of the heterogeneity structure of the flow paths.

  • Reactive solute transport¬†

Reactions can only happen when the necessary reactants mix and this is a highly active topic of research in the community. Our work focuses on using Lagrangian particle methods to make the most physically accurate models of reactions and transport processes in porous media. The goal is to use these detailed, small-scale simulations to develop macroscopic theories that work across a range of scales and processes.

  • Subsurface characterization¬†

Understanding the composition of the subsurface is crucial for accurately modeling flow and transport processes. We focus on using geological information and honoring the known tendencies of fluvial and alluvial systems to develop more realistic models of the heterogeneous subsurface. The subsurface models are constructed using a combination of cores, geophysics, and geostatistical techniques.

  • Coupled numerical simulations

The different parts of the terrestrial hydrological system are intimately linked but historically they weren’t simulated that way. We use high performance computing to solve flow problems where overland, vadose zone, and saturated flows occur simultaneously and directly influence each other. This can include land surface processes and reactive transport processes, allowing us to closely approximate the way the natural world works using a physics based approach.

  • Micro-plastic fiber dynamics

Plastic fibers are very challenging to study because they’re difficult to sample and observe, much less predict their motion. We’re working on developing numerical methods for predicting the motion of plastic fibers in the environment to help determine any long-term ecosystem impacts. This work aims to combine numerical, laboratory, and field work over the course of many years to develop an understanding of my plastic fibers move through different environments.