Civil engineering graduate students awarded water research scholarships

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Three graduate students in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University were recently awarded Mills Scholarships. The students, John Blake, Askarali Karimov and Gang Zhao, will use the $5,000 scholarships to pursue water-related research.

Blake’s proposed research will investigate and better define “green water,” which is generally perceived as the soil water available for plants to use, and its potential to alleviate the projected water shortage for Texas agriculture. Gaining a better understanding of the quantity of this abundant resource within the soil will open new avenues for agricultural irrigation conservation practices. The outcome of this research project would be a recommendation for a new dynamic water management plan for crop irrigation through the quantification and understanding of green water and how it relates to water productivity. Blake will be studying under Dr. Rabi H. Mohtar, TEES endowed professor in the civil engineering department.

Karimov is advised by Dr. Ralph Wurbs, Arthur McFarland Professor of Civil Engineering. Karimov’s research focuses on future water availability and allocations in the Rio Grande River. The purpose of the research is to extend and simulate the Rio Grande model using a modeling system and to develop short and long-term water availability scenarios. The benefits include drought contingency plans based on likeliness of storage availability in the Amistad-Falcon reservoir system for short-term planning and water conservation, and will provide quantitative water allocation analysis and potential water availability for irrigation districts ahead of time. In addition, once updated, the Rio Grande model system can be used to simulate various reliability scenarios based on future demands that will develop future water plans for the region.

Zhao is advised by Dr. Huilin Gao, associate professor in the civil engineering department, and his research focuses on the joint effects of climate change, urbanization and flow regulation on water supply in a metropolitan area. The goal of this research is to understand the general processes of these environmental changes and how they will impact our sustainable water resources management.

The W.G. Mills Endowment supports diverse disciplines pursuing research in water-related studies, and is used to assist current and prospective Texas A&M graduate students studying water resources and hydrology issues in Texas. Other students receiving the scholarships are Jifar Nata and Kimberly Rhodes of the Water Management and Hydrological Science program at Texas A&M.

Mills Cox, a former chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, funded the W.G. Mills Endowment, which provides the scholarships. Since 2001, the program has awarded more than $265,000 in Mills scholarships to 171 students involved in water-related studies. More information on the Mills Scholarship Program and the students’ projects is available online.