Student working at the eco-machine.

Water Resources Research

Water resources is an important sub-discipline of civil engineering that includes hydraulic engineering, surface water and groundwater hydrology, water resources systems analysis, contaminant transport, and environmental fluid mechanics. Common to all of these areas of study is the goal of understanding the physical processes responsible for the distribution of water in natural and engineered environments. The main motivation is that, in a world of ever-increasing population and industrialization, our relationships with the water environment surrounding us are of increasing significance.

Our graduates go on to exciting and successful careers working for universities, consulting firms, local, state, and federal governmental agencies, and national research laboratories. 

Research in the Water Resources Engineering group covers a wide range of topics and uses a wide range of methodologies, from theoretical to experimental (lab and field), to computational. Detailed descriptions of research projects are found at individual faculty members' websites.  


Health impacts of roadway dust and groundwater following treatment with oil and gas fluids (PI Warner, CoPIs: Chase, Grady, Braiser, Freedman, Burgos, Vanden Heuvel, Taylor, Wilson) Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute. July 1, 2018- June 30, 2020. $50,000.

What would the Susquehanna River Basin look like in a European Union Water Framework Directive? (PI: Raj, CoPIs: Grady, Chiles, Drohan, Gall) Institutes of Energy and the Environment. April 15, 2018 – July 31, 2019. $25,000.

Developing next generation solutions to mitigate the grand challenge of nonpoint source pollution. (PI: Duncan and Lintern, CoPIs: Grady, McPhillips, Winfrey). August 2018 – August 2019. $20,000 AUD.

Energy 2100: Ensuring a carbon-neutral, global energy economy. (PI: Logan; CoIs: Anderson, Brennan, Giebink, Grady, Rahn, Stewart). Strategic Initiative funds, Penn State University. $250,000. July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2021.

Examining groundwater-flood and soil moisture-flood relationships across scales using national-scale data mining, deep learning and knowledge distillation. (PI: Chaopeng Shen). NSF. $249,862, July 1, 2018 – June 20, 2021

Impact of oil & gas wastewater disposal on lake and river sediments. (PI: Burgos, W. D., Warner, N. R., Liu, X., Drohan, P. J., Vanden Heuvel, J. P., and Dorman, F. L.) NSF. August 2017 – July 2020. $330,000.

Respiration in hyporheic zones: connecting mechanics, microbial biogeochemistry, and models. (PI: Xiaofeng Liu). UT Austin (U.S. Department of Energy). September 2017 – August 2020. $240,000.

Robust EcoHydraulic 3D Modeling Tools for Rivers with Complex Instream Structures. (PI: Xiaofeng Liu). U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. May 2017 – April 2020. $180,000.

Three-dimensional computational modeling of turbulent flow field, bed morphodynamics and liquefaction adjacent to munitions. (PI: Xiaofeng Liu, co-PI: Tong Qiu). Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program. August 2017 – July 2020. $354,379.

Nature-like fish passage design for the York Haven Hydroelectric Dam. (PI: Xiaofeng Liu, co-PIs: Peggy Johnson, C. P. Ferreri). Cube Hydro Partners, LLC. September 2017 - August 2020. $600,000.

Examining groundwater-flood and soil moisture-flood relationships across scales using national-scale data mining, deep learning and knowledge distillation (PI: Chaopeng Shen). National Science Foundation. July 2018 – Dec 2020. $249,862.

Other Water Resources research projects include:

  • Mekong River network analyses
  • Watershed vulnerability modeling
  • Water quality testing and social behavior trends in international water and sanitation projects
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The Penn State Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, established in 1881, is internationally recognized for excellence in the preparation of undergraduate and graduate engineers through the integration of education, research, and leadership.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

212 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-1408

Phone: 814-863-3084