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McKelvey School of Engineering

EECE Seminar - Dr. Susan Hubbard

Friday, October 22 | 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Virtual Event

Susan Hubbard, Associate Laboratory Director & Senior Scientist
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

A Watershed Moment for Water Science and Technology

ABSTRACT: Increasing population and resource-intensive lifestyles are driving enhanced demands for clean water, food, and energy. In parallel, land-use change, climate change, and disturbances  - including drought, floods, wildfires and snow dynamics  - are significantly reshaping interactions within watersheds that influence water availability and quality.  While watersheds are recognized as Earth’s key functional unit for assessing and managing water resources, capabilities to predict watershed behavior in a sufficiently accurate yet tractable manner to guide resource management is lacking. Furthermore, are entering an era where US water storage and supply strategies are breaking down. Fortunately, emerging technologies offer the promise for cost and energy efficient desalination of unconventional water sources. 

This presentation will discuss both natural system and technology aspects critical for water resilience. A key focus will be on new approaches to reduce uncertainty in predicting how mountainous watersheds retain and release water, nutrients, carbon, and metals in response to snow dynamics.  Focused in the mountainous East River Watershed of the Upper Colorado River Basin, the Department of Energy (DOE) Watershed Function (watershed.lbl.gov) project is developing new ways of conceptualizing, characterizing and predicting watershed system behavior.  In particular, the project is using diverse data to identify key watershed subsystems or “functional zones” and their characteristics, which are being incorporated into scale-aware models to predict the aggregated, time-variable watershed discharge and quality in response to snow dynamics. The presentation will also briefly describe the new DOE National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) Hub, which focuses on transforming the ability to (re)use of non-traditional waters in a cost and energy efficient manner. With new science and technology advances, we now have the opportunity to seize this ‘Watershed Moment’ for advancing a paradigm shift in water resilience.

BIO: Susan Hubbard is a Senior Scientist and Associate Lab Director for Berkeley Lab, where she leads the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area. Susan’s research focuses on quantifying terrestrial system dynamics, with an emphasis on development of geophysical approaches and data integration strategies to provide insights about how hydrological, geochemical and biological processes interact and influence water availability, water quality, carbon cycling, and agriculture system behaviors.  
Susan Hubbard is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. She has also been recognized as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Geophysical Union (AGU), and Geological Society of America (GS). She has received awards from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG), and has served on many advisory boards, editorial boards and professional society committees. She was the founding chair of the AGU Hydrogeophysical Technical Committee and is currently the Chair of the Hydrosphere and Atmosphere Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Susan earned her PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley, her MS in Geophysics, and her BS in Geology. Prior joining Berkeley Lab, she was a geologist at the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park CA and a geophysicist in industry. 

Event Type



McKelvey School of Engineering


Science & Technology



Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering
Event Contact

Jesi Hempstead

Speaker Information

Susan Hubbard, Associate Laboratory Director & Senior Scientist
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

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