Straub Award Ceremony and Distinguished Lecture, featuring Dr. Tracy Mandel and Dr. Veronica Morales

Prior to our keynote presentation, we are excited to welcome and celebrate the most recent winner of the Lorenz G. Straub Award. Dr. Tracy Mandel completed her 2018 dissertation under Jeffrey Koseff at Stanford University. She will provide a brief remarks about her graduate thesis, titled Free-surface Dynamics in the Presence of Submerged Canopies. Dr. Mandel currently serves at University of New Hampshire as an Assistant Professor in Ocean Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Her research group uses experimental and field approaches to study turbulent environmental flows, with a focus on coastal hydrodynamics. 

Keynote Presentation: Transport Phenomena Under Spatial Heterogeneity: Bridging the Pore and Darcy Scales

Veronica Morales, Assistant Professor Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of California Davis

Abstract: Solving the flow and mass transport through environmental porous media is central to many technological applications spanning groundwater remediation, oil recovery, and geotechnical engineering. Under spatial heterogeneity, the phenomena of flow and transport significantly differ from those in uniform media. The variability of natural pore-spaces gives rise to complex flow patterns and non-Gaussian velocity fluctuations that complicate predictions. Classic models for the field-scale omit this variability and use average system parameters to solve governing equations for flow and transport. Such types of models might acceptably capture the average time of arrival of a substance (e.g., a groundwater contaminant), but consistently fail to predict the often-observed early arrival and prolonged tailing in concentration signals. Capturing the variance and skewness of such concentration signals requires more information than is contained in average system descriptors. To this end, this talk will discuss work carried out to represent large-scale transport processes as the collective phenomena resulting from interactions between the pore-scale heterogeneity and the local-scale flow. The first part of the talk will discuss the rules of particle motion ascertained at the pore-scale that are efficiently upscaled with stochastic models to describe large-scale transport problems. We demonstrate how our model accurately captures the changeover from intense to weak spreading, which is poorly understood but crucial for problems in groundwater contamination. The second part of the talk focuses on flow distribution and recasts flow path resistance into a graph-theory problem. Through this work we learn where and why preferential pathways form and offer a simple metric to estimate the time of first arrival based on structural information of the porous medium alone.

About the Speaker: As a hydrogeologist, Veronica Morales’s research focuses on the physics of flow and reactive transport in porous media with a keen interest in understanding how particles move and interact in confined spaces. In 2017, Morales joined the faculty at the University of California, Davis where she was awarded the NSF-CAREER and the AGU Early Career Award. Previously, she was a postdoctoral associate at the Environmental Fluid Mechanics lab at ETH Zürich and the Soil Physics group at the SIMBIOS Centre. She holds a PhD in Biological & Environmental Engineering from Cornell University (2011), and dual Bachelor degrees in Environmental Science and Spanish Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara (2004).

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Start date
Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 3 p.m.