Postdoc uses hydrogeophysics to understand aquifers

Wyoming EPSCoR

For Mine Dogan, a geophysical engineer and postdoctoral research scientist with the Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology andGeophysics (WyCEHG), math and physics are the gateway to understanding the universe.

“I believe there is nothing in the universe that we cannot understand and/or model using math and physics,” she says. “Mastering these two fields gives one not only the knowledge but also analytical thinking and problem solving skills.”

Mine installs a pressure transducer at a field site in Mississippi.

Mine installs a pressure transducer at a field site in Mississippi.

She explains, “I like the way these two fields can expand people’s mind and provide new perspectives. Geophysics is not simply a tool that you can hit some buttons and get what you need. It is a field of science which requires knowing the theories, limitations, pros, and cons of each method.”

Dogan, who grew up in Turkey, developed her interest in math and physics at an early age and that interest led her down a path of varied research projects. She received her bachelors and masters of science degrees in geophysical engineering from Istanbul Technical University in Turkey, and her PhD in hydrogeophysics from Michigan State University.

She has worked as a geophysical engineer in coal mines in western Turkey, and contributed to research projects related to archaeogeophysics and earthquake engineering. Currently, her focus is on hydrogeophysics, particularly in regards to aquifers.

“As a geophysicist, I want to contribute to this growing field by introducing innovative approaches to collect and interpret the geophysical data needed to map the spatial and temporal changes in soil, aquifers, and surrounding material,” she says.

Mine (right) measures snow density at the No Name watershed in the Snowy Mountains

Mine (right) measures snow density at the No Name watershed in the Snowy Mountains

Her recently published paper, “Predicting flow and transport in highly heterogeneous alluvial aquifers,” provides a solution to a long-standing challenge of modeling flow and transport in highly heterogeneous alluvial aquifers. She and her colleagues coupled novel characterization tools and stochastic methods to provide the solution, which they hope will make a big impact in understanding contaminants in aquifers and developing effective remediation schemes.

Cutting edge hydrological research like this exemplifies Dogan’s long-term goals of “contributing to the deterministic aspects of hydrology by developing novel ways to collect, process, and interpret geophysical data.” She hopes that in doing so, she can “collaboratively provide solutions to hydrogeology-, groundwater remediation- and pollution-related problems.”

Collaboration with other scientists is a key reason she landed at the University of Wyoming nearly a year ago as a post-doctoral researcher with WyCEHG. She sought an interdisciplinary environment that would allow her the opportunity to collaborate with scientists across disciplines.

Not only does her passion for math and physics motivate her to push limits with her research, so does the potential future impacts of that research.

Says Dogan, “Being able to provide knowledge which will likely effect the lives of next generations is the mostimportant and satisfying aspect of my work.”

For more on Dogan’s work, visit www.minedogan.com, and watch this short film http://vimeo.com/112085751.