Dr. Sarah Null

Aquatic Habitat, Climate, and Water Analysis (ACWA) Lab


Sarah Null

Associate Professor, Watershed Sciences, USU

Research Faculty, Ecology Center, USU

Sarah’s expertise is in water resources systems modeling, physical geography, monitoring rivers and aquatic habitats to support modeling, and understanding climate change effects and potential adaptations on water systems. Improving environmental objectives in systems models and validating models with innovative field monitoring leads to improved decision-making for water systems and river restoration for sustainable water management in an uncertain future.

Specialties: Water resources systems analysis and management; human and aquatic ecosystem tradeoffs, hydroclimate change

Sarah received her bachelor's degree in international economics at UCLA, master’s degree in physical geography from UC Davis. Her PhD was funded by an EPA STAR fellowship and is in physical geography from UC Davis. Prior to coming to USU, she worked as a scientist at Watercourse Engineering, Inc. and as a postdoctoral scholar at UC Davis' Center for Watershed Sciences.

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Graduate Researchers

Thomas Balkcom

M.S. Student - Watershed Sciences (co-advised with Jiming Jin)

Thomas's research uses field data and computer simulation to predict arctic lake temperature change and aquatic ecosystem response to climate warming. He began his research in August 2016. Study sites are near Alaska's Toolik Field Station.

Dave Betts

M.S. Student - Watershed Sciences

Dave joined the ACWA Lab in August 2013. His research focuses on monitoring, modeling and quantifying ecosystem services in coupled human-natural western water systems. Dave's background is in biology and conservation biology.

Maggi Kraft

M.S. Student - Watershed Sciences

Maggi started her Master’s degree in August 2015. She is using dual optimization to maximize stream habitat connectivity and water supply reliability by prioritizing barrier removal for migratory Bonneville cutthroat trout in Utah’s Weber River.

Johnathan (J.) Neenan

Ph.D. Student - Watershed Sciences

J.'s research includes field data collection, hydrologic and water quality modeling, and systems optimization modeling to highlight river restoration alternatives that best enhance water quantity and quality given project costs as constraints. He is monitoring and modeling Utah rivers. He began his doctorate degree in July 2016.

  • USU Quinney Graduate Fellow

Liana Prudencio

Ph.D. Student - Watershed Sciences

Liana started her doctorate degree in January 2016. She is modeling the effects of stormwater management on water supply and water quality in Utah's Salt Lake Valley. Liana's background is in journalism and sociology.

Jessica Dzara (Wood)

M.S. Student - Civil and Environmental Engineering (co-advised with Brett Roper)

Jessica joined the ACWA lab in June 2015. Her research focuses on the thermal regime of western American rivers. She is quantifying thermal variability in Nevada’s Walker River and monitoring and modeling Oregon’s Meadow Creek (in the Starkey Experimental Forest) to understand stream temperature interactions with climate change and river restoration.

Post-Doctoral Scholars

Michaela Teich

Postdoctoral Researcher (co-advised with Jim Lutz)

Michaela is studying the evolution of seasonal snowpacks in different forest ecosystems, including forests that have been recently disturbed by bark beetles and fire, and linking them to snowmelt and water supply.

  • Advanced Postdoc Mobility Fellowship. Swiss National Science Foundation (2017-2018)

Undergraduate Researchers

Lindsay Capito

B.S. Student - Management and Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems

Lindsay is measuring aquatic habitat and comparing it with modeled estimates to support local fisheries and systems modeling.

  • NSF EPSCoR iFellow

Michael Fowles

B.S Student - Applied Environmental Geoscience (Weber State University)

Mike is measuring geomorphic condition and comparing it with modeled estimates to support local fisheries and systems modeling.

  • NSF EPSCoR iFellow

Former Graduate Students

Nathaniel Mouzon - MS in Aquatic Ecology, 2016

"Effects of Environmental Water Rights Purchases on Dissolved Oxygen, Stream Temperature, and Fish Habitat", Environmental Scientist, St. Johns River Water Management District, Palatka, FL.

Logan Elmore - MS in Watershed Sciences, 2015

"Effects of Environmental Water Transfers on Stream Temperatures", Water Quality and Environmental Compliance Specialist, Tennessee American Water, Chattanooga, TN.

Other Previous Advisees

2017 Katelyn Boyer - Undergraduate Student Researcher

2016 Heather Bottelberghe - Undergraduate Student Researcher, NSF EPSCoR iFellow

2016 Andrew Hackett - Undergraduate Student Researcher, NSF EPSCoR iFellow (Weber State University)

2015 Jamie Vawdrey - Undergraduate Student Researcher, NSF EPSCoR iFellow

2014-2015 MacKenzie Brown Harris - Undergraduate Student Researcher

2014-2015 Tim Beach - Undergraduate Student Researcher, NSF EPSCoR iFellow

2014 Alex Beck - Quinney College Research Experiences for Undergraduates scholar (Appalachian State University)

2013 Kari Norman - Undergraduate Student Researcher, NSF EPSCoR iFellow

2012-2013 Masih Akhbari - Postdoctoral Scholar