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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Post-Doctoral Scholars

Sapana Lohani

Postdoctoral Researcher (co-advised with Peter Weisberg)

Sapana is quantifying the effects of streamflow alteration and tropical deforestation using remotely-sensed data, and is evaluating ecosystem services tradeoffs between aquatic/riparian habitats and hydropower production in the Lower Mekong Basin.

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)

Doctoral Students

Ali Farshid

Ph.D. Student - Watershed Sciences

Ali is using his background in civil engineering to develop systems models optimizing instream habitat and human water uses. He seeks models that are sufficiently complex to represent ecosystems and acceptable general to be applied to other systems. Ali began his Ph.D. in 2018.

Christina Morrisett

Ph.D. Student - Watershed Sciences

For Christina's doctoral research she is asking: can managed aquifer recharge mitigate flow and temperature effects of a warming climate? She will be working in Idaho's Henry's Fork and working closely with multiple stakeholders. Christina began her Ph.D. in 2018.

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.

Master's Students

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.

Greg Goodrum

M.S. Student - Watershed Sciences

Greg is developing and validating a statewide habitat suitability model for Utah rivers using publicly-available environmental data. He will test the accuracy and generality of models to understand how many habitat variables must be modeled for acceptable models. Greg joined the lab in 2018 and previously worked for the National Park Service.

M.S. Student - Watershed Sciences

J.'s research includes field data collection and hydrologic / water quality modeling to highlight river restoration alternatives that best enhance water quantity and quality. He is monitoring and modeling Utah rivers. He began his degree in July 2016.

Former Graduate Students

Maggi Kraft - MS in Watershed Sciences, 2017

"Optimizing Barrier Removal to Restore Connectivity in Utah's Weber Basin", Post-graduate researcher, Utah State University.

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 Lindsay Capito - Undergraduate Student Researcher, NSF EPSCoR iFellow

2017 Michael Fowles - Undergraduate Student Researcher, NSF EPSCoR iFellow

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