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Department of Energy program recognizes Boise State doctoral student

William Rudisill

Geophysics doctoral student William Rudisill recently earned recognition from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program. Rudisill was one of 65 students awarded from across the US, and will use his award to collaborate on research with scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

At Boise State, Rudisill works with geosciences Associate Professor Lejo Flores to research mountain hydrologic cycles using high-resolution numerical weather models. The goal of this chapter of his research is to discover which sets of cloud physics equations work best, from a hydrologic perspective, for a study watershed in the Colorado Rockies.

“I’ve been interested in the hydrologic cycle of mountain areas since at least high school,” Rudisill said. “It started as a passion for the whitewater rivers of my native North Carolina. Mountains are the ‘water towers’ of the world that effectively trap incoming moisture from the atmosphere in the form of rain and snow, which allows for the great Western rivers to flow in the spring and summer. However, there are a lot of gaps in our knowledge about how we can measure, model, and estimate precipitation in the mountains, which is the area of study I chose to pursue during my Ph.D.”

Rudisill is from Gastonia, North Carolina, and earned his bachelor of geological sciences degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2015 before attending Boise State to complete his master’s in hydrologic sciences (’18).

“This research is exciting because it has some very clear testable hypotheses that can have real-world implications. The work I’m doing will inform how we can make weather models better, in addition to finding geographic locations where we need to better monitor precipitation in the mountains,” Rudisill said.

Rudisill said he is eager to continue his doctoral research with the expertise of fellow researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Through this work, he hopes to combat climate change using science and technology to help inform current gaps in hydrologic sciences as they pertain to mountainous regions.

“Climate change is real and that we need to better understand mountain weather and water cycles in order to adapt to a warmer future,” Rudisill said. “Climate change in the mountains impacts so many sectors of our society — the water available for the crops growing downstream, the number of days the ski area can operate, the habitats for the elk in the hills and the trout in the rivers — the list goes on, and the impacts can’t be overstated.”