Dr. Karletta Chief is an Assistant Professor and Assistant Specialist in the Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ. As an assistant professor, the goal of her research is to improve our understanding, tools, and predictions of watershed hydrology, unsaturated flow in arid environments, and how natural and human disturbances affect soil hydrology through the use of physically based methods. Dr. Chief research also focuses on how indigenous communities will be affected by climate change and collaborated in an interdisciplinary group of scientists including hydrologists, system dynamic modelers, and social scientists to determine how hydrological models can be improved to identify and mitigate risks to these vulnerable populations. As an extension specialist, she works to bring relevant science to Native American communities in a culturally sensitive manner by providing hydrology expertise, transferring knowledge, assessing information needs, and developing applied science projects.
Dr. Chief is originally from Black Mesa, AZ and grew up on the Navajo Nation. Dr. Chief graduated from Page High School in 1994 and is a first generation college graduate. She received a B.S. and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University in 1998 and 2000. As a National Science Foundation Doctoral Fellow, Dr. Chief received her Ph.D. in Hydrology and Water Resources in the School of Engineering at the University of Arizona (UA) in 2007. Her Ph.D. minor was Soil, Water, and Environmental Science. She completed her post-doctorate at Desert Research Institute in the Division of Hydrologic Sciences in Las Vegas, NV where she worked on large weighing lysimeters at the Scaling Environmental Processes in Heterogeneous Arid Soils (SEPHAS) Project in Boulder City (www.sephas.dri.edu).
Dr. Chief was awarded the John Rainer American Indian Leadership Award, Stanford University Minority Alumni Task Force Featured Alumni, University of Arizona Centennial Doctoral Student Award, Arizona Hydrological Society Scholar, and 2010 American Indian Science and Engineering Society “Most Promising Engineer/Scientist of the Year.”
Education and Training
Ph.D. 2007 Univ. of Arizona Hydrology and Water Resources
(Vadose Zone Hydrology) Minor in Soil, Water, and Environmental Sciences
M.S. 2000 Stanford Univ. Civil and Environmental Engineering
B.S. 1998 Stanford Univ. Civil and Environmental Engineering
My current research interests include the spatial and temporal characterization of soil air permeability and hydraulic properties of arid soils to improve our understanding of the dynamic processes that control the movement of air, water, CO2, and contaminants in soils using a multidisciplinary approach; lysimetry, watershed characterization; climate change impacts; environmental policy; and water availability for developing communities.
Research and Professional Experience
|8/2011||Assistant Professor, University of Arizona, Department of Soil, Water, and Environmental Sciences, Tucson, AZ|
|2007-2011||Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Desert Research Institute (DRI), Division of Hydrologic Sciences (DHS), Nevada System of Higher Education|
|2007||Hydrologist, Brown and Caldwell Consulting, Division of Water Resources, Tucson, Arizona|
|2003-2007||Graduate Research Assistant, Univ. of Arizona, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources|
|2002||Graduate Assistant, Univ. of Arizona Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA).|
|2002||Research Intern, Navajo Nation, Department of Water Resources|
|1999||Environmental Engineering Intern, Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C.|
|1998-2000||Research Assistant, Stanford Univ., Civil and Environmental Engineering|
|1998||Environmental Engineering Intern, HDR Engineering, Phoenix, AZ|
|1997-1998||Stanford Undergraduate Research Fellow, Stanford Univ., Civil and Environmental Engineering|
|July 2010||Co- Instructor, University of Nevada Reno, Reno, NV,“Interdisciplinary Modeling: Water-Related Issues” Short Course|
|July 2009||Co-Organizer and Instructor, Diné Tribal College, Navajo Nation Navajo, Shiprock, NM, “Watershed Hydrology and Restoration” Short Course|
|2009||Co-Lecturer, Univ. of Nevada Las Vegas, Geosciences Department, Graduate Course, GEOL 719 “Vadose Zone Hydrology”|
|2002-2007||Graduate Teaching Assistant, Univ. of Arizona, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, Undergraduate Courses, HWR 201: “Water Science and the Environment” and HWR 202: “The Water Cycle”|
|1998||Teacher, Stanford Univ., School of Engineering, Pre-College Math Institute, “Algebra & Trigonometry”|
|1995||Teacher, Stanford Univ., American Indian Program Office, American Indian Summer Immersion Program, “Calculus I”|
Collaborators and Affiliations
(i) Collaborators and Co-Editors: M.H. Young, Bureau of Economic Geology, Univ. of TX Austin; K. Acharya, M. Berli, L. Chen, M. Gautam, D. Shafer, and Jianting Zhu, Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Reseach Institute, Las Vegas, NV; Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Reseach Institute, Las Vegas, NV; William J. Smith, Jr., School of Environmental and Public Affairs, University of Nevada, Las Vegas; M. Stone, Department of Civil Engineering, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; S.L.E. Desilets, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; B. Ekwurzel, Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington D.C.; T.P.A. Ferré, Ty P.A., Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; A.C. Hinnell, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; B. Nijssen, 3TIER Environmental Forecast Group, Inc., Seattle, WA.
(ii) Graduate Advisors and Postdoctoral Sponsors: J.O. Leckie, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford Univ., Stanford, CA; T.P.A. Ferré, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and M.H. Young, Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas Austin, Austin, TX.
- Steering Committee Member, Nevada Infrastructure for Climate Change, Education, and Outreach to Nevada Native American Tribes, National Science Foundation, 2009-present.
- Educational Outreach, Scaling Environmental Processes in Heterogeneous Arid Soils (SEPHAS) Weighing Lysimeter Facility, 2007-present.
- Convener, American Geophysical Union, Vadose Zone Hydrology Graduate Poster Session, Fall Meeting, 2008.
- Reviewer, Soil Science Society of America, 2008-present; Geoderma, 2009-present; and Soil Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 2010.
- Co-organizer, Desert Reseach Institute and Nevada Water Resources Association 2008 Symposium on “Understanding Near-Surface Environmental Processes,” April 2008.
- National Representative, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, 2007-2008
- Developed Soil Corer Air Permeameter, Vadose Zone J., 2006.
- Education Outreach Coordinator, Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment for K-12 Native American Science and Math Programs, 2002.
Professional Activities and Certifications
Environmental and Water Resources Institute, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Geophysical Union, Soil Science Society of America, Geological Society of America, Arizona Hydrological Society, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Engineering-in-Training Certification (Registration # 09158), December 10, 2003
Honors and Awards
- 2010 American Indian Science and Engineering Society “Most Promising Engineer/Scientist of the Year”
- 2007 Univ. of Arizona School of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Assistant
- 2007 Department of Hydrology & Water Resources Student Interface Award
- 2006 Univ. of Arizona Marshall Foundation Dissertation Fellow
- 2006 John Rainer American Indian Leadership Award
- 2005 Univ. of Arizona Computer Science, Engineering, & Mathematics Scholar
- 2004 Stanford Univ. Minority Alumni Task Force Featured Alumni
- 2003 Univ. of Arizona Centennial Award for Doctoral Students
- 2003 Arizona Hydrological Society Scholar
- 2003 American Indian Science and Engineering Society EPA Tribal Lands Scholar
- 2010 National Science Foundation EPSCoR Seed Grant “Evaluating the Vulnerability of Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Water Rights under Climate Change”
- 2010 Army Corp of Engineers Urban Flood Demonstration Program “Post-Fire Debris Flow in the Southwestern US – An Increase in Risk due to Climate Change?”
- 2009 National Science Foundation RAPID Grant “Fire-Induced Changes of Soil Structure: Implications for Soil Hydraulic Properties and Coupled Erosion by Water and Wind”
- 2009 National Science Foundation Experimental Programs to Stimulate Competitive Research Tri-State Innovative Working Group “The effects of climate change on ecosystems and societies: A Focus on Native American and Hispanic communities”
- 2009 Desert Reseach Institute Course Development Teaching Grant “Vadose Zone Methods”
- 2000 National Science Foundation Doctoral Fellowship
(i) Peer reviewed journals:
Chief, K., T.P.A. Ferré, and B. Nijssen. 2008b. Examination of correlation between air permeability and saturated hydraulic conductivity in unburned and burned desert soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 72:1-9.
Chief, K., T.P.A. Ferré, and A. C. Hinnell. 2008a. The effects of anisotropy on in situ air permeability measurements. Vadose Zone J. 7:1-7.
Chief, K., T.P.A. Ferré, and B. Nijssen. 2006. Field testing of a soil corer air permeameter (SCAP) in desert soils. Vadose Zone J. 5:1257-1263.
(ii) Manuscripts in preparation:
Chief, K., M.H. Young, and D. Shafer. 2011. Low-Intensity, fire-induced changes of soil structure, physical and hydraulic properties. Submitted.
Chief, K. and M.H. Young. Large weighing lysimeter for deep percolation studies in arid soils. In preparation.
Chen, L., M. Berli, and K. Chief. Examining Modeling Approaches for a Fire Affected Rainfall-Runoff Process. In preparation.
Meyer, W.J., Chen, L., M. Berli, and K. Chief. Post-wildfire debris flow modeling for a southern California watershed using FLO-2D. Geomorphology. Submitted.
(iii) Desert Reseach Institute Reports:
Chief, K., M.H. Young, E. Knight, B.F. Lyles, J. Healey, J. Koonce, E. Johnson, J. Mon, M. Berli M. Menon, and G. Dana. 2009. Scaling Environmental Processes in Heterogeneous Arid Soils: Construction of Large Weighing Lysimeter Facility, p. 363. Desert Research Institute. Las Vegas, NV.
Chen, L., J. Miller, T. Caldwell, G. Dalldorf, K. Chief, M.H. Young, and L. Xiang. 2010. Hydraulic Characteristics of Soil in Rainbow Wash Watershed in Maricopa County, Arizona, p. 95. Desert Reseach Institute, Las Vegas, NV.
Shafer, D.S., J.J. Miller, K. Chief, W.J. Meyer, S. Jenkins, J. Tappen, M.H. Young, T.G. Caldwell, and C. Papelis. 2009. Potential Surface Water Transport of Depleted Uranium (DU) and DU Oxides in the Creech Watershed, p. 77. Desert Reseach Institute, Las Vegas, NV.
(iv) Peer-reviewed conference :
Chief, K., M.H. Young, and D. Shafer. 2010. Low-Intensity, Fire-Induced Changes of Soil Structure, Physical and Hydraulic Properties. American Society of Agronomy–Crop Science Society of America– Soil Science Society of America International Annual Meeting. Long Beach, CA.
Chief, K., T. Caldwell, and M.H. Young. 2009. Spatial variability of air and water permeability for two watersheds in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. American Society of Agronomy–Crop Science Society of America– Soil Science Society of America International Annual Meeting. Pittsburg, PA.
Chief, K. and M.H. Young. 2008. Spatial Variability of Soil Air Permeability and Hydraulic Properties in Desert Soils. American Society of Agronomy–Crop Science Society of America– Soil Science Society of America International Annual Meeting. Houston, TX.
Chief, K., M.H. Young, J. Healey, E. Johnson, E. Knight, J. Koonce, Z. Yu, and S.W. Tyler. 2008. Scaling Environmental Processes in Heterogeneous Arid Soils (SEPHAS) Weighing Lysimeter Facility: Construction, Installation, and Preliminary Infiltration Experiment Data. Am. Geophysical Union National Meetings, San Francisco, CA.
Chief, K. and M.H. Young. 2008. Spatial variability of soil air permeability and hydraulic properties. 2008. Symposium: Understanding Near-Surface Environmental Processes, Desert Research Institute and Nevada Water Resources Association. Las Vegas, NV.
Chief, K., P.A. Ferré, and B. Nijssen. 2005. Design and Testing of a Soil-Corer Air Permeameter. Eos Trans. AGU, 86 (52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract H31C-1322.
Chief, K., B. Nijssen, P.A. Ferré, and B. Ekwurzel. 2003. Development of an air permeameter for monitoring changes in hydraulic conductivity of surface soils due to fire: measurements made following the 2003 Aspen Fire in Sabino Canyon, Arizona. Eos Trans. AGU, 84 (46), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract H42G-1157.
(v) Regional conference proceeding abstracts:
Chief, K., M.H. Young, J. Healey, B. Lyles, J. Koonce, E. Johnson, E. Knight, Z. Yu, S.W. Tyler, and P. Verburg. 2009. Western Regional Research Project W-1188 Annual Meeting. Oracle, AZ.
Chief, K., and T.P.A. Ferré, and B. Nijssen. 2008. Predicting saturated hydraulic conductivity from air permeability in desert soils. Western Regional Research Project W-1188 Annual Meeting. Las Vegas, NV.
(vi) Co-Author on peer-reviewed conference proceedings abstracts:
Young, M., Z. Yu, S. Tyler, K. Chief, E. Knight, J. Healey, J. Zhu, M. Menon, and J. Mon. 2008. Examining Arid Soil Processes in Nevada USA Using Weighing Lysimeters. European Geosciences Union 2008 General Assembly, Vienna, Austria.
Koonce, J., M.H. Young, Z. Yu, K. Chief, J. Healey, and S.W. Tyler. 2008. Relating Temperature Propagation and Wetting Front in Arid Soils Using Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) Coupled With Multiple Technologies. Am. Geophysical Union National Meetings, San Francisco, CA.
Young, M. H., J. Healey, J. Zhu, K. Chief, Z. Yu, E. Knight, J. Mon, S. Tyler, and M. Menon. 2008. Examining Arid Soil Processes Using Weighing Lysimeter in Nevada, U.S.A. 2008 Symposium: Understanding Near-Surface Environmental Processes, Las Vegas, NV.