Principal Investigator: Dr. Yadu Pokhrel (Associate Professor; Appointment: 75% in CEE & 25% in AgBioResearch)

Dr. Pokhrel received his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Tribhuvan University, Nepal and M.Eng and PhD, also in Civil Engineering, from the University of Tokyo, Japan. Upon receiving his PhD, he became a postdoctoral research fellow at Hokkaido University, Japan. He then worked at Rutgers University first as a research associate and then as a research Assistant Professor before joining Michigan State University in 2014. Dr. Pokhrel has published 100+ peer-reviewed articles (as of Jan. 2024), including 20+ papers in Nature/Science/PNAS journals (see Google Scholar for a full list and citations; link listed below). Dr. Pokhrel’s research is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA. He is the recipient of the NSF Early Career Faculty (CAREER) Award (see MSU News) and US Fulbright Award (to Taiwan; National Taiwan University). He also received numerous awards from MSU, including the 2020 University Teacher-Scholar Award, “2024 John K. Hudzik Emerging Leader in Advancing International Studies and Programs Award“, “2024 Withrow Global Leadership Award“, and “2018-2019 Withrow Distinguished Scholar Award – Junior. He was also a 2021 MSU Lilly Teaching Fellow. He currently serves as an Editor for Earth Interactions, Associate Editor for Water Resource Research and Journal of Hydrology, and Special Issue Editor for HESS. He currently serves as one of the university representatives from MSU for the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science (CUAHSI). He participates in various international community-driven modeling efforts including the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISIMIP). His research projects span many global regions including the US, Africa, South/Southeast Asia, and the Amazon River basin in South America. He currently leads multiple, large global initiatives. 

Google Scholar Profile

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-1367-216X

Current Research Staff / Postdoctoral Scholars

Amar Deep Tiwari (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Spring 2022~); Project (BLUEGEM, NSF/Belmont Forum): Climate-hydrology modeling with irrigation and groundwater.

I completed my Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, India. In my Ph.D. thesis, I worked on the development of a hydrologic outlook for India, which included the monitoring and forecast of reservoir storage, floods, and droughts. Before joining MSU, I worked on a UNICEF project based on the development of a hydroclimatic framework and forecasting system for India. My current research is focused on the study of the influence of groundwater, irrigation, and climate change on water resources using hydrological models and investigating the hydrologic changes in the Mekong River Basin (under the Belmont Forum Project, funded by the NSF). Email:

Current Graduate Students

Tanjila Akhter (PhD Student, 2021~); Project (BLUEGEM; NSF/Belmont Forum): Irrigation and Irrigation in Earth System Models.

I obtained my B.Sc. in Water Resources Engineering and M. Sc. in Water Resources Development from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, (BUET), Dhaka, Bangladesh. My M.Sc. thesis focused on the hydrogeologic complexity and drinking water stress in the coastal region of Bangladesh. Before coming to MSU I had been working as a faculty member at the Institute of Water and Flood Management, BUET, where I was involved in research projects including improving water security for the poor in Asia and Africa and developing a flash flood early warning system for the Haor region of Bangladesh. My research interest comprises hydrology, groundwater, and sustainable water resources management. For my Ph.D. research, my goal is to use advanced numerical modeling to assess past and future trends in groundwater-surface moisture interaction and irrigation, and to see their impact on global and regional climate, biosphere, and water resources system.

Ahmed Elkouk (Ph.D. Student; 2021~); Project (NSF ACCESS): Climate extremes in African transitional environments.

My work focuses on the study of climate extremes of drought and heatwave spatio-temporal events across transitional environments in Africa (e.g., the Sahel) in the context of anthropogenic global warming. Using climatic and hydrological simulations, I seek to provide information about the effects of rising global temperature on these events’ mechanisms and future evolution. Understanding these effects allows us to evaluate the future impacts of such phenomena on vulnerable societies to support potential mitigation strategies that aim to minimize such impacts.

Huy Dang (PhD Student, 2019~); Project (NSF CAREER, LUCE Foundation, NASA IDS): Hydrology, Dams, and Sustainable Development in the Lower Mekong Basin.

After spending a few years working for both government and non-governmental organization on the Mekong River Basin, I have come to realized that impact from the strong desires to have a fast-growing economy of each Southeast Asia nations is so significant that some might be willing to overlook potential adverse effect on their own natural environment in exchange for development. These unprecedented changes coupled with climate change have led to alarming transboundary impacts and severe tension among neighboring countries on water availability and usage. As a PhD aspirant in hydrology, my main goal in research is to apply mathematical models, focusing on investigate and predict the future trend of changes in the hydrological regime both surface and ground under human activities with climate change projections to support the making of national/region sustainable development plans and appropriate water policies in general.

Saugat Aryal (PhD Student, Fall 2023 – ); Project: Climate change and water resources sustainability in Asian water towers

I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the Institute of Engineering (IoE), Pulchowk Campus, Nepal. During my final year, my thesis concentrated on characterizing historical and projected future hydro-climatic extremes in eleven rain-fed watersheds in western Nepal. This analysis was based on data from five CMIP6-based climate models, driven by the SSP245 and SSP585 scenarios. Prior to joining MSU, I served as a research assistant at the Water Resources Department, Pulchowk Campus. In this role, I contributed to various projects, including watershed characterizations for hydropower initiatives, a study on the evolution and future potential of hydropower in Nepal, and the development of a river coding system for Nepal using the Pfafstetter river coding system. My research interests encompass extensive analysis of hydrological data, hydrological modeling, and climate change studies. For my PhD research, I aspire to focus on enhancing climate resilience across the entire Himalayan region of Asia. Additionally, I am eager to establish connections with other delta systems worldwide.

Aman Shrestha (PhD Student, Spring 2024- ); Project (NSF CAS-CLIMATE): Mississippi Water-Food-Nutrient Nexus

I completed my undergraduate in Civil Engineering from Pulchowk Campus, Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University, Nepal. During my undergraduate, I worked as a research assistant concentrating in environmental engineering. My research revolved around analyzing greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater, assessing the state of water, sanitation, and hygiene of Nepal, and delving into the study of reclaimed water in South Asia. As my final year project, I analyzed the trends in future hydroclimatic extremes for rainfed and spring-fed watersheds in eastern Nepal utilizing an ensemble of CMIP6 GCMs. I also explored the impact of climate change on agricultural yield by leveraging these ensemble outputs. Before joining MSU, I worked on hydrologic and hydraulic modeling of stormwater infrastructure at the Nepal Centre of Engineering and Research. As a Ph.D. student, my research focus is to assess the feasibility of irrigation expansion, quantify water scarcity, examine potential agricultural adaptation measures, and evaluate green, blue, and gray water footprints in the Mississippi River Basin under various climate change and adaptation scenarios.

Phyllis Feldpausch (MS Student, Fall 2022~); Project (NSF CAREER): Water Infrastructure and Hydrologic Extremes. 

I’m an undergraduate student at Michigan State University studying Environmental Engineering and Sustainability, focusing on Hydrology and Water Resources. I am currently working on a project that will examine the effects of climate change and extreme weather events on dam infrastructure in the Great Lakes Watershed. I am interested in the change in water quantity and quality over time, and understanding the impact this will have in the region. In my research, I use hydrological observations and modeling results to examine how climate change and dams are affecting water quantity and quality.

Ziyad Madkhali (MS Student, Fall 2022~)

I obtained my undergraduate Civil Engineering Technology degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2017. I worked as a project engineer on various projects in Saudi Arabia. Currently, I’m completing an undergraduate degree in Environmental Geoscience and a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering here at Michigan State University. My research interests lie in the effects of waterworks, man-made structures, and anthropogenic emissions on water bodies and how to mitigate these impacts.


Visiting researchers/Interns

Yuwen Fan (Visiting PhD Student, Spring 2024-)

I am a visiting student from the Climate Modelling Laboratory ( of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. I am pursuing my doctoral degree in Atmospheric Environmental Science. My research mainly focuses on land surface modeling, with a specific emphasis on comprehending the intricate climatic and hydrological processes happening in irrigated croplands over the North China Plain regionBy effectively incorporating these processes into climate models, we can enhance our ability to assess the anthropogenic influence on regional climate.

Past Group Members (Students, Postdocs, and Visiting Scholars)

Youjiang Shen (Visiting PhD Student, Spring 2024-); Project (Asian Studies Center): Reservoir Modeling

My major research interests are in the field of surface water monitoring and modeling on a global scale. I am a JSPS-funded Ph.D. student (expected 2022.10-2025.09) at the University of Tokyo, the Global Hydrodynamic Lab (Please visit Yamazaki’s website: Currently, I have been working on data assimilation into hydrodynamic modeling using satellite datasets and developing a CaMa-Flood hydrodynamic model for better representation of global freshwater as well.

Jac Stelly (Undergraduate Student, Fall 2021~); Project: Climate Change, Environment, Hydrology. 

As I earn my degree in Environmental Engineering, I have studied the core STEM curriculum as well as advanced mathematics and the intricate relationship between mankind and the environment. My goal is to conduct research on the forefront of remediating the increasingly real affects of climate change by way of renewable energy, ecological modeling, and interdisciplinary impact analysis. Working with Dr. Pokhrel and his team, I am an undergraduate assistant participating in the study of how hydroelectric dam construction and a changing climate are affecting the hydrology and riparian population of the Mekong River basin.

Jamiat Nanteza, Senior Research Associate (Fall 2022-). Climate change, drought, water-food security, Africa

Dr. Jamiat Nanteza is a Lecturer of Meteorology, Hydrology, and Climate Sciences in the Department of Geography, Geo-Informatics, and Climatic Sciences at Makerere University. Jamiat obtained her PhD in Earth System Science in 2016, from the University of California, Irvine, USA, and holds an MSc. Applied Meteorology from the University of Reading, UK and a Bachelor of Science degree from Makerere University, Uganda. Jamiat’s PhD was sponsored by Fulbright, the NASA graduate fellowship, and the Faculty for the future women fellowship by Schlumberger. Jamiat is also a recipient of the IPCC scholarship. Upon completion of her PhD studies, Jamiat returned to Uganda to embark on her academic and research career. Her research has mainly focused on understanding the impacts of changing climates and anthropogenic activities on water resources over East Africa, through remote sensing and hydrologic modeling. Her research has been funded by a number of grants including the Partnership for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) by USAID and the Livelihood Management, Reforms and Processes of Structural Change Postdoctoral Fellowship by Volkswagen. She is also a recipient of the government of Uganda Research and Innovations (RIF) grant. Dr. Nanteza has reviewed manuscripts for the Geological Society of America, African Journal of Agricultural Research (AJAR), CODESRIA, and Springer and the Journal of Hydrometeorology and has taken part as an OSPA judge for the AGU meetings.

Dr. Nanteza’s current research focuses on understanding the impacts of climate change on water-food security by accounting for irrigation expansion and social economic dimensions in Africa. She is sponsored by the Association of African Partnership (AAP) under the African Futures Research Leadership Program.

Tamanna Kabir (PhD Student, 2019-2024); Project (CAREER): Sustainable Hydropower Development in the Mekong River Basin.

I received my bachelor in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Shahjalal University of Science and Technology and a Masters in Water Resources Development from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. During my master’s study, I worked on the assessment of biophysical factors of storm surge hazards in the coastal region of Bangladesh. I started my graduate study as a Ph.D. student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MSU in the Spring of 2019. My research interest includes the application of remote sensing data and computer modeling to understand the potential impacts of human land water management in the hydrological system. My doctoral plan is to investigate how water infrastructure development particularly flow regulations by dam construction, are altering the hydrological system in the Mekong River basin. The Community Land Model (CLM) is being used in this regard.

Currently at: Jacobs Solutions, Inc.

Omid Bagheri (PhD Student, 2019-2023); Project (INFEWS Amazon): Dams, irrigation, and groundwater in high-resolution, regional model Leaf-Hydro-Flood.

During my undergraduate studies at Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, I learned how to design and implement a wide variety of infrastructures in service to society. During this process, I got introduced to environmental engineering and sustainable design and management and I decided to do my MS degree in Water Engineering at Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran. The main goal of my MS thesis was to develop a bioverified spawning habitat suitability criteria for Salmo trutta in Lar River. Further, I continued research on two other projects directly relevant to my research interests. At the Water Engineering Research Institute (TMU), I gained further field research experience and a deeper understanding of ecohydrological processes by working on environmental flow requirements for regulated rivers in Urmia Lake Basin. At Fateh Asman Sharif Corporation, I worked on the application of UAVs in near-census river science to improve close-range photogrammetry. For my PhD I am working on multi-scale hydrological modeling mainly focusing on human intervention with the environment such as land-use and land-cover change, agricultural activities, and dam building. My main PhD research objective is to quantify the human impacts that will be incurred on the terrestrial hydrological cycle and fisheries due to the numerous mega dam projects planned to be built in the Amazon basin.

Currently at: University of California, Irvine

Reed Fitzpatrick (Undergraduate Student, Summer 2023); Project Representing Spatial & Temporal Variability of Reservoirs in the Colorado River Basin

I am an undergraduate student at California State University, San Bernardino pursuing a major in physics with a minor in astronomy. Here at Michigan State University, I am currently working on a project that revolves around advancing the understanding of large reservoirs in the Colorado River Basin by developing techniques to represent their spatial and temporal variability in terms of storage capacity. By using remote sensing observations and working on a sophisticated model that leverages historical reservoir features as training data to predict the future storage capacity. To evaluate the accuracy of these representations, I plan to conduct statistical analysis. By comparing the results obtained from the model and remote sensing observations with direct measurements of storage capacity, I will identify and analyze any uncertainties that may arise from each methodology employed.

Katherine Miller (Undergraduate Student, Summer 2022); Project (ACCESS): Water sustainability in the American Southwest. 

I am an undergraduate student at Michigan State University studying Civil Engineering with a focus on Hydrology and Water Resources. I am currently working on a project that will examine the impacts of climate change on water resources in the American Southwest. I am interested in sustainability and understanding the environmental impact we have on our ecosystems. In my research, I will be using modeling results to examine how the future water demands in the southwestern US can be met under projected climate and current water management practices while maintaining environmental flow.
Currently at: Columbia University (Graduate Student) 

Thitiwat Niramol (Undergraduate Student, Summer 2020); Current ProjectHydrology of the Chao-Phraya basin in Thailand

My name is Thitiwat Niramol. I’m currently studying in Computational Mathematics major at Michigan State University. I’m interested in doing a high-resolution simulation on dam and river in  Choa Phraya river basin to investigate a potential cause of flooding and study a tentative dam operation to prevent a future flooding. I intended to observe 2 major dams, the Bhumibol dam and the Queen Sirikit Dam, which are located in the upper provinces of Thailand and may have the most impact on floods in the lower area.

Suyog Chaudhari (PhD Student, 2017-2021); ProjectImpacts of Dam construction in the hydrology of the Amazon basin.

Upon completing his MS, Suyog continued for the PhD program. His primary research focus for the doctorate studies is investigating the hydrological change and variability in the Amazon River basin on a multi-decadal scale using continental scale models such as LEAF-Hydro-Flood and Cama-Flood. Through multi-disciplinary collaborations from an NSF funded project, he is also striving to find a sustainable approach for hydropower development in the Amazon basin by utilizing the in-stream turbine technology and quantifying its trade-off with the conventional hydropower dams. His other PhD research objectives include drought characterization and their temporal and spatial evolution, land use land cover change, and hydrological, ecological and social impacts of dams.

Currently at: Jacobs Solutions Inc.

Suyog Chaudhari (PhD Student, 2017-2021); Project: Impacts of Dam construction in the hydrology of the Amazon basin.

  • Completion: Suyog finished PhD in December 2021.
  • Main papers published:
    • Chaudhari, S**, E. Brown, R. Quispe-Abad, E. Moran, N. Mueller, and Y. Pokhrel (2021), In-stream turbines for rethinking hydropower development in the Amazon basin, Nature Sustainability, 4, 680-687 (Online; Read-only Full Article).
    • Chaudhari, S.**, Y. Pokhrel, E. Moran, and G. Miguez-Macho (2019), Multi-decadal Hydrologic Change and Variability in the Amazon River Basin: Understanding Terrestrial Water Storage Variations and Drought Characteristics, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 23, 2841-2862 (Open Access;  Download PDF).
    • Chaudhari**, S, F. Felfelani**, S. Shin**, and Y. Pokhrel (2018), Climate and Anthropogenic Contributions to the Desiccation of the Second Largest Saline Lake in the Twentieth Century, Journal of Hydrology, 560, 342–353 (DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.03.034) (DOWNLOAD).
  • Current Position: Research Scientist at Jacobs.

Farshid Felfelani (PhD Student, 2015-2019; Postdoctoral Associate, 2029-2021); Project: Implementation of human water management in the Community Land Model (CLM).

  • Completion: Farshid finished PhD in December 2019.
  • Main papers published:
    • Felfelani, Farshid**, David Lawrence, and Yadu Pokhrel (2020), Representing Inter-cell Lateral Groundwater Flow and Aquifer Pumping in the Community Land Model, Water Resources Research .
    • Felfelani**, F., Y. Pokhrel, K. Guan, and D. Lawrence (2018), Utilizing SMAP Soil Moisture Data to Constrain Irrigation in the Community Land Model, Geophysical Research Letters , 45, 12, 892–12,902 (DOI: PDF).
  • Current Position: Research Scientist at NCAR.

Sanghoon Shin (PhD Student, 2015-2019); ProjectDams, irrigation, and groundwater in high-resolution, regional model Leaf-Hydro-Flood.

  • Completion: August 2019.
  • Main Papers Published:
    • Shin, S, Y. Pokhrel, and G. Miguez-Macho (2019), High Resolution Modeling of Reservoir Release and Storage Dynamics over the Continental US, Water Resources Research, 55, 787-810 (Abstract: 10.1029/2018WR023025; Download PDF).
    • Shin, Sanghoon**, Yadu Pokhrel, Dai Yamazaki, Xiaodong Huang, Nathan Torbick, Jiaguo Qi, Sura Pattanakiat, Thanh Ngo-Duc, and Nguyen Duc Tuan (2020), High Resolution Modeling of River-floodplain-reservoir Inundation Dynamics in the Mekong River Basin, Water Resources Research, 56, e2019WR026449 (Abstract; PDF).
  • Current Position: Postdoc at University of Maryland.

Mateo Burbano (MS Student, 2017-2019); Project: Impacts of dams and climate change on the hydrology and fisheries in the Mekong region

Suyog Chaudhari (MS Student, 2015-2017); Project: Human and climate induced changes in Lake Urmia in Iran;

Yaoliang Chen (Visiting PhD scholar from Zhejiang University, Chin, 2016-2017); Project: WaterCUBE. 

Khánh Nguyễn (2019 Summer, Can Tho University, Vietnam); Project: Hydrology, Dams, and Fishery in the Lower Mekong River Basin. 

    • Completion: Khanh completed his summer term in August 2019.
    • Papers Published:
      • Burbano, M, S. Shin, N. Khanh, and Y. Pokhrel (2020), Hydrologic Changes, Dam Construction, and the Shift in Dietary Protein in the Lower Mekong River Basin, Journal of Hydrology, 581 (124454); Download PDF).
    • Current Position: PhD student at Auburn University.

Austin DeVries (BS-MS Linked Student, 2020-2022); Project: N/A. 

Nanhang Jiang (MS Student, 2018-2018); Project: Trans-boundary water management issues in the Koshi river basin, Nepal.  

Ida Gheibi (MS Student, 2019); Project: Course Option. 

Jac Stelly (Undergraduate Student, 2021~); Project: Mekong Hydrology and Dams. 

Jon Mahut (Undergraduate Student, 2018~2019); Project: Dams and Mekong hydrology. 

Benjamin Cady (Undergraduate Student, 2019~2020); Project: Dams and Mekong hydrology. 

Faisal Shahin (Undergraduate Student, 2019-2020); ProjectDams and Mekong hydrology (NSF and MSU EnSURE Program).

Thitiwat Niramol (Undergraduate Student, 2020-2021); ProjectHydrology of the Chao-Phraya basin in Thailand

  • Currently a graduate student at Georgia Tech.