Principal Investigator: Dr. Yadu Pokhrel (Associate Professor)

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 worked as 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 his work in a number of leading scientific journals in the field including Nature Geoscience. He serves as a reviewer for more than 20 journals in the field and has reviewed over 60 papers in the past several years. He has also served in review panels or has reviewed proposals for various funding agencies including NSF and NASA. 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). Dr. Pokhrel is the recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Faculty (CAREER) Award (see MSU News). He also received the 2018-2019 Withrow Distinguished Scholar Award from the College of Engineering at MSU (see MSU News). He currently serves as an Associate Editor for Journal of Hydrology and Scientific Reports (Nature). He is also a guest editor for special issues in journals Water, Atmosphere, and Remote Sensing.

Google Scholar Profile

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-1367-216X

Research Staff

Sanghoon Shin (Postdoctoral Research Associate, 2019~); Current ProjectImpacts of large hydropower dams and climate change on river-floodplain hydrodynamics.

Shin Sanghoon

I have developed hyper-resolution global hydrological models, which can provide locally relevant but globally available information. My primary focus is on how dam construction and its operation have changed and will change water resources and hydrology, specifically surface water storage and extent dynamics. The primary domain of interest is the Mekong river basin, which is shared by six Southeast Asian countries, where the unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction has been occurring. My current work is focused on investigating (1) the historical role of dams on the past Mekong river hydrology and (2) the potential impact of increasing number and capacities of hydropower dams on the future Mekong river hydrology under changing climate.


Farshid Felfelani (Postdoctoral Research Associate, 2019~); Current Project: Land surface modeling considering human water management.

My research is mainly devoted to study the Earth’s hydrology and climate in relation to natural and human-induced changes, using hydrological models and remote sensing data over multitude of spatial and temporal scales. Specifically, I seek to advance the representation of irrigation and groundwater system—two major hydrologic processes with complex reciprocal interplay—in large-scale hydrological models for applications in highly stressed agro-ecosystems. My current and recent works include: (1) Representing Nitrogen and Phosphorus Transport in the Community Land Model; (2) Representing Inter-cell Lateral Groundwater Flow and Aquifer Pumping in the Community Land Model; (3) Global Terrestrial Water Storage and Drought Severity under Climate Change; (4) Utilizing SMAP Soil Moisture Data to Constrain Irrigation in the Community Land Model; (5) Natural and Human-induced Terrestrial Water Storage Change: A Global Analysis using Hydrological Models and GRACE.

Current Graduate Students

Suyog Chaudhari (PhD Student, 2017~); Current 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.


Tamanna Kabir (PhD Student, 2019~); Current Project: 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 hazard in the coastal region of Bangladesh. I started my graduate study as a PhD student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MSU in Spring 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.

Omid Bagheri (PhD Student, 2019~); Current ProjectDams, 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 of 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 in 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 the 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.

Ida Gheibi (MS Student, 2019~); Current ProjectDams, irrigation, and groundwater in high-resolution, regional model Leaf-Hydro-Flood.

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Current Undergraduate Students

Thitiwat Niramol (Undergraduate Student, 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.


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

Pursuing a B.S. in Civil Engineering, I have focused my degree towards that of hydrology and water systems. My passion for this field has lead to my position as an undergraduate research assistant, aiding the study of large dams in the Mekong river basin and how they affect river hydrology/hydraulics. My past experiences in the Southeast Asian region have only progressed my interest in this research and given me guidance on the what I would like to study for my M.Sc.


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

I am a current undergraduate student pursuing two bachelor degrees in both Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering. Through coursework, extracurricular activities, and internships I have gathered knowledge on sustainable design, emission monitoring systems, and hydraulic water systems. My main interest is in research and development, although I have aspirations of creating an engineering firm that will dampen the adverse ecological effects of human activity. I am currently working as an undergraduate research assistant on a project in the Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia to examine how large dams are affecting river hydrology and hydraulics.


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

I am a current undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor degree in Civil Engineering. Through the knowledge I have gathered  at MSU I developed an affinity for hydraulic water systems. My main interest is in research and to pursue a PhD; nevertheless, I do have future aspirations of going to water impoverished countries and to help improve their water systems through my own firm.

I am currently working as an undergraduate research assistant on a project in the Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia to examine how the proposed construction of large dams are affecting various aspects of the river.


Visiting Scholars/Researchers

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

I am currently pursuing bachelor degree in Advanced Aquaculture Program (in collaboration between Can Tho University, Vietnam and Auburn University, AL, USA). Besides aquaculture, during the coursework and student exchange programs, I have gained knowledge of fish and crustacean genetics, physiology, nutrition, pathology, water science, and fisheries resource management. My main focus is aquatic animal health with the aims to reduce the use and mitigate the side effects of antibiotics, and develop diagnostic protocols for aquatic animal. Currently, I am working under Dr. Yadu Pokhrel’s supervision at Michigan State Unversity as a research assistant on the project of Hydrology, Dams, and Fishery in the Lower Mekong River Basin, examining the relationship between hydrology, sediment transport, and fisheries in the Lower Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia for sustainable development of the whole region.

Past Group Members

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

I moved to US in Aug 2015 to start my PhD program. My doctoral plan is mainly devoted to irrigation water use and crop-groundwater interactions in the stressed agro-ecosystems around the world using the Community Land Model (CLM). I have also worked on isolation of human-induced terrestrial water storage variations using GRACE satellite data and HiGW-MAT simulations over highly managed river basins. I received my MSc in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in Iran where I focused on water systems and facilities operation with an emphasis on decision making. My research background also includes optimal operation scheduling of water pumping stations using artificial intelligence tools and application of artificial neural networks in urban water demand forecasting.

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

Shin Sanghoon

Sanghoon completed his PhD in Summer 2019. The primary focus of his PhD was on (1) developing a new modeling framework that simulates the spatio-temporal dynamics of river-reservoir-floodplain storages at high-resolution at the continental to global scales, and (2) investigating the impact of manmade reservoirs on large-scale hydrology and water resources. The new reservoir operation and river-flood routing scheme is firstly implemented on Leaf-Hydro-Flood model for the contiguous US, and the scheme is also incorporated into CaMa-flood model for the Mekong river basin. Prior to joining us, Sanghoon received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Korea University, where he worked on developing surface flow path searching algorithm, investigating sediment transport through laboratory experiment, and applying metaheuristic optimization algorithms.

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

Mateo his received hi MS in Spring 2019. He worked on NSF and NASA funded projects on hydrology, dam, and fishery in the Mekong River basin. The focus of his MS this was on understanding the impacts of hydropower dams in the Mekong basin on fish catch and implications on regional food security. He made a combined use of fishery data from FAO and results from CaMa-Flood hydrodynamics model to examine the impact of altered flood dynamics (by dams) on fish catch. Prior to joining us, Mateo received his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from Syracuse University. During his undergraduate studies, he worked on examining a 1.5-acre green roof. The goal of the project was to estimate deposition fluxes of anions and trace metals onto rooftops by using surface analysis techniques of samples taken from runoff and incident precipitation.

Currently: Environmental Engineer at Wolverine Engineers & Surveyors Inc.

Suyog Chaudhari (PhD Student, 2015-2017); Project: Human and climate induced changes in Lake Urmia in Iran; Journal Article based on MS ThesisClimate and anthropogenic contributions to the desiccation of the second largest saline lake in the twentieth century (Journal of Hydrology).

Following my undergraduate studies in Civil Engineering in India, Suyog spent 3 years working as a Water and Wastewater System Designer before pursuing his MS in Water Resources Engineering, here at Michigan State University. Suyog completed his MS in Spring 2017. He started his research career with interests in large scale hydrological modeling, land use land cover change, anthropogenic impact, surface water-groundwater interactions, watershed modeling and remote sensing. His masters research focused on how climate change and anthropogenic exploitation of land and water resources contributed to the desiccation of Lake Urmia, Iran. Suyog combined the results from a global land surface model, HiGW-MAT and remotely sensed Landsat data to quantify the human impact contributing to the alteration of streamflow into the Lake Urmia.

Currently: a PhD student at MSU.

  • Nanhang Jiang (2016-2018, MS Student); Project: Trans-boundary water management issues in the Koshi river basin, Nepal.
  • Yaoliang Chen (2016-2017, Visiting PhD Student from Zhejiang University, China): WaterCUBE Project

External Collaborators

  • Junguo Liu (SusTECH, China)
  • Yoshi Wada (IIASA, Austria)
  • Meha Jain (M. Michigan)
  • David Lawrence (NCAR)
  • Kaiyu Guan (UIUC)
  • Gonzalo Miguez-Macho (University of Santiago, de Compostela, Spain)
  • Naota Hanasaki, Yusuke Satoh, Tokuta Yokohata (NIES, Japan)
  • Tomohito Yamada (Hokkaido University, Japan)
  • Laurent Longuevergne (CNRS – Géosciences Rennes)
  • And many other colleagues!