M.S. and Ph.D. programs are available in the Environment and Natural Resources area within the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. Students engage in a challenging program of study and in original and innovative research in four main areas: hydrology and hydrologic modeling, subsurface flow and transport, and surface water quality and erosion.

The department also assists students who want to pursue an interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree in Environmental Science.

Because the Environment and Natural Resources program accommodates students from diverse backgrounds, specific courses and sequence of course work may be difficult to project. Generally, it can be stated that all students are required to develop significant expertise in one field, such as subsurface water quality or stream ecology, and to complement that expertise with studies in several other areas. This approach produces professionals that have both depth and breadth in Environment and Natural Resources.

DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

All plans of study will be tailored to the individual student based on their interests and the guidance of the graduate committee. M.S. students must complete 24 credit hours of course work and 6 credit hours of research including a thesis. A minimum of 36 credit hours of course work and 24 credits of research beyond the M.S. degree will be required for each Ph.D. student.

The advisory committee must individually approve a student’s plan of study and research. This plan of study will typically include six core courses: BAE 5513, 6313, 6323, 6333, 6343 and 6520. These high-quality, advanced-level courses, taught by Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering faculty and supported by well-equipped laboratories, provide students with a strong background for addressing water problems. Additional courses from this department, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology; the Environmental Science Program; and other colleges may be used to complete the plan of study.

Students initially take three to four classes per semester, completing major area and mathematics classes first. M.S. students generally take one and a half to two years to complete their programs. For Ph.D. students, who are expected to complete their programs in no more than three years, course work is usually completed by the end of the second year. No less than six months before the degree is granted, Ph.D. students take a qualifying examination. This comprehensive examination is both written and oral, covering the entire area of the student’s graduate study. In addition, M.S. and Ph.D. dissertations must be successfully defended before the advisory committee at the completion of the research program.

Programs are available which have a non-thesis option. These programs must have additional hours of course work and a creative component including a written report. The creative component must be defended before the advisory committee at the completion of the research program.

AREAS OF RESEARCH

Hydrology and Hydrologic Modeling

According to Federal water agencies such as USGS and SCS, include important areas of hydrology research, stormwater modeling, risk analysis and the incorporation of uncertainty into engineering designs. Potential research topics for graduate students include:

Applying and testing Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and other information technologies in hydrologic models.

  • Applying risk analysis to water resource design.
  • Improving parameter estimation for hydrologic models.
  • Characterizing model and parameter uncertainties.
  • Applying microcomputer techniques to water resources studies.
  • Analyzing water resources using stochastic and statistical variables.

Subsurface Flow and Transport

Ground water is an important source of drinking water and irrigation supplies. While questions concerning ground water supplies are generally well answered, concern is growing about protecting ground water from existing and possible future sources of contamination, particularly in the subsurface zone immediately above water supply. Potential research topics for graduate students include:

  • Testing and modifying ground water models.
  • Analyzing the transport processes of ground water contaminants.
  • Interfacing ground water and soil-water models.
  • Assessing field variability and macropore effects in solute transport.
  • Assessing the variability and impact of soil properties within mapping units.
  • Analyzing the transport and fate of agricultural chemicals.
  • Developing new ground water instrumentation.

Surface Water Quality and Erosion

An estimated 6 billion tons of soil, more than 73 million in Oklahoma alone, are eroded each year in the United States. Closely associated with erosion is the entrainment and transport of land-applied chemicals, either by direct adsorption to sediment particles or by their transport in water itself. The combined importance of maintaining soil productivity and controlling nonpoint will continue to require professional expertise. Potential research topics for graduate students include:

  • Analyzing detachment forces on bed materials.
  • Analyzing the drainage network of rills.
  • Characterizing rill movement due to headcutting.
  • Modeling spatial uncertainties in surface flow parameters.
  • Developing flow parameters for surface water quality.
  • Incorporating GIS into water quality models.
  • Designing decision support systems for manager of agricultural chemicals.
  • Determining the impact of irrigation on water quality.
  • Determining the impact of irrigation on the transport and fate of agrichemicals.

EXAMPLE PLAN OF STUDY

(Entering with M.S. in Biosystems Engineering, interests in hydrologic modeling)

COURSES

  • MATH 3013 Linear Algebra
  • AGRON 4293 Plant Response to Env. Stress
  • STAT 4113 Intro. to Probability Theory
  • STAT 5133 Stochastic Processes
  • STAT 5053 Time Series
  • MATH 4013 Engineering. Math of Several Variables
  • MAE 5093 Numerical Engineering Analysis
  • CIVEN 6010 Seminar in Groundwater Pollution
  • CIVEN 6713 Seepage Groundwater Flow
  • CIVEN 5913 Groundwater Hydrology
  • BAE 6333 Fluvial Hydraulics
  • BAE 6313 Stochastic Hydrology
  • BAE 5501 Seminar
  • BAE 6000 Research Thesis

CORE COURSES

BAE 6313: Stochastic Methods in Hydrology. Stochastic and statistical analyses of surface and ground water systems. Topics include frequency analysis, simulation of random events, stochastic models and risk analysis. Prerequisites: BAE 4313 or CIVEN 5843 and STAT 4053.

BAE 6333: Fluvial Hydraulics. Principles of detachment, entrainment and transport of sediment in surface flows. Topics include drainage network development, turbulence, suspended transport, bed processes and design of stable channels. Prerequisites: ENGSC 3233 or equivalent.

BAE 6343: Ground Water Contaminant Transport. Principles of solute transport in porous media including multiphase flows. Topics include analytical solutions, experimental measurement techniques, saturated and unsaturated flow principles. Prerequisites: AGRON 5583 or CIVEN 5913.

BAE 6520: Watershed Modeling and Water Quality. Emphasis on physical processes governing nutrient transport in surface runoff from agricultural watersheds. Application of state-of-the-art watershed scale hydrologic/water quality models. Other topics include parameter estimation, model validation and development of data bases used in watershed models. Prerequisites: CHEM 1515, BAE 4313 or equivalent.

FACULTY

Paul Weckler Graduate Coordinator
Bio-mechanical systems and food processing

Michael Buser, Associate Professor
Air quality

J. D. Carlson, Associate Researcher
Boundary-layer meteorology, agricultural and fire meteorology, and atmospheric dispersion

Garey Fox, Associate Professor
Environmental and natural resources

Doug Hamilton, Associate Professor
Waste management

Sherry Hunt, Adjunct Assistant Professor and Research Hydraulic Engineer
Hydraulic structures, earthen embankment breach widening, and sediment controls

Dan Storm, Professor
Water quality

Jason Vogel, Assistant Professor
Integrated stormwater management

FACILITIES

Student and faculty research in the BAE department is supported by well-equipped facilities on campus and at extension sites. The main laboratory is a 28,000 sq. ft. facility, equipped with electronic, electric and machine shops. A 5,000 sq. ft. laboratory, a 900 sq. ft. ground water wet laboratory, three computer laboratories, and a wide range of instrumentation are available for graduate research. At extension sites in Clayton, Goodwell, and Battiest, Oklahoma, a center-pivot irrigation system and instrumented watersheds are also available.