My name is Jack Greene; I am a fourth year student in the five year BS/MS program pursuing a Master’s of Science in Civil Engineering focusing on Hydrology, Water Resources and Environmental Fluid Mechanics. I grew up south of Denver and I will complete my Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Engineering with minors in Business Analytics and Leadership Studies in May 2016 from the University of Colorado Boulder. I chose CU Boulder because I was given a unique opportunity to stay to do a fifth year masters and work on a research project. My undergraduate work involved optimizing well locations and treatment chemical injection to effectively remediate theoretically constructed contaminated groundwater plumes in a computer model. My masters thesis will be applying this research to a contaminated uranium mining site in Southwestern Colorado. I am really looking forward to being more involved in research as a full time commitment. As an undergrad, I was a research assistant doing research part time, but as a graduate student, I am looking forward to diving deeper into my research.
I am a student member of the American Geophysical Union and The American Society of Civil Engineers. I am also an Engineering Fellow and a member of the Colorado Beta Chapter of Tau Beta Pi. I will continue to serve as the president of the CU Boulder Club Tennis Team and I am a member of the Colorado Alpha Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon. I am very passionate about the Grateful Dead – I really enjoy listening to old bootlegged tapes from their shows any chance I can get. I enjoy how beautiful Boulder is, I am always so astounded walking around how pretty the surrounding environment is.
- What is your research area? How did you get involved in that research?
My specific research area is in computer based groundwater modeling optimizing remediation system parameters for an in-situ Engineered Injection and Extraction remediation system. In this system, a treatment chemical is injected into the contaminant plume in the subsurface. Following that, four wells positioned around the plume pump clean water in and out to facilitate spreading of the treatment chemical into the contaminant plume to promote contaminant degradation. My research is in optimizing the well locations and size of the treatment plume to promote the most degradation through high performance computing. In my thesis, I will be evaluating different aquifer conditions and optimize the system to minimize uncertainty in remediation performance at a uranium mine site in Southwestern Colorado. I got involved in my research as an undergraduate by asking Professor Neupauer about her research and interests and then a few weeks later, in class, she offered me a position being a research assistant working with her Ph.D. student at the time, Amy Piscopo. After working with her for three semesters, she wanted me to do the uranium site project as my masters thesis and I could not be more grateful for the opportunities she’s provided me.
- Why did you decide to join the BS/MS program? How does the BS/MS program facilitate your study area and research work?
I applied for the BS/MS program based on the recommendation from Professor Rosario-Ortiz in my Water Chemistry class fall semester of my junior year. I remember him saying, “you might as well apply if you’re at all interested in getting a masters degree, because you can always get out if that’s not what you want to do.” Even though I had no plans of getting a masters degree, I still applied for the program and was accepted. After taking a few graduate classes in place of undergraduate ones, I became more interested in it, so it worked out. The BS/MS program is a great way to continue my research but apply it to a much more complicated and detailed project. The funding for the uranium mine project is funded by the National Science Foundation for one year which perfectly overlaps with my graduate year timeline.
- You have just won the 3rd place in EWRI Student Technical Paper Competition. What was your paper about and what part of your paper do you think excels above other
My paper was about my undergraduate research in optimizing well locations and treatment chemical plume radii for theoretical groundwater contaminant plumes and the results from the model simulations. Professor Neupauer was wonderful for pushing me to present at conferences and enter the EWRI student paper competition as an undergraduate. Upon arriving to CU, I never knew I would be able to give a fifteen minute oral presentation at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting as an undergraduate. Oral presentations are usually reserved for Professors, Ph.D. students and post-doctoral researchers, but I was fortunate enough to be selected to present as an undergraduate. Although, I did not believe that I would be able to perform at that level at my stage in school. Professor Neupauer believed in me and pushed me out of my comfort zone for AGU and for EWRI. I think the coaching from my faculty advisors, Dr. Neupauer and Dr. Kasprzyk, and Ph.D. student advisor was the reason why my paper stood apart from the rest in the graduate division as an undergraduate student. They really pushed me to write a paper that could be published in the most prestigious scientific journals and I think my hard work showed in my paper.
- What challenges did you face to maintain a balance between research/school/tennis and how did you approach these challenges?
To make the challenges a little more fun, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD at a young age. Because of those learning differences, I taught myself that schoolwork would take longer for me than for other traditional students. I taught myself to put in extra work to keep up in school and overcome my differences. As I began to catch up with the other students, I kept applying that work ethic to begin to excel in school and do other things. I enjoy putting in long hours at the library and then going out on the tennis court and putting in the preparation to be able to outwork my opponent on the court.
At times, it can be extremely overwhelming, but I have built up a wonderful support group of friends, family, professors and other adults, who believes in me to succeed, so when times get tough, I know I can rely on them to keep me going and give me that extra encouragement to push through the struggles.
- With the experiences you’ve had throughout your undergraduate and now BS/MS time, what type of advice would you give to freshmen and sophomores when deciding which area of interest to focus on?
The way that I found my way into Environmental Engineering was from speaking with people who work in the industry or teach in the field. I started as an Aerospace Engineering student, but decided to switch my major to Environmental following NASA losing a lot of their funding when I was a freshman. There was plenty of buzz surrounding where the jobs were going for the Aerospace field. I had experiences with ranching communities in Northwest Colorado with water delivery and irrigation issues, so I knew Environmental Engineering would be a great fit. I make a point to expand my network and ask professors, family friends, etc. to look around their network to see if they know anyone who has worked in my fields of interest and if they could put me in touch with them to learn more about the possible career paths I have. I also encourage them to seek out mentors, seniors, graduate students or professors to express their interests so that they can direct them to classes, internships or other experiences that they might like. There are many great organizations like the engineering fellows that help younger students find their passion.
April 27th 2016