Pugel headshot
PhD Candidate
Civil Systems • Science and Technology Policy
428 UCB
ECCE 153
Boulder, CO 80309-0428

Program analyst in practice and civil/environmental engineer by training, Kimberly (she/her/hers) studies international development programs that bring stakeholders and government together to collaboratively provide reliable, sustainable water and sanitation services in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and Cambodia as a part of the USAID Sustainable WASH Systems learning partnership. See research updates here. She knows that many of her generation's biggest challenges cannot be solved by any one entity and instead require a diverse set of stakeholders working collaboratively to address water scarcity, sanitation, water reuse, wildfires, and climate adaptation.

Kimberly is a fourth-year PhD candidate in Civil Systems Engineering at CU Boulder. She received her Masters in Civil Engineering with a certificate in Science and Technology Policy from CU Boulder in 2019, and she received her B.S. from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in Environmental Engineering in 2017 with a minor in Gender, Race, Culture, Science, and Technology. She also supported and coordinated science-policy related workstreams within UN intergovernmental frameworks and allied processes, such as for the High Level Political Forum, for the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) for four years (2015 - 2019). Previously, she worked in groundwater remediation and innovative solutions for water reclamation and energy reuse using algae biomass as the primary research assistant on projects for the National Science Foundation Global Waste Research Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy. Her current interests are on water and sanitation, policy, program impact, and sustainability.

Why I chose a PhD: As I imagine my future career, I know that every day I want to work through complex problems at the intersection of engineering, policy, and society. After growing up in an old mining town in Northern California where mining waste has leached into the groundwater, and after losing a town I loved in a ravaging forest fire in 2018, I knew that I wanted my engineering career to make a truly positive impact on our environment and every person who lives in it. I decided to pursue a PhD so that I could have the skills and experience to confidently tackle these problems.


  • MS in Civil Systems Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, 2019

       - Certificate: Science and Technology Policy

  • BS in Environmental Engineering, California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo, 2017 

       - Minor: Gender, Race, Culture, Science and Technology


  • ASCE New Face in Civil Engineering - Professional 2021 (read interview here)

  • Best Presentation Award, Engineering Projects and Organizations Conference 2018

  • University of Colorado Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science Doctoral Assistantship for Excellence Award, 2017

  • College of Engineering Top Graduating Senior for Academic Excellence, Cal Poly, 2017 (read press release here)

  • Outstanding Woman in Engineering – Nominee, Cal Poly, 2017