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Ronda Strauch

Ph.D. Student in Civil & Environmental Engineering
Research Summary: 

My research focuses on assessing the vulnerability of transportation to climate change, particularly related to high flows and landslides. Using hydrologic modeling projections of future climate, I am helping communicate to managers in national parks and national forests what the future may have in store for their transportation management.


When I moved to Washington to attend graduate school, I worked for a year at the Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory, part of the U.S. Forest Service PNW Research Station in Seattle. This gave me the opportunity to meet Dr. Dave Peterson and secure funding from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to examine fire as it relates to climate change in a M.S. program at University of Washington (UW). I thought of fire as a mechanism to produce a "clean slate" and allow climate change to express itself in the selection of new trees and spatial patterns in subalpine forest that are already on the fringe of survival. From these humble and fortunate beginnings, I developed a concern and passion for understanding and coping with climate change. When I obtained a position in a county transportation department, I sought opportunities to influence people's opinions about climate change and to affect changes in the organization's projects or operations that would not only benefit mitigating emissions, but maximize resilience in transportation infrastructure. Now I'm advancing my understanding of climate, specifically hydrologic regime shifts, as it applies to managing the large network of roads and trails in our mountainous regions managed by USFS and National Park Service. By obtaining a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering at UW, I hope to transfer my knowledge and experience to planning activities and projects that benefit society as we prepare for the changes that are upon us.