What’s Up Wednesdays – Post 7

Let’s hear from Samantha Butwill.

“I am currently creating a series of SWMM models for the East Branch of the Indian Creek. One goal of the models is to determine how the installation of storm water control measures (SCMs) will influence the water quality and quantity in the creek. To this end, I will model the current conditions of the creek, the creek after the implementation of a proposed swale system (slated to be installed at the end of the summer), and various hypothetical SCM implementation scenarios. Taking community receptiveness into consideration, I am working with Narberth Borough and Lower Merion Conservancy to determine which hypothetical scenarios are most feasible.”

Sam Butwill joined VUSP in June 2015, right after completing her bachelor’s in civil engineering at Villanova. She will graduate in May 2017 with a master’s in civil engineering. She is working with the Delaware River Watershed Initiative funded by the William Penn Foundation. Along with other colleagues, she manages three sites in upstream suburban Philadelphia (in Abington, Narberth, and Horsham), and her advisor is Dr. Andrea Welker.

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Meetup Mondays – Post 4

In this post, get to know Cory Byrnes’ experience working with the VUSP.

Sonali: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Cory: Well, I was born in Summit, NJ but moved to Charlotte, NC with my family when I was 2 and lived in Charlotte until I was 18. I am a bit of a unique student.  I am a 27 year old completing a second undergraduate degree; my first degree is in Economics from the University of Arkansas.  I love economics and the science that goes along with it, but I decided, after working at a mortgage company for a year, that day in and day out, office life was never going to bring me the fulfillment I wanted.  So after a bit of soul searching, I decided that I needed to change directions in my life and that any new direction I wanted to take was going to require an engineering degree.  So, after contemplating what format of engineering to focus in, I landed on Civil Engineering. That’s about the long skinny on how I got here at Nova.

Q. How did you hear about VUSP and why did you choose it?

A. I initially heard about the VUSP from Dr. Hampton (civil engineering professor at VU) who recommended me to the program and Dr. Traver’s work. However, I didn’t hear too much detail about it until Cara Albright (VUSP Ph.D candidate) reached out to me to potentially work with her on her portion of the project.  From there I communicated with Cara and Dr. Traver and got all the details. Green infrastructure development is a large part of the reason I decided to go back to school for civil engineering. Therefore the VUSP and Dr. Traver’s work was an automatic draw for me. Beyond my initial interest though, I wanted to get involved with a well-established organization/group, and the VUSP is definitely such a group.

Q. How has your experience been in the VUSP program so far? 

A. My experience thus far has been good. The research has given me the opportunity to work on a multitude of projects: everything from operating the flume in the fluids lab to do flow testing, to data collection and analysis, down to some more nitty-gritty hands on work in the labs and field sites.  It has been an enjoyable learning experience thus far and I do not anticipate that will change.

This article was originally published in the VUSP Summer 2016 Newsletter. The full article is available here.



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What’s Up Wednesdays – Post 6

Let’s hear from Taylor DelVecchio!!

“I am continuing to take daily readings of water storage at my bench-scale site on campus (with the help of my trusty partner Amanda). The volume removal data for the five soil types we are testing has proven to be interesting thus far. I am looking forward to the end of August when I can analyze all of my data for the summer months and see what trends we have. I am interested in seeing how the ET rates compare in all of the soil types. I am also leaning more into the quality aspects of my research. So far we have done seven quality testing events at my site, so I am excited to look at the results of the data. Also, I am working to set up flexible wall permeability tests in the soils laboratory to create breakthrough curves of phosphate for my five different soil types.”

Taylor did undergraduate research for the VUSP during her senior year here and then joined as a graduate student in summer 2015. Her site is a new site on campus called the Optimal Balance site. It’s a small bench-scale study site located behind the wetlands where they are testing different soil types for rain gardens. Taylor’s advisers are Dr. Wadzuk and Dr. Welker.

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What’s Up Wednesdays – Post 5

Today, one of our former graduate students, Zach Zukowski, is going to present his research work at 12:30 PM. The link to watch the video and the abstract are below.

Evaluation of Field Hydraulic Conductivity Data: Comparing Spot Infiltrometer Test Data to Continuous Recess (click on the link to watch the Live Broadcast or video after. Questions during the broadcast are welcome!)

Sustainable infrastructure research has led to an increase in the use of stormwater control measures (SCMs). Rain gardens are vegetated SCMs which promote infiltration, evapotranspiration, or both. As the use of rain gardens and other sustainable practices becomes more common, cost effective techniques are needed to determine site properties for design and to assess their performance after construction. A major component of rain garden performance is hydraulic conductivity, which can be determined by infiltration testing. The double-ring infiltrometer test, while commonly used in practice, can take long periods of time to complete. Single-ring infiltrometer tests often use less water and require less time to implement, enabling more tests to be completed in the same period of time.

Seven small single ring infiltrometer tests were performed at a rain garden on Villanova’s campus in Fall 2014 to determine the field hydraulic conductivity of surficial soil in the SCM. The instrumentation at the site used in the field study has been recording the recession rate in the pond over the past twelve years. Comparing the pond recession rate to the field hydraulic conductivity, it was found that the less commonly used single-ring infiltrometer method can be an accurate predictor of SCM performance.

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Throwback Thursday Series – Post 11

#TBT to 2013!! VUSP PA Stormwater Symposium 2013.


We love our biennial symposium. It’s a great opportunity to learn from one another and to network with other stormwater management professionals. Our next stormwater symposium will be held in October 2017.

However, we are hosting the VUSP Open House on August 10th, 2016. Mark your calendars. We will be sharing more details about the open house soon on this blog and on our website www.villanova.edu/vusp

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What’s Up Wednesdays – Post 4

Let’s hear from two of our PhD candidates on what they are up to!

Jerry Zaremba: “I am currently working on setting up the new green roof system for the summer months. The new irrigation setup will allow us to water the roof between storm events to maximize the roof potential for evapotranspiration. There’s been several challenges and road blocks along the way but hopefully everything will be up and running for June. I’m excited for everything to be working so we can let the system go in autonomous mode and begin to collect what will hopefully be some interesting data and allow us to make this a truly smart system.”

Conor Lewellyn: “I am currently working on setting up the Villanova treatment train to operate with real-time controls. One of the goals of the project is to optimize the performance of the treatment train through the use of a real-time control system, and compare it to previous performance. Setting this up involves installing 22 sensors and working with OptiRTC to ensure the real-time control operational plans are setup correctly.”

Note: We will follow up with Jerry and Conor in the near future to see if everything worked out as planned or not.

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What’s Up Wednesdays – Post 3

Let’s see what Dr. Ryan Lee, is up to these days!!

“I am currently working on the VUSP data management system. We currently have over a dozen research SMPs (Stormwater Management Practices) instrumented or being instrumented for monitoring, all of which have a dozen or so (on average) sensors recording data every few minutes (the Zoo Rain Garden “takes the cake” with about 70 time-series variables!).

Maintaining that data in a state such that relevant data can easily be extracted, viewed, and analyzed is no small feat! Our current system is working well, but now that we have several researchers using the system, it is easier to see the bumps that need to be smoothed out.”

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Meetup Mondays – Post 3

In this post, get to know Madeleine Johnstone’s experience working with the VUSP.

Maddy Johnston Profile
Q. What year are you at Villanova?
Maddy: I am a rising senior civil engineering student at Villanova.

Q. How did you become interested in the VUSP internship?
Maddy: A friend who works in the lab told me about the internship opportunity. At the time, I was experiencing a mini crisis, as I was heading into the second semester of my junior year and had no idea which discipline of civil engineering I wanted to focus on. The opportunity gave me a chance to experience the water resources field beyond the classroom, so I decided to pursue it. I also figured that California, my home state, is currently in one of the worst droughts in history and in desperate need of some water resources engineers.

Q. What has your experience been like so far?
Maddy: The experience has been incredibly rewarding. Not only is the work environment friendly and welcoming, but I have also learned a great deal about the stormwater management sites on and off campus, as well as the laboratory procedures and tests run on the samples to evaluate these measures. Additionally, I have witnessed the partnerships that VUSP maintains with companies that I could potentially work with in the future.

Q. Tell us about helping the EPA star grant team out in the field in Philadelphia.
Maddy: Working out in the field in Philadelphia provided a nice change in scenery from the lab. A few fellow undergraduates and I replaced the sensors in the soil surrounding the trees in the Morris Leeds Tree Trench. This green infrastructure design allows stormwater runoff to flow into a storm drain and then into the empty spaces behind trees through a distribution pipe. This field work allowed me to experience and work with stormwater measures off campus, as well as influence data collection for this research. I also was able to directly see the people that my work affected.

Q. What are you looking forward to with the VUSP in the future?
Maddy: I’m looking forward to helping expand the program by increasing awareness about it. Many people, like me before working in the lab, don’t know where the sites are on campus. I also want to just continue to grow in my own learning of water resources and stormwater control measurement.

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Throwback Thursday Series – Post 10

There are so many different and exciting things going on in the WR lab. I recently visited the lab and was able to recall a lot of fond memories and challenging days (when the equipment didn’t listen to me!) from the time when I was the Lab Manager. A lot has changed in the last few years including a complete lab renovation, new nutrient analyzers and becoming university certified green lab!! If you would ever like to tour our lab or work as an intern, please email the Lab Director, Erica Forgione to inquire more.


Lab Renovations Collage

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What’s Up Wednesdays – Post 2

So excited that our work was featured here! Click on the link to read about what our PhD candidate Cara Albright is up to at her site at the Philadelphia zoo.


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