2020 – 2021 CSU Competitive Grant Program Awardees

The Colorado Water Center supports novel ideas and new water faculty with seed funds through our CSU Competitive Grant Program. Our 2020-2021 awardees received funding to conduct collaborative research and engagement that is needed to address urgent water-related challenges. Learn more about our selected interdisciplinary research teams and fellows below and read the feature SOURCE article.

Water Research Teams

mountain campus sign

Building a long-term watershed research site at CSU Mountain Campus

Sara Rathburn is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences. She is leading a large team of faculty, students, and partners to build a long-term watershed research site at CSU Mountain Campus. Rathburn and researchers want to study the headwaters of the South Fork of the Cache la Poudre River and make that information available for wider use. Through this project, the team will coordinate data collection, storage, and analysis as well as develop teaching content for CSU and the Poudre School District.

Team Investigators

PI: Sara Rathburn, Geosciences
Co-PIs: Kira Puntenney-Desmond, Stephanie Kampf, Steven Fassnacht, Matthew Ross, Ecosystem Science & Sustainability
Michael Ronayne, Daniel McGrath, Geosciences
Ryan Morrison, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Kristen Rasmussen, Atmospheric Science
Seth Webb, CSU Mountain Campus
Jared Heath, City of Fort Collins

Beaver-generated wetlands as ecosystem control points for post-fire transport of sediment, carbon, nutrients, and toxic metals into Rocky Mountain headwaters

Assistant Professor Mike Wilkins in the Soil & Crop Sciences Department is partnering with faculty and the U.S. Forest Service to conduct field and laboratory research to better understand water quality changes in post-fire landscapes. Specifically, the team will investigate ecosystem impacts of burned landscapes in beaver-generated wetlands in Colorado and Wyoming.

Team Investigators

PI: Michael Wilkins, Soil & Crop Sciences
Co-PIs: Thomas Borch, Soil & Crop Sciences
Charles Rhoades, United States Forest Service

Beaver on dam

Water Fellows

Students studying stream

Blake Osborn, Colorado Water Center

Integrating low-tech, process-based restoration techniques to a degraded perennial stream system: A community driven research model

Blake Osborn, Water Resources Specialist with the Colorado Water Center, is exploring restoration of degraded stream systems through collaborations with myriad community members including local water experts, Canon City High School, private landowners, local municipal water providers, and NGO’s. The project seeks to educate and train students and water professionals in natural river processes and restoration, improve hydrogeomorphic conditions in a two-mile stretch of Oak Creek in southeast Colorado, and provide data to inform state water managers about process-based restoration on stream system hydrology. Project impacts will be achieved by developing a new high school course that offers integrated STEM subjects and case studies.

Ryan Morrison, Civil & Environmental Engineering

Toward understanding the global impacts of human activities on floodplain integrity

Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Ryan Morrison is joining forces internationally to understand human impacts on floodplain integrity. Leveraging previous research Morrison will identify and compile global datasets and develop methodology to assess global floodplain integrity. Ultimately, they aim to help water and land managers target efforts toward the most impaired floodplains.

Yampa River floodplain