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Karla Gleichauf

RELP Cohort: 2013
Civil and Environmental Engineering
School: Engineering

Karla Gleichauf is a Ph.D. candidate in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Stanford University, focusing on Environmental Fluid Mechanics. Her interest in science and management of water brought her to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West coast of the continental US. A complex and controversial environment, the Delta provides water for multiple listed and endangered species, nearly half of California, and a multi-billion dollar agriculture industry. The Delta faces many issues: subsidence, salinity intrusion, warming water temperatures, sea level rise, and potential levee failure from an earthquake.

Karla hopes that her research can help inform tough decisions in water policy.  Her research examines the movement of fish larvae, toxics, nutrients, heat and other ‘scalars’ through the tidal rivers of the Delta. In particular, she studies flow structures at river junctions because they change the overall dispersion and transport.  Her research consists of installing instruments at river junctions to measure velocity, salinity, and temperature, then analyzing the data using fluid mechanics principles, statistics, and geographic information science.  She recently presented to scientists, engineers, and policy makers at the 7th Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference 2012, Ecosystem Reconciliation: Realities Facing the San Francisco Estuary.

Outside of her research, Karla has taken 2 negotiation course including Public Policy Negotiation and Decision-making. Additionally, Karla has enjoyed serving as a community associate for 4 years at the Rains apartments on Stanford campus, where they help foster a sense of community by organizing social, education, and cultural programs.

Karla graduated from Rice University with a B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2008, and earned her M.S. with an emphasis in Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology from Stanford University in 2009. She also studied abroad at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2007.  Karla served as the Rice University Environmental Club President for 2 years where she organized events promoting recycling, volunteering to clean local parks, hosting speakers, watching documentaries, and getting students involved in local environmental issues.  She arranged a conference focusing on the evolution of Houston area air quality. Karla was a Stanford Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology Fellowship Recipient from 2008-2009 and a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellow from 2009-2012.