Graduate Fellows

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Graduate Fellows


Kara Marsac

Hello, my name is Kara Marsac. I am pursuing my PhD in Hydrology under Alexis Navarre-Sitchler as a ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE2ST Fellow. My research focuses on the feasibility of using non-potable water for oil and gas activities. I have a BS in Geoscience from Eastern Michigan University where I was a Presidential Scholar and completed my undergraduate thesis in algal paleontology. I have a MS from University of Nevada Las Vegas, where my research was on geochemical modeling of gamma radiation in the bedrock and soil to assist in hazard mapping of radiation contamination and nuclear disaster response. My passion is doing research that has a direct positive impact on society, and after I completed the RECS (Research Experience in Carbon Sequestration) program my interests turned to sustainability in energy. I'm incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the WE2ST center! When I'm not busy as a graduate student I enjoying traveling, reading, and working on home renovations. 

Emily Nicholas 

Hello, my name is Emily Nicholas. I received my B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Colorado School of Mines (CSM) where I worked in the AQWATEC lab. Currently I am pursuing a M.S. with thesis in Civil and Environmental Engineering at CSM. In between my undergraduate and graduate studies I worked for Halliburton as a field engineer for the Production Enhancement Department. My time in industry was primarily spent on hydraulic fracturing operations in the Powder River Basin. Under the guidance of Dr. Tzahi Cath I am researching on the fly treatment of flowback and production water for reuse. I am excited to be part of the ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE2ST to further advance water management solutions that integrate economics and environmental sustainability in a changing world of energy production. In my free time I enjoy reading, drawing, and spending time outdoors. 

Karl Oetjen

Hello, my name is Karl Oetjen.  I graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2012 with a B.S. in geology and environmental science.  While I was there I focused on how anthropogenic activities affected nutrient loading in local watersheds and during this time I became interested in hydrology and sustainability.  In 2014, I completed my M.S. in environmental engineering and science at Syracuse University.  My master’s thesis focused on volatile and semi-volatile organic trends in produced waters throughout the gas shale fracturing process. I also examined groundwaters located in the vicinity of gas shale fracturing wells for traces of these compounds.  I am currently working on my Ph.D. in hydrology with Dr. Chris Higgins at Colorado School of Mines.  My research interests include characterization methods for produced waters as well as assessing the efficiency of treatment methods for produced waters.  In my free time, I like to compete in obstacle course races and triathlons. As a WE2ST fellow, I am excited to work with ConocoPhillips and help them continue to provide the community with a better understanding of the water-energy nexus. 

Christopher Ruybal

Hello, my name is Christopher Ruybal.  I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) and am co-advised by Dr. John McCray and Dr. Terri Hogue. My research focuses on groundwater resource evaluations (e.g. methane detection, groundwater quantity) for shale oil and gas production in the Rocky Mountain West.  I completed a M.S. in Environmental Science and Engineering from CSM and a B.S. in Environmental Science (chemistry and mathematics minors) from Regis University. I am excited to be a Graduate Fellow within the WE2ST Center and have the opportunity to contribute to water-energy research. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family on the ranch/farm, playing the guitar, painting, fishing, and hiking.

Erin Sedlacko

Hello! My name is Erin Sedlacko and I am currently pursuing my PhD in Environmental Engineering Science under Dr. Andrea Blaine as a ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE2ST Fellow. My research focuses on the Food-Energy-Water Nexus, and in particular, the uptake and metabolism of compounds in crops irrigated with produced water from Oil & Gas operations.  I completed my MS at CSM in Environmental Science and Engineering, where I was fortunate enough to combine my passion for environmental health with my previous undergraduate work in Environmental & Plant Biology as a collaborator and co-author on several projects exploring the uptake and bioaccumulation of Fluorochemicals and Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) into food crops from both reclaimed water and biosolids- amended soils.  Continuing that work after graduation, I have enjoyed the research of many exciting and diverse projects, ranging from the fate and transport of CECs in urban stormwater systems to the potential treatment of produced water with constructed wetland cells, focused at the Mines Park Greenhouse as a Research Associate in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at CSM under Dr. Chris Higgins.  As vice president of an environmental consulting firm, I am excited to join the WE2ST team in their focus on the joint sustainability of water resources and unconventional petroleum energy in the Mountain West.

Michael Vega

Hello, my name is Michael Vega. I recently graduated with B.S.'s in Geology and Chemistry from Kansas State University, and am now pursuing an M.S. in Hydrologic Science and Engineering at Colorado School of Mines. My research interests are in aqueous geochemistry, specifically how the interplay between redox sensitive contaminants, microbial activity, and organic matter can affect water quality. Through my undergraduate research, I investigated how organic matter quality influences the release of arsenic and manganese in West Bengal groundwater. Now, under the supervision of Professor Jonathan (Josh) Sharp, I will be applying similar principles to understand the role that biological wastewater treatment processes (e.g., constructed wetlands) can play in remediating produced and flowback waters. I am passionate about the environment – particularly with respect to water – and could not be more excited to conduct research and learn about the convergence of water sustainability and energy resources within the ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE2ST. Aside from academics, I enjoy backpacking, traveling, reading, and spending time with family. 

Flannery Dolan

Hello, my name is Flannery Dolan. I graduated with a B.S. in Geophysics from the Colorado School of Mines where I spent the last two years as an undergraduate researcher in the Hogue research group. Since high school, I knew I wanted to study earth resources to help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges—such as making sure there is enough water for future generations. I’m so excited to be working in the WE2ST Center to examine this issue in the scope of the water-energy nexus. My research is focused on the economic feasibility of reusing produced water for agriculture. In my free time, I enjoy snowboarding, practicing yoga, reading, travelling, and generally spending time outside.

Frances Marlin

Hello, my name is Frances Marlin. I graduated from the Colorado School of Mines with a bachelor’s of science in Environmental Engineering and minor in Humanitarian Engineering in December 2016. I am now pursuing a master’s of science in Civil and Environmental Engineering under Dr. Jessica Smith and Dr. John McCray. While pursuing my bachelor’s degree I became aware of the many challenges our society faces in attempting to balance the often-competing areas of energy extraction, social license to operate, economic viability, and environmental stewardship. While these challenges often require multidimensional solutions, their controversial nature often divides the affected stakeholders. This division can lead to incomplete and unsustainable outcomes that are detrimental to all parties involved. My research examines how communities, local governments, and companies use the policy innovation of MOUs to manage the environmental dimensions of unconventional energy development. I am excited about   the opportunity of working with the ConocoPhillips Center for a Sustainable WE2ST in order to help develop a better understanding of the complex challenges that have arisen from unconventional energy development in the Colorado Front Range. 







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