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Vadose Zone Hydrology

Soil showing vadose zones
Vadose zone hydrology deals with hydrological processes in the vadose zone, the zone between the soil surface and the groundwater table. Our research covers water flow in soils and segments, water conservation in dryland agriculture, transport and leaching of nutrients and contaminants, transport of inorganic particles ans pathogens. We also investigate spatial and temporal distribution of water in soils and how to measure and quanitify water in soils.



Colin Campbell with fields in the background

Colin Campbell, Decagon Devices

My current research focuses on water availability to plant processes in the soil/plant/atmosphere and its role in plant species progression and dormancy along with water conservation. Paramount to this effort is the conversion of sensor measurements to actionable information, so these projects include interdisciplinary collaboration between ecology, agriculture, environmental biophysics, and bioinformatics. The goal of this work is to provide stakeholders with better understanding upon which to base critical environmental decision-making.


Doug Cobos in front of tree branches

Doug Cobos, Decagon Devices

Through my “day job” at Decagon Devices, my research is primarily applied instrumentation development to improve biophysical observations. But, I sometimes get the chance to use those instruments to conduct basic research on biophysical interactions in the soil-plan t-atmosphere continuum.


Markus Flury

Markus Flury

Dr. Flury’s research interest is in the area of flow and transport in porous media, particularly in the vadose zone. Specific areas include: (1) Characterization of water flow and solute transport in the vadose zone, (2) colloid and colloid-facilitated contaminant transport through the vadose zone, (3) soil physical instrumentation and their applications, (4) sustainable use of soil resources.


Gabriel LaHue

Gabriel LaHue

My research program focuses on soil-water relations, soil fertility, and water-nutrient interactions. Key questions include: How can we manage soils to improve water relations, and how can we manage water to optimize soil processes and plant productivity? In western Washington where my research program is based, infiltration and hydraulic conductivity are central considerations for farmers wanting to get excess water off the field during the wet winters, but dry summers and limitations on irrigation mean that the soil’s water-holding capacity quickly becomes a key factor. The interactions between water and nutrients are also an area of particular interest to me, such as the application of fertilizers or pesticides through irrigation systems and soil moisture effects on nutrient availability and losses.


Haly Neely sitting at a desk.

Haly Neely

The goal of our lab is to quantify the interaction of soil, water, and plants at the field-scale to improve soil health and ecosystem resilience. Research activities can be grouped under two areas: 1) conserve water and protect the soil through soil health promoting practices and, 2) using sensor technology to quantify spatial soil moisture dynamics.


Zhenqing Shi

Dr. Zhenqing Shi is an adjunct faculty at CSS and now is a professor at the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, China. His current research focuses on the interactions of heavy metals with soil and soil components with both theoretical and experimental approaches.