CSU Libraries announce new wave of water research

Holly Roth and David Vale
Holly Roth, doctoral student of physical geography at the University of Colorado Boulder, and David Vail, associate professor of history at the University of Nebraska Kearney, are the recipients of the 2023 Water Scholar Award research grants.

In honor of World Water Day on March 22, the Colorado State University Libraries are announcing a new wave of water research, thanks to the Libraries’ 2023 Water Scholar Award research grants.

This year’s recipients are Holly Roth, doctoral student of physical geography at the University of Colorado Boulder, and David Vail, associate professor of history at the University of Nebraska Kearney.

The Water Scholar Awards are research grants that help offset the expenses of researchers engaged in studies that will benefit from access to the holdings of the Water Resources Archive. The grants may also offset costs associated with presentations, publications or other products resulting from that research.

Understanding water evaporation

Holly Roth is an interdisciplinary scientist applying scientific processes and findings to water resource management decisions in the western U.S.

The award will help Roth develop her doctoral dissertation that explores the changing dynamics and impacts of reservoir evaporation on water resources management in Colorado. Her research will help managers make informed decisions and better adapt to the effects of climate change.

Field notes, memos, reports and photographs from collections related to engineer Ralph Parshall, the Colorado Water Congress and the Colorado-Big Thompson Project will help her learn about historical precedents of and methods to measure evaporation.

“Evaporation is a major, but often misrepresented, component of the water cycle here in Colorado, and determining the best way to account for this water loss has always been a topic of discussion,” Roth said.

“I’m looking forward to working in the Water Resources Archive, as I will be able to work with new colleagues across disciplines and I will have access to so many historical materials,” Roth added. “All of these different documents will contribute significantly to my progress in my doctoral program.”

Droughts, floods and erosion on the Great Plains

David Vail is a historian specializing in teaching and research in agricultural and environmental history and the history of science and medicine.

His current research project explores how farm producers, agricultural scientists and federal policymakers made efforts toward crop safety and disaster relief in the late 1940s to early 1960s. He’ll explore collections related to the Great Plains Agricultural Council as well as notable figures in Colorado water history, such as Louis Carpenter, Ivan Wood and W.D. Farr.

“I’m so honored for this award,” Vail wrote. “These collections in the Water Resources Archive and the complicated stories they tell can provide the historical grounding and perspectives that we need for the risks ahead.”

The archival collections will provide the historical context, connections and scientific documentation needed for his upcoming book, “Vulnerable Harvests: Emergency Conservation in the Cold War Great Plains.” The book will offer new findings on the region’s influence on agricultural-environmental conservation and emergency federalism during the Cold War .

Additional information

The Water Scholar Awards are an annual award with a deadline in January. Those who have questions about the awards or the Water Resources Archive can contact Patty Rettig, archivist at the CSU Libraries, at Patricia.Rettig@colostate.edu.