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PhD research student update: Jessica Liggett

Oct 13, 2014
Author: Goyder Institute


Jessica Liggett undertook her PhD studies at Flinders University (National Centre of Groundwater Research and Training) between 2010 and 2013.

Jessica’s PhD Project was titled An analysis of surface-subsurface exchange and solute transport processes in a fully integrated code

Hydrological modelling studies often separate surface water and groundwater, despite the known connection between the two. Techniques have been developed that simulate both the surface and subsurface water in a coupled manner. As a Goyder Institute PhD student, principally supervised by Professor Adrian Werner at Flinders University, Jessica undertook research which studied the impact these techniques have on catchment processes and the transport of solutes.

Jessica’s research was undertaken as part of NCGRT’s Research Program (Program 2) : Hydrodynamics and Modelling of Complex Groundwater Systems

Using groundwater modelling as a vehicle, Program 2 brings together physicists, engineers, mathematicians, chemists, geologists and experts in remote sensing, to better understand groundwater dynamics.

Program 2 is generating a series of new 3D groundwater models and simulation tools which are simpler to use, more accurate and reduce the uncertainty of the data that policy and decision makers use.

The new tools consider a wider range of environmental, geological and physical data sets. By overlaying and analysing these complex data sets, scientists are addressing fundamental questions such as how groundwater flows, how geology affects solute transport, how the environment influences groundwater levels, and how groundwater and the subsurface interact. This knowledge is enabling dynamic groundwater systems to be better protected and managed.

Career progress

Recently, Jessica has moved to a position as a hydrogeologist with the Alberta Geological Survey (AGS) in Canada. The AGS provides geological information to aid in the exploration, development, and conservation of the province's resources. Her current work is focused on the regional hydrogeological assessment of a (primarily) agricultural area that ill ultimately be used by the province's environmental division in the development of a groundwater monitoring and management framework.

The financial support in the form of a top-up scholarship, as well as the forums and networking opportunities provided by the Goyder Institute for Water Research were greatly appreciated, and allowed her to focus on research activities and develop valuable skills related to communicating scientific outcomes to a range of audiences and stakeholders. These skills will be beneficial in her new position at the AGS.