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Verónica L. Morales


My work is driven by interest in unveiling emerging physico-chemical processes at the micro-scale that control macroscopic transport of contaminants in soils and groundwater. Topics I am currently interested in include:

  • Fate and transport of colloids and nanoparticles in the vadose zone

  • Preferential flow through porous media

  • Interactions between pore-space structure and macroscopic transport

  • Biochar engineering

  • Evaporative self-assembly


2008 - 2011                       PhD Biological & Environmental Engineering at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, US (Adv. Tammo S Steenhuis) 

2005 - 2007                       MSc Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, US (Adv. Tammo S Steenhuis)


2000 - 2004                       BSc Environmental Science at Univeristy of California at Santa Barbara, CA, US


2000 - 2004                       BA Spanish Literature at University of California at Santa Barbara, CA, US

2002 - 2003                       Study Abroad at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, SP

Research & Teaching Experience

2021 - present      Associate Professor - Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA, US      

2017 - 2021           Assistant Professor - Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA, US      

2014 - 2016           AXA Research Fund Post-doc Fellow at IfU -  Environmental Fluid Mechanics, ETH Zürich, Zürich, CH                           

2011 - 2014           Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow Post-doc at SIMBIOS Centre, University of Abertay, Dundee, UK

                                and IfU - Groundwater & Hydromechanics, ETH Zürich, Zürich, CH                  

2012                       Visiting Scientist at College of Agriculture and Life Sciences/KAUST-CU Centre, Cornell University, Ithaca,

                                NY, US 

2012                       Visiting Lecturer at Dept. Plant Biology and Soil Science, University of Vigo, Ourense, ES


2010                       Course Instructor at Cornell Prison Education Program, Auburn Correctional Facility, Auburn, NY, US

2005 - 2005           Research Assistant at Dept. Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California at Davis, Vandenberg,

                                CA, US 

2003 - 2004           Undergraduate Research Assistant at Santa Barbara Coastal Long Term Ecological Research, Goleta, CA, US

Grant Support

2022                       EMSL PNNL Large-Scale Proposal: Advancing Micromodel and Imaging Capability to Detect Hotspots in The

                                Hyporheic Zone Y2. (Co-PI, 750 resource hours)

2021                       EMSL PNNL Large-Scale Proposal: Advancing Micromodel and Imaging Capability to Detect Hotspots in The

                                Hyporheic Zone Y1. (Co-PI, 450 resource hours)

2020                       University of California COVID-Impacted Research Funding Program: Nanoparticle Filtration in Agricultural Soils.

                                (PI, 41,675 USD)

2020                       NSF-CBBG Proposal Y6-7: Enabling In Situ Manganese Biomineralization in Granual Media. (Co-PI, 185,768 USD)

2019                       Hellman Fellowship Program: Pore-Structural Features of Aquifers That Control Engineered Nanomaterial

                                Spreading in Groundwater. (PI, 19,500 USD)


2019                       NSF CAREER: Fundamental Controls of Transport Attributes from Porous Media Microstructure. (PI, 500,000 USD)

2018                       ACS Petroleum Research Fund: Predicting Degree of Preferential Flow in Porous Media From Pore-Network

                                Properties. (PI, 110,000 USD)

2018                       New Research Initiatives:  Predicting the Flow in Porous Media from Its Pore Network Structure. (PI, 23,133 USD)

2018                       Sloan Scholars Mentoring Network: Transport Processes of Engineered Nano-Contaminants in Structurally 

                                Complex Agricultural Soils. (PI, 10,000 USD)

2014 - 2016           AXA Research FundDynamics of Particle Re-mobilization In Porous Media by Chemical and Physical

                                Perturbations. (PI, 120,000 EUR)

2014                       Graduate Women in Science - Eloise Gerry Fellowship: Understanding Environmental Disturbances That Release

                                Colloids and Nanoparticles from Contaminated Soils.  (PI, 5,028 USD)

2012 - 2014           Marie Curie-International Incoming Fellowships: Effect of Soil Architecture on Transport and

                                Retention of Silver Nano-Litter. (PI, 200,371 EUR)

2012                       Royal Society of EdinburghMechanisms of Reversible Microbial Attachment Onto Vegetable Surfaces. (co-PI, 1,600


Awards & Honors

2020                       AGU Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award

2019                       UC Davis Hellman Fellow

2016                       Communicate Your Science Video Competition Finalist, European Geophysical Union General Assembly

2014                       Participating researcher in the United Kingdom Research Excellence Framework

2012                       Subvention for the Mobility of Visiting Professors by Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport 

2011                       Facilitating Creative Chances. Project Unicorn

2010                       Best poster award at International Conference and Exploratory Workshop on Soil Architecture and Physico-

                                Chemical Functions

2010                       Teresa & H. John Heinz III Foundation: Dissertation Award 

2009                       Carl Storm Scholarship, Gordon Research Conference 

2008                       Water quality graduate student scholarship. NG Kaul Memorial Scholarship 


2008, 2006            Engineering Learning Initiative, Cornell University          

2006                       Community Partnership Board Grant, Cornell University 

2005 - 2008           Graduate student fellowship. Cornell-Sloan Fellowship 

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