UC Davis Student Pursuing Ph.D. in Hydrologic Sciences Wins Award

Laura Garza Díaz Selected for the Neal Van Alfen and James MacDonald Graduate Student Award

UC Davis student Laura Garza Díaz, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in hydrologic sciences, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Neal Van Alfen and James MacDonald Graduate Student Award. She’s being recognized by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Graduate Education Committee for her demonstrated leadership and original research that supports the college’s mission to serve agriculture, the environment and human health and development.

Laura Garza Díaz
Laura Garza Díaz

“I'm truly honored to receive such a distinguished award,” Garza Díaz said. “It's quite an ecstatic feeling to be recognized for all the hard work put into my Ph.D.”

Garza Díaz is studying with the Water Resources Management Lab, led by Associate Professor Sam Sandoval with land, air and water resources. She specializes in water policy and management, with a focus on developing framework to evaluate the ecological resilience of river basins. Her research includes assessing the Rio Grande/Bravo, a transboundary river basin shared by the United States and Mexico, and how it’s impacted by droughts and floods.

During the summer of 2019, she designed an interdisciplinary field course to diagnose the water use and irrigation practices of the Cuatro Ciénegas Valley in Mexico, which features a rare oasis in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert. The program was designed for undergraduate students attending Tecnológico de Monterrey.

She’s also involved with the Women in Science initiative with the Permanent Forum of Binational Water, a network of specialists and citizen who work together on water issues between the U.S. and Mexico. The program highlights the work and research of women working in various aspects and regions of the border between Mexico and the United States.

“This initiative strives to empower women and to give them a space to be heard and seen,” Garza Díaz said.

During her time at UC Davis, especially with the water management lab, Garza Díaz said she’s been able to develop a wide array of skills, methodologies and approaches for different scientific topics, and values the relationships she’s made along the way.

“My journey has been exceptional, and I have enjoyed diving into the very complicated world of transboundary river basins and resilience theory,” she said. “UC Davis is an incredible venue for learning, doing research and making long-lasting connections and friends.”

The Neal Van Alfen and James MacDonald Graduate Student Award was established to acknowledge the contributions of former CA&ES Dean Van Alfen and former Executive Associate Dean MacDonald.

Media Resources

Laura E. Garza-Díaz, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, legarza@ucdavis.edu

Sam Sandoval, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, samsandoval@ucdavis.edu

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