Postdoc in Water Resources Management for the Circular Economy of Water Professorship

This is a joint position between Tecnologico de Monterrey and University of California Davis as part of the Circular Economy of Water Professorship at the Water Center for Latin America and the Caribbean, in order to conduct high-level research and technological development.

DEPARTMENT DESCRIPTION

The Water Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (WCLAC), a joint initiative of Tecnológico de Monterrey, FEMSA Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank, is located in Monterrey, Mexico. Its mission is to contribute to the sustainability of water use in Latin America and the Caribbean by conducting research, innovation, knowledge transfer, training, and decision support for the public and private sector. The thematic focus areas are water resources management, water quality and treatment, environmental geoprocesses, and water-energy-food nexus. Currently, WCLAC has six principle investigators with different disciplines, a dozen of staff members and ten graduate students.

The Center for Water-Energy Efficiency (CWEE) is located at the University of California Davis in Davis, California (USA). The center conducts research through contract and grant funding from federal, state, and private sponsors. CWEE brings together a range of disciplines, agencies and organizations across California to conduct, translate, and disseminate science- and policy-based research to advance innovations in water efficiency and the water-energy nexus. CWEE currently has three active principal investigators across different departments, eight staff members, ten or more graduate students, and an undergraduate/graduate internship program.

POSITION DETAILS

Job Summary

Under the direction of the Center for Water-Energy Efficiency (CWEE) Director at University of California Davis and the Water Science and Technology group (WS&T) Leader at Tecnologico de Monterrey, the successful candidate will serve as a Post Doctoral Scholar to work on various initiatives. The position involves executing technical and written aspects of project deliverables and research projects consistent with the Circular Economy of Water Professorship. Under the direction of the two principal investigators, the position will require independent engineering judgment to apply engineering theory, perform research tasks, collaborate with staff and students, and develop written technical reports and journal articles. The candidate will be capable to build or analyze hydraulic and groundwater models, perform basic to moderate data processing, analysis and use of engineering concepts and calculations to execute moderately complex engineering assignments.

The successful candidate will tentatively work on two distinct projects.

  1. Agriculture in Mexico faces an uncertain future with predicted losses in surface water caused by climate change, and depleting groundwater supplies from unsustainable rates of extraction. The extent to which groundwater, surface water, energy use, and agricultural productivity are a function of one another has yet to be fully quantified in such a way that can assess both current and future nonlinear dependencies. Our long term goal is to assess and support the management of systems in groundwater dependent agricultural regions influenced by significant drought and water scarcity. The overall objective of this project is to quantify groundwater linkages in a highly integrated system and to evaluate future scenarios of management that maintain groundwater sustainability in a dynamic climate, address issues of water scarcity, and enhance implementation of new regulations and/or public policy arrangements. This project will develop a computational modeling framework to evaluate a range of stakeholder defined management scenarios, using the Guanajuato region as a case study. The central hypothesis of this project is that groundwater directly affects and integrates food, water, and energy sectors such that the successful future joint management of these sectors is only possible by explicitly maintaining a sustainable aquifer system. We will test this hypothesis with a realistic fully-integrated model involving governance and management stakeholders in its use in scenario testing under climate change in the Guanajuato region in Mexico. The rationale for this project is that current methods to monitor and measure regional groundwater systems vary geographically and are often non-existent, which reduces the capacity to implement management strategies that maintain agricultural systems sustainably. Finally, the project will provide stakeholders with a tool expected to simplify the water resources management of agricultural systems in Mexico.
  2. Water utility sector currently has few options for controlling their energy demand during specific time periods - including reducing, shifting, or ramping up-loads to adhere to different energy rate structures. Typically, water distribution systems are managed by meeting customer water demands which fluctuate throughout the day and over the course of a week. To ensure customer needs are met, water system operators focus on meeting demands. Optimizing energy use to save costs is often an afterthought (or simply unmanageable). There is a gap in knowledge of how to effectively manage the energy demands of tens to hundreds of pumps within a distribution system, while still ensuring customer water demands are sufficiently met. In addition, evaluating energy use and costs under different energy rate structures and changing operational practices to reduce, shift, or increase demands during specific time periods is challenging and requires continuous data analysis (which can be outside the technical ability of a water utility). This project will develop and test an integrated approach to increase water utility participation in demand response (DR) through optimizing demand management. This project will combine water system hydraulic modeling with operations analytics and optimization algorithms to produce a demand management solution (DMS), an application that generates the logic and controls for a water system. The DMS will be configured to analyze the energy loads of the Monterrey water system. The DMS will provide the critical knowledge needed to understand the daily and seasonal energy and water demands of the system. This knowledge will be used to develop a customized water system operational guide for water system operators to detail strategies for energy demand management.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Strong attention to detail and writing, editing and proofreading skills to quickly and accurately produce complex technical and non-technical material for audiences of varying backgrounds.
  • Professional demeanor with interpersonal and communication skills to work effectively and diplomatically with university staff and external partners, and people from diverse ethnic, economic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Experience using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other MS products and use of third-party databases.
  • Experience applying critical thinking and good engineering judgment to ascertain relevant from irrelevant data and separate vital factors from less important ones.
  • Ability to learn new technologies and develop new skills to meet research challenges and promote professional growth.
  • Skills to work collaboratively in a complex, fast-paced research and development environment.
  • Work experience performing engineering design and/or technical calculations.
  • Experience in or technical knowledge of water and/or wastewater engineering systems and/or operations in the urban, industrial, and/or agriculture sectors.
  • Broad understanding of energy- and water-efficiency related technologies, methods, and policies.
  • Doctorate of Philosophy in Engineering (Civil or Environmental Preferred) or another related discipline.
  • Basic experience with scientific programming and data analysis (e.g. proficiency with R, Julia, or Python for data analysis), and/or basic experience with general-purpose programming languages for business software development (e.g. proficiency with C++, Java, C#), and/or basic experience with web application development technologies (e.g. proficiency with JavaScript, HTML, CSS).
  • Experience designing and programming optimizations for water distribution networks with hydraulic modeling software (particularly using EPAnet).
  • Experience analyzing hydraulic models of real or fictional water distribution networks (e.g. EPAnet, InfoWater, WaterCAD).
  • Experience building and running groundwater models (e.g., MODFLOW).

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Data analysis experience with structured and unstructured data sources (particularly with large data sets).
  • Engineering report writing or editing experience.
  • Experience developing applications to perform complex engineering calculations, hydraulic modeling, groundwater modeling, optimization, or data analysis in a team environment.
  • Experience designing and programming pump schedule or operating policy optimizations for water distribution networks with hydraulic modeling software.
  • Has published research which utilized hydraulic modeling to analyze a real or fictional water distribution system and groundwater models to manage food-water-energy systems.

About the Employer:

Tecnológico de Monterrey, the leading private University in México (World QS Ranking: 158), continues strengthening and renewing the commitment with its research strategy, making research an institutional priority to: significantly contribute to the quality of its teaching-learning process (Educate), transform the scientific and technological knowledge into innovative solutions that benefit society (Innovate) and transform, through knowledge generation and transfer, impacting the community in economic, political and social aspects. Aimed to fulfill these objectives, Tecnológico de Monterrey has designed an action-research model, named Research that Transforms Lives, based on a collaborative, interdisciplinary and open innovation ecosystem, with participation of researchers, teachers, professional and graduate students. Research that Transforms Lives objective is to be and engine that generates innovative solutions for the economic and social development of México. 40 Research Groups with Strategic Focus have been stablished where the scientific activity starts from a specific challenge, which is connected with a discipline and, more precisely, connected with specific topics and approaches. The entire scientific publication effort is done having in mind an application context, either to support the productive sector or to satisfy the communities' social demands on issues such as health, food, education, housing, transportation, business, public policy, among others.

Contact for information and application: Jürgen Mahlknecht (jurgen@tec.mx)

published: 24 June 2019     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.