Updates from the Director

September, 2022

Alexandra Lutz collects water samples in a river

Alexandra Lutz

Director, Graduate Program of Hydrologic Sciences

Welcome to Fall semester 2022.  We are celebrating 60 years of Graduate Program of Hydrologic Sciences! Our program was founded by Dr George Burke Maxey in 1962.

Dr. Maxey was recruited into a joint appointment between the Mackay School of Mines at UNR and Desert Research Institute (DRI) in 1962. He was hired to develop a water research program and chose to start a graduate program in Hydrology/Hydrogeology. From its inception, Dr. Maxey envisioned it to be an interdisciplinary program. A former colleague of Dr. Maxey’s recalls,

The program was an interdisciplinary one because water cuts across all disciplinary lines as a significant resource, and no one department taught all of the course-work needed to create what Maxey believed was required to make a well-rounded "water science person" be he/she hydrologist or civil engineer or hydrogeologist or geologist or water resources economist or political scientist or philosopher…[t]he program accepted students with all of those backgrounds…

When Dr. Maxey started the program, he was already a well-regarded hydrogeologist, having worked in both the discipline and state for some time. During the 1940s, he worked for the USGS in Las Vegas and Ely. Dr. Maxey, Tom Eakin, and others made estimates of groundwater recharge - you might come across that work referenced as the “Maxey-Eakin Method” or “Maxey and Eakin, 1949.” See the original Maxey-Eakin document.

A fun fact - Dr. Maxey served as an advisor to the very first Ph.D. graduate from the University of Nevada.  Read more about Dr. Maxey in NEVADA Today. Dr. Maxey passed in 1977 but his legacy continued and grew. In the late 1970s, there were 20-25 hydrology/hydrogeology students on DRI graduate research fellowships. At UNR, faculty in the Mackay School of Mines, College of Engineering, and College of Agriculture advised students on topics such as irrigation drainage, snow hydrology, and ag economics, which grew the program to 40 students in the 1980s.

As we celebrate 60 years of GPHS, we also look forward to the next six decades.  Our faculty are conducting research across increasingly broad fields of hydrology.  The program’s early days were dominated by male professors and students.  During the 1980s, female students began enrolling in the program.  Today, we count many female faculty among our colleagues. 

This fall we welcome five new students into the program: Ally Fitts, Alyssa Radakovich, Andrew Pavlu, Emmanuel Cobbinah, and Hannah Lukasik.  Visit their profiles on our Graduate Students pages

We are recruiting for next fall.  Please see the ad on our home page and reach out to potential faculty advisors with questions.  We look forward to your application!

Have a great fall,

Alexandra Lutz, Ph.D., MBA
Director, GPHS / Division of Hydrologic Sciences, DRI