Life as we know it depends heavily on the ready availability of clean water. As global populations expand and more and more by-products of human activity enter the world’s water systems, ensuring a clean water supply is an increasingly complex task. In California’s semi-arid Central Valley – one of the world’s most prolific agricultural regions and the fastest-growing part of the state – water quality and supply are especially critical issues.
Conklin specializes in the study of water quality, water movement and the interaction of surface water and groundwater in natural settings. She has conducted extensive research in the field of organic chemical distribution in soil and groundwater and, especially important in California, the chemical processes in snow, which provides a significant portion of the state’s drinking and irrigation supply. Her interests include not just how water moves and behaves, but also how long it takes to move from one area to another.
In addition to her university teaching and research load, Conklin enjoys working with school children at the K-12 level to help them understand their natural environment and how to maintain and protect it for future generations. She is active in an organization called GLOBE for this purpose.
Conklin earned a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.S. and a Ph. D. from the California Institute of Technology. She joined UC Merced in 2003. Previously, she spent 16 years teaching and conducting research in the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona.
“It's vital to educate the next generation about the environment and encourage them to go into science and engineering. We will need well educated and creative scientists to find solutions for water problems in the future.”