IMPACT Award winner and grad sees water management as a major issue

By

Erik Wirtanen

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2019 commencement.

Olga Hart’s journey to a doctoral degree started as an undergraduate civil engineering major in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

In her time as an undergraduate at ASU, Hart was a Research Experiences for Undergraduates student researcher with the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) project, interned at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and worked for ASU’s Sustainability Solutions Extension Service.

“That initial experience with CAP LTER put me on the path to hydrology, research, graduate school and numerical modeling,” Hart said. “I can’t say enough good things about undergraduate research opportunities, or about my first research mentors, Drs. Laura Turnbull, Steven Earl and Dan Childers. They set me up to succeed in graduate school and be able to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by my research advisor and mentor, Dr. Rolf Halden.”

Hart views water management as a major issue that needs to be addressed to help secure a sustainable future and this has guided her doctoral research.

“If I were to dream up a big reach goal for water resources engineers in my lifetime, it would be to balance the water cycle,” Hart said, “so we can avoid ‘wasting’ water on floods at the same time as other parts of the world are suffering from drought, and vice versa.”

Hart, who has a professional engineer license in civil engineering, currently works for the Arizona Department of Water Resources in the groundwater modeling section and plans to continue after graduation.

“I plan to continue modeling environmental resource problems, helping us understand and better allocate these finite resources,” Hart said. “Modeling has played such a large role in my academic and professional work. I would love to be part of a push at ASU to the introduction of numerical modeling into the undergraduate curriculum.” 

Outside of her plans to continue working with the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Hart would love to provide a safe place for animals.

“I would like to run a sanctuary for short and round animals with my husband, a fellow ASU engineering PhD and soon-to-be alum,” Hart said about her plans to help donkeys with her husband, Steven.

She encourages those still in school to not lose sight of their future after graduation.

“For better or for worse, school ends and the rest of your life begins,” she said, “so try to see the school portion accordingly.”

Hometown: St. Petersburg, Russia, and Phoenix, Arizona

Olga's favorites:

Hobbies: Being outside, hiking/backpacking, drawing
Movie: City of Lost Children
Performer: Leonard Cohen
Book: The Monkey Wrench Gang
Geeky possession: A drawing of Albert Einstein from 1983

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ fall 2019 class here.