Tinoco wins NSF CAREER award

4/16/2018 1:01:01 PM

By Celeste Arbogast

CEE Assistant Professor Rafael O. Tinoco has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award to study and quantify the effects of aquatic ecosystems in gas transfer processes in natural waters, from the water-sediment interface to the water surface.

“Understanding such processes, from substrate to surface, will allow us to develop process-based models for management and restoration of wetlands, estuaries and vegetated coastal areas,” Tinoco said. “Our findings will also help in the modeling of global greenhouse gases changes in natural waters.”

The award will allow Tinoco's group to conduct an ambitious experimental series, using acoustic sensors and high-speed cameras to implement state of the art hydroacoustics and quantitative imaging techniques at multiple scales. The unique laboratory facilities on campus, including the Large Oscillatory Water-Sediment Tunnel at the Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory, one of the largest of its kind in the world, and the Large Ecohydraulics Racetrack Flume at the new Ecohydraulics and Ecomorphodynamics Laboratory at CEE’s Rantoul, Ill., facility, will allow the team to reproduce and study realistic scenarios representative of both rivers and coastal areas.

Administered under the Faculty Early Career Development Program, CAREER awards are the NSF’s most prestigious form of support and recognition for junior faculty who “exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.”

Tinoco joined the faculty in CEE at Illinois in 2015. His research focuses on the interactions between hydrodynamics and aquatic ecosystems. His research group employs state of the art experimental techniques coupled with high-resolution numerical modeling to solve fundamental questions about physical and biological processes on Ecohydraulics and Ecomorphodynamics.

“Understanding such complex phenomena allow us to develop solutions to environmental problems, such as stream restoration and coastal protection, with the objective to maximize both ecosystem health and the services provided by those ecosystems,” he said.