Skip to main content


Rebecca B. Neumann

Faculty Photo

Associate Professor
Civil & Environmental Engineering


Becca leads the hydro-biogeochemistry research group in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at University of Washington. She joined UW in 2011. Prior to 2011, she was a NOAA Climate and Global Change postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University where she studied how plant roots and soil conditions modulate the amount of water moved through the landscape. She obtained her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a thesis project focused on understanding one of the major human health problems in Bangladesh: arsenic contaminated groundwater. Prior to graduate school, Becca worked as an environmental engineering consultant for EG&G Technical Services, and received her B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering and B.A. in Art and Art History from Rice University. Outside of work, Becca enjoys hiking, mountaineering and rock climbing with her husband and two kids.


  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • B.S., Rice University

Research Statement

The hydro-biogeochemistry research group is revealing how physical, chemical and biological factors interact in soils, aquifers and surface water to control chemical fate and transport. We aim to inform development of management and policy decisions that protect human and environmental health. Thus we tackle societally relevant topics, such as food and water quality and global climate change. Recognizing the complexity of environmental systems, we take a multifaceted approach. We harness knowledge and techniques from multiple disciplines, including hydrology, limnology, aquatic chemistry, soil science, plant ecophysiology, and microbial ecology, and we use a combination of observational, experimental and computational methods to examine processes that occur at multiple spatial scales. We work across the micro-meter scale of microbes, to the centimeter scale of plant roots, up to the kilometer scale of field sites.

Current projects

Source of organic carbon fueling arsenic mobilization in aquifers of South Asia

Arsenic mobilization, bioaccumulation and eco-toxicity in urban lakes Remediation of arsenic-contaminated groundwater

Rice field irrigation management to reduce arsenic exposure

Oxygen dynamics in the rice rhizosphere

Impact of soil warming and elevated atmospheric CO2 on arsenic availability to, and uptake by, rice plants

Methane Oxidation in the Rhizosphere of Wetland Plants

Harnessing stable carbon isotopes to estimate in situ rates of methane production and methane oxidation in natural wetlands

Measuring and modeling plant-mediated water flow process to improve ecosystem models

Honors & awards

  • Recipient of University of Washington’s Innovation Award, 2016
  • Recipient of Department of Energy’s Early Career Award, 2013
  • Recipient of NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2009
  • Recipient of National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2004