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Victoria Ly

April 5, 2018

photo of Victoria Ly

Victoria Ly
Ph.D. student, first year
Hydrology and Hydrodynamics

Please describe your research 
Globally, one-fifth of the population relies on snow- or glacier-melt water supply. My research focuses on how to better estimate and quantify snowpack in mountainous areas to determine how much water will come from snowmelt. I’m interested in developing and applying remote sensing technology, modeling, and advanced computation methods to address water management and planning issues, particularly in under-resourced areas and communities.

Do you conduct field work and/or travel as part of your research?
Currently, I’m working on a project to map the limitations/uncertainty of remote sensing sensors and products globally. From there, I hope to be able to narrow down where I’d like to conduct my field work. 

I would like to continue doing work in the Southwestern U.S. (Navajo Nation), and work internationally in Chile or Switzerland. Or another snowy mountain range!

photo of Victoria Ly taking snow depth measurements with three othersAttending snow school, Victoria Ly takes snow depth measurements using a magnaprobe in the Fraser Experimental Forest, CO.

What do you enjoy most about your field of study?
I think water is one of the most dynamic things to study as a scientist and engineer. Snow is particularly fascinating, because of the many forms it takes, the tools/methods we can use to measure and understand it, and the implications that water management has on energy, agriculture and livelihoods. Also, who can deny its magical glimmer! Hydrology feels like a big picture to me - we are just zooming into one piece of the picture at a time to be able to construct a more comprehensive understanding.

What type of career do you plan to pursue?
I aspire to be a research scientist/engineer that involves both, developing new technologies and methods and working with people and communities in improving water systems.

How did you first become interested in engineering?
My path to engineering wasn't very linear. I originally wanted to be a wildlife ecologist. But, as I was studying zoology, it became clear that I was more interested in landscape-scaled processes than just the organisms themselves. Toward the end of my undergrad, I was using remote sensing as a tool to map changes in species distribution associated with climate change. As I became interested in both natural and built environments, remote sensing was a transferrable tool across disciplines and I began using satellite remote sensing to study drought. My interests in mapping where there was little water led to questions of “Where is water?” and “How do we manage the resources that we have?”

How do you spend your spare time?
I enjoy swimming, surfing, team sports, practicing photography and watercolor painting.

Any other interesting/relevant details?
I see a lot inspiration and intersections of art and science, especially when it comes to something as visual as remote sensing. I’m hoping to be able to give room for these two worlds to collide in my research and beyond.