News & Events

Postdoc Spotlight: Soni Pradhanang

March 7, 2012

Since the day after defending her doctoral dissertation on watershed hydrology and modeling in 2009, Dr. Soni Pradhanang has been working as a Research Associate with the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities (ISC).

Working in the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) office in Kingston, New York, Dr. Pradhanang uses modeling applications to predict nutrient and sediment movement through the New York City watershed.  This research allows her to evaluate NYC watershed management practices and to develop further guidelines to ensure the protection of the ecosystem that provides our water.

Based on both objective water quality criteria and subjective watershed protection requirements, New York City’s water supply is one of the few major systems in the country that qualifies for Filtration Avoidance under the Surface Water Treatment Rule criteria established by the EPA. In order to maintain the current system, Dr. Pradhanang uses modeling applications for diagnostic analysis, and for collecting data that supports the development of further watershed protections.

Dr. Pradhanang also uses modeling applications to simulate the effects of proposed changes to watershed protection practices, and to simulate a variety of environmental and climate scenarios that might impact our water quality and quantity.  The modeling process results are used to meet long-term goals for water supply policy and protection, and to provide guidance for short-term operational strategies when unusual water quality events occur – like flooding.  These applications can even be used to predict the effects of long-term climate change and long-term population increases.

Dr. Pradhanang is affilaited with the ISC and the Department of Geography at Hunter College, where she works with her mentor, Dr. Allan Frei.  She routinely collaborates with organizations such as the NYCDEP, NASA, and Cornell University, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering.  In addition to her research at the ISC, Dr. Pradhanang is also working on hydrometeorological studies in her home country of Nepal.

Dr. Pradhanang earned her Ph.D. in Forest Ecosystem Science: Watershed Hydrology from the State of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry.  She also has two Master’s Degrees: one in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Forest Ecology and Management from Yale University, and a second in Environmental Pollution from Bangalore University, India.

Looking ahead, Dr. Pradhanang hopes to continue her research and return to teaching.  Her work has exposed her to cutting edge technology, excellent professional networks and broad-scale research.  She plans to bring these skills back to the classroom to educate the next generation of environmental scientists.