Catharine Cannan, Hydrogeologist

Education & Experience

2016-present: Staff Hydrogeologist, Wench, Fort Collins, CO

Summer 2015: Summer Internship at an environmental consulting firm, Lidstone and Associates (a Wenck Company), Fort Collins, CO

2014-2016: Masters Degree in Geological Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

2014: BA in Geological Sciences with Honors, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

2013-2015: Undergraduate and Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC


My research interests include groundwater- surface interactions with a focus on runoff response during rainfall, including contaminant transport. Currently, my research focuses on groundwater modeling of subsurface groundwater storage. In my free time I enjoy playing tennis and curling (yes, the sport with the brooms) or just enjoying time spent time outdoors.  

How I became a scientist

My science career began when I learned about the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, a pair of satellites which are capable of monitoring groundwater movement from space which triggered my interest in water resources. I began my studies in Environmental Science as I tried to identify what aspect of water resources I wanted to work with (quantity, quality, or policy) but eventually found myself in a great class on geological resources with a teacher who understood my interests. Through her I became involved with research in groundwater- surface interactions, after which I was hooked. As a graduate student I now focus on research that can impact local communities and find myself working with all three aspects water resources. I have also benefited from an opportunity to intern at an environmental consulting company and am planning on returning to the world of consulting upon graduation.  

How my research benefits society

The aim of my research is to help communities that are dependent on groundwater resources plan for sustainable growth while maximizing efficiency and lowering energy costs. Subsurface water storage can serve as a viable alternative to the current practice of storing water in surface reservoirs, where evaporation losses are high. While several communities currently practice some form of subsurface storage there is a great need to understand how injected water moves in more geologically complex areas. Additionally, a concern preventing more communities from adopting the practice stems from misunderstandings about the efficiency of recovering injected water. Our projects seek to answer these questions and determine if/where subsurface water storage can be of use.