Benoit Lab


Gaboury Benoit


My research involves two areas of environmental chemistry: (1) water quality in urbanizing watersheds, and (2) trace metal cycling and speciation.  The first topic often uses continuous monitoring of parameters like discharge, turbidity, dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature to understand the mass balance and timing of the fluxes of other more esoteric substances.  In the second category, I’m especially interested in how speciation may influence bioavailability thereby causing metals like Cu and Co to act as limiting micronutrients

In my spare time, I’m a dedicated cook and an avid runner and have climbed nearly all of the high peaks in New England and New York.  I’m also hoping to fulfill a lifelong dream and am planning a bicycle trip across North America in summer 2015.

Jeff Ye

Jeff Ye
I am currently a visiting scientist in the Benoit lab.  My research fields include (1) control of urban nonpoint source pollution, (2) domestic wastewater treatment in rural areas, and (3) raw waste water quality control. The first research field mainly focuses on control of pollution caused by discharge from pumping stations in urban areas, reduction and reuse of stormwater runoff in urban areas, design of green infrastructure, and low-impact development. The second concentrates on the nature and remediation of clogging mechanisms of constructed wetlands as well as transfer and conversion of pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus in these systems. The third is mainly concerned with the integration of physical and ecological technologies for raw water quality control, with an emphasis on the quick removal of cyanobacteria via microbubble flotation for algal blooms in open water bodies.

In my spare time, I enjoy playing soccer, jogging, and travelling.

Sara Demars

Sara Demars

My research consists of measurement and modeling of acid neutralizing capacity in urban stormwater runoff and its use in the study of stormwater pollutants like hexavalent chromium in the New Haven area and Quinnipiac River watershed.  My focus is concrete surfaces and building materials, which are a source of acid neutralizing capacity and hexavalent chromium in the built environment.  I am also working to evaluate the release of toxic organics and heavy metals from crumb rubber, which is used to build synthetic athletic fields and playgrounds.

In my free time I enjoy swimming and cooking.

Zheming Xuan


Copper speciation controls the bioavailability and toxicity of copper, which influences a variety of important functions in biogeochemical processes, including carbon cycling, nitrogen cycling, and other aspects of ecosystem dynamics in aquatic environment.

My research interest focuses on the potential role of copper speciation in the interaction between algae growth and nitrogen cycling in stormwater ponds/lakes, which receive stormwater runoff from urbanizing watersheds. The current work is to investigate the linkage between copper speciation and variations in water quality characteristics, such as pH, temperature, turbidity, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) level in fresh waters. I am also interested in the ecohydrological applications of GIS and remote sensing with the special focus on the impact of land use/land cover (LULC) on surface hydrology, vegetation and microclimate in urbanizing watersheds.

Taylor Ganz

Taylor Ganz
My research focuses on watershed conservation in the American West. I am especially interested in how river restoration and headwater stream conservation can be used as strategies for water resource management, both in terms of water quality and water quantity.

Before coming to Yale I was a senior field instructor at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). I also worked as a researcher studying the impacts of recreation on wildlife in the Rocky Mountains and taught at California State University, Northridge. I am a fly-fisher, rock-climber and wilderness enthusiast.

Leana Weissberg

Leana Weissberg

I am interested in ways in which water interacts with biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems, especially in the American West.  My research at the Yale Experimental Watershed will compare the accuracy and feasibility of micrometeorological, hydrological, vegetative, and physical measurements of evapotranspiration.  ET is a critical part of the hydrologic cycle, and perhaps the hardest process to measure reliably.  In order to produce an accurate measurement, I will also attempt to delineate the groundwater watershed at the YEW.  Before coming to F&ES, I worked as a land consultant in the California desert, assisting local land trusts and the US Department of Interior to acquire and manage conservation lands.
In my free time I enjoy running, swimming (especially in alpine lakes), and baking. 

Kevin Dahms

Kevin Dahms
I am interested in utilizing engineered natural systems such as rain gardens, constructed wetlands, and living shorelines to improve water quality and mitigate the risks associated with flooding and storm surges. My research focuses on studying six bioswales, or rain gardens, in the New Haven area and analyzing their effectiveness in reducing peak flows and removing pollutants associated urban stormwater runoff. We will evaluate what influence certain bioswale design parameters, specifically size and soil carbon content, have on the scale of the water quantity and quality benefits provided by the green infrastructure.
Prior to F&ES, I was an engineer with the Office of Green Infrastructure in New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection. In my free time I enjoy playing hockey, running, hiking, and being outdoors as much as possible.

Recent Graduates

Beata Fiszer

Beata Fiszer
As a five-year MEM student, I am studying water quality. My interests are in improving water quality in urban areas via green infrastructure and environmental restoration. I will be assisting with the New Haven Green Infrastructure Project, through which we are examining the effectiveness of bioswales in capturing and filtering New Haven storm water runoff.

I spent this past year on a fellowship in Sitka as a GIS Analyst for the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, mapping data to help reduce bycatch. A few passions of mine include trail running, hiking, and reading non-fiction about strong female figures.

Alonso Portal

Alonso Portal

I am a Mid-Career MEM student with prior experience working on water quality baselines and environmental impact assessments for the mining sector in Peru. I have interest in the short term behavior of water quality parameters and the representativeness of sampling data; and also on the economic value of environmental services related to water and the overall interactions between environmental quality, economics and social science and how this relationships contribute to sustainable development.

Kelsey Semrod


As an MESc student, my research interests lie in understanding contaminant fluxes in urban watersheds and assessing the degree to which green infrastructure improves water quality and quantity in urban systems.

My work in the Yale Experimental Watershed is focused on (1) assessment of hydrologic parameters such as well water depth, precipitation, discharge, and evapotranspiration to create a water budget, and (2) analysis of heavy metal contamination in soils and sediments.  My thesis research is focusing on water quality and hydrologic analysis of two sewersheds in New Haven before and after bioswale, or rain garden, implementation.  The goal is to determine the effectiveness of green infrastructure in reducing peak flows and in removing pollutant loads associated with stormwater runoff.

Prior to FES, I was a Field Instructor for the Voyageur Outward Bound School in Ely, Minnesota.  In my free time, I like to get outside as much as possible and enjoy paddling, hiking, and playing tennis.

Uma Bhandaram


My interests lie at the intersection of watershed management and land-use planning. I began a fellowship in Spring 2014 with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the US Forest Service, and Hixon Center for Urban Ecology.  My work for the fellowship researches how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to find the best green infrastructure locations to improve water quality and provide stormwater management, specifically within the Alley Creek watershed in Queens, New York City.  The secondary goal of the research is to see how this work can be applied beyond Queens to the rest of New York City.  Within the Benoit lab, my work focuses on characterizing and understanding the ecosystem services and the urban ecology of the Yale Experimental Watershed (YEW). 

Outside of school, I spend my time exploring New Haven and New England by going on hikes, visiting museums, and wandering around until my feet get tired.  I enjoy cooking, playing tennis, and reading.

Selena Pang


My work focuses on the integration of science, design and education. I am an MESc student and Hixon Center for Urban Ecology 2014-15 research fellow, advised by Gabe Benoit and Alex Felson.

I am currently conducting research at a public green space in the nearby coastal city of Bridgeport, CT. My first goal is to manipulate a set of experimental rain gardens, and investigate the way infiltration rates are influenced by soil composition and plants (vs. no plants). The second goal is to determine how rain gardens interact with groundwater in a coastal setting. A third, related goal is to understand how a scientific research plot nested within a community park functions as an educational tool, as well as a catalyst for community action.  My professional aim is to further the field of urban environmental management, especially through the incorporation of scientific research into landscape design.

Share this page: