Daniella Rempe Honored for Early Career Contributions to Science and Education

Selfie photo of Daniealla in a snowy forest.
Daniella Rempe.

Daniella Rempe, an associate professor at The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, has received the American Geophysical Union’s Early Career Award in Hydrologic Sciences.

The award recognizes outstanding contributions to hydrology through research, education and societal impacts. It will be formally conferred at AGU’s Fall Meeting, the world’s largest gathering of Earth scientists.

Rempe is a faculty member at the Jackson School’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, where she studies groundwater and soil moisture and its relationship to drought and climate change. She said that the award was validation for her work and the work of those she’s collaborated with.

“An award like this is not just about me, it represents a lot of people and a lot of effort and that’s what we’re all celebrating,” she said.

Jackson School Professor Bayani Cardenas, who nominated Rempe, said that she is a highly sought-after researcher with a knack for getting field measurements in difficult places.

“She’s also a dedicated teacher who’s instituted changes to our teaching that are impressive for anyone, let alone someone at such an early career stage,” he said.

Rempe has developed novel research techniques to measure moisture and gases in deep bedrock. Her work is especially relevant to studying the critical zone — the part of the natural world where life flourishes, and usually defined as the bottom of groundwater to the top of tree canopies.

Notable findings from Rempe include the discovery that trees widely use bedrock moisture as a water reserve, which can help sustain them during drought, and taking some of the first carbon dioxide measurements from within forest bedrock. This research found that nearly a third of CO2 released by forests comes from microbes in rock fractures far beneath the soil.

Kamini Singha, associate dean at the Colorado School of Mines, said that Rempe has excelled at exploring important overlooked spaces between scientific disciplines: in this case, geology, hydrology and ecology.

“Daniella is fluent in many ‘languages of science’ and can speak across disciplines in geology, hydrology, geophysics and plant physiology,” said Singha, who supported both Rempe’s award nomination and recent promotion to tenured associate professor. “I find her to be a really remarkable human, someone who has great ideas, is really selfless with her time and is a really good mentor of students.”

Photo showing grassy and wooded hills. Daniella is at a distance in the bottom right posing for the picture.
Daniella Rempe, associate professor at the Jackson School of Geosciences, at a northern California field site during research on multi-year drought. Credit: David Dralle, US Forest Service

Rempe has a bachelor’s degree in geosystems engineering and hydrogeology from the Jackson School and a master’s degree in environmental engineering and doctoral degree in Earth and planetary science from University of California, Berkeley.

Rempe joined the Jackson School faculty in 2016 as an assistant professor and has since led a major initiative to modernize the school’s hydrologic sciences degree programs. She was recently named department associate chair and now directs the Water, Climate and Environment program.

Recently, Rempe has turned her attention to improving research opportunities at the Jackson School. She led the installation of research and education infrastructure at the Jackson School’s White Family Outdoor Learning Center, and revamped the school’s hydro field camp to teach students how to use advanced computational tools alongside more traditional field measurements.

“Solving big problems with big data is becoming a standard skillset.” Rempe said. “We want to prepare all our students for that future, that feels necessary to me.”

For more information, contact: Anton Caputo, Jackson School of Geosciences, 210-602-2085;  Monica Kortsha, Jackson School of Geosciences, 512-471-2241; Constantino Panagopulos, University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, 512-574-7376.