Dr. Alison W. Watts

 Dr. Alison Watts

 

Dr. Alison W. Watts

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

248 Gregg Hall
Durham, NH 03824

T: 603 862 0585
F: 603 862 3957

alison.watts@unh.edu

 

 

 

 

 

On this Page

 

Overview

 

Publications

 

Education

 

Appointments

 

Licenses

 

Full Resume (pdf)

 

 

 

 

Related Departments

 

UNH Stormwater Center

 

Environmental Research Group

 

Civil Engineering

 

 

 

 

 

Overview

Dr. Watts is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of New Hampshire, Environmental Research Group, working on research projects at the UNH Stormwater Center, contaminant transport, and integrated watershed management.  Dr. Watts’s main research interest include working with municipal and watershed organizations to develop adaptive management strategies for water resources threatened by land use and climate change.

Coal tar based sealcoat as a source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the environment. Stormwater runoff, surface dust, adjacent surface soil and air concentrations were sampled to determine if the use of coal tar based sealant, a common pavement treatment, leads to elevated PAH concentrations. This study found a significant increase in PAH concentration in all media associated with a coal tar sealed parking lot. Results from this work have been incorporated into outreach materials for homeowner education, and legislative action.

Multivariate Exploration of Removal Efficiencies and Storm Characteristics.  The UNHSC collects stormwater samples for chemical analyses, and water quality parameters. Detailed multivariate statistics are used to examine relationships between variables, including storm characteristics, site parameters, co-occurring contaminants, and stormwater system performance.

Current projects

Environmental DNA
Environmental DNA (eDNA), or DNA present in an environmental sample, is emerging as a powerful tool to detect species present in an ecosystem without having to actually capture and identify individual organisms. Fish, invertebrates, and other animals shed DNA through fragments of tissue, reproductive and waste products into the environment they live in.  Researchers can identify which species are present by extracting and analyzing the DNA in water or sediment samples. We are currently developing eDNA applications in several areas:

Developing DNA Methods to Monitor Invasive Species and Biodiversity in Estuaries
The project team will design and implement a pilot eDNA program at several National Estuarine Research Reserve sites. Scientists and staff from Great Bay, South Slough, and Wells Reserves will work with researchers at the University of New Hampshire and a technical advisory team to develop eDNA sample collection and analysis protocols. The group will engage local natural resource managers, stakeholders, and end users to identify a list of estuarine species to target using eDNA methods, and eDNA sampling will be conducted in coordination with existing traditional monitoring programs to allow direct comparison and verification between methods.   Funded by the NERRS Science Collaborative

Monitoring American Eel in NH streams
This project will design and implement a pilot eDNA monitoring program in N.H. streams and estuaries. Anadromous fish travel from the oceans to New England mountain streams, but their movements are increasingly restricted by tidal crossings such as dams, bridges, or culverts. Understanding how crossings impact species movement and diversity is a crucial element to effectively mitigating and restoring habitat while supporting societal needs for roads and other development. We will develop protocols and recommendations for the appropriate use of eDNA as a monitoring tool for American eel, with potential application to other estuarine fish.    Funded by NH Sea Grant

Water Resources

What Is Our Water Worth and What Does Our Water Cost

We are working with NH Lives on Water, a public-private partnership, to evaluate the value and cost of water resources and associated infrastructure in NH. 

Coal tar based sealcoat as a source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the environment. Stormwater runoff, surface dust, adjacent surface soil and air concentrations were sampled to determine if the use of coal tar based sealant, a common pavement treatment, leads to elevated PAH concentrations. This study found a significant increase in PAH concentration in all media associated with a coal tar sealed parking lot. Results from this work have been incorporated into outreach materials for homeowner education, and legislative action.


Publications

New Hampshire Lives on Water.  Final report of the New Hampshire Water Sustainability Commission.  http://www.nh.gov/water-sustainability/publications/index.htm. December, 2012.

Subsurface Gravel Wetlands for Stormwater Management. Gunderson, J., Roseen R.M., Ballestero, T.P., Watts, A.W., Houle, J., and Farah K., Stormwater, 13:  8-17. 2012.

Coal-Tar-Based Pavement Sealcoat and PAHs: Implications for the Environment, Human Health, and Stormwater Management. Mahler, B.J., P.C. Van Metre, J. Crane, A.W. Watts, M.  Scoggins, E.S. Williams. Environmental Science and Technology. 46: 3039–3045. 2012.

Examination of Thermal Impacts From Stormwater Best Management Practices. Roseen, R.M., DiGennaro, N., Watts A.W., Ballestero, T.P., Houle, J., and T. Puls.  Final Project report US EPA Region 1, TMDL Program, UNHSC, Durham, NH. 2011

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in stormwater runoff from sealcoated pavements. Watts A. W., T. P. Ballestero, R.R. Roseen, J.H. Houle. Environmental Science and Technology. 44: 8849–8854. 2010.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Released From Sealcoated Parking Lots – A Controlled Field Experiment to Determine if Sealcoat is a Significant Source of PAHs In The Environment. Final Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency GLNPO-4-17.  The University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center, Watts, A., Ballestero, T., Houle, J., Puls, T., and S. Mitchell. December 2010.

Final Report of the Commission to Study the Causes, Effects, and Remediation of Siltation in the Great Bay Estuary  (HB 216, Chapter 31:1, Laws of 2007). May 2010.

Uptake of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in salt marsh plants Spartina alterniflora grown in contaminated sediments.  Watts A. W., T. P. Ballestero, and K. H. Gardner.  Chemosphere 62; 1253-1260. 2006.

Soil and Atmospheric Inputs to PAH Concentrations in Salt Marsh Plants. Watts A. W., T. P. Ballestero, K. H. Gardner.  Water, Air, & Soil Pollution. 189:253-263. 2008.

 

Education

Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, University of New Hampshire, 2006               

M.S. in Geology, Arizona State University, 1992               

B.A. in Planetary Science, Mount Holyoke College, 1984                  

 

Appointments

Research Assistant Professor, University of New Hampshire, Department of Civil Engineering, Fall 2009-present 

Affiliate Faculty, University of New Hampshire, Environmental Engineering Group, 2006-2009

Post Doctoral Scholar, University of New Hampshire, Environmental Engineering Group, 2006-2007

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, PhD program, University of New Hampshire, 2004-2006

Project Geologist, Weiss Associates, Emeryville, California, 1992–2000

Geologist, Alton Geoscience, Pleasanton, California, 1990–1992

Licenses

New Hampshire Professional Geologist

California Registered Geologist

California Certified Hydrogeologist