CEE Update Alumni Spotlights: Dr. Danielle Wain



Danielle Wain
Danielle Wain

by Jeannette L. Little

When Danielle Wain came to Cornell in 1995 to receive a bachelor’s degree, she knew she wanted to apply her math and science skills to help the environment. Choosing a major in Civil Engineering and a minor in Geological Sciences, taking a course in fluid mechanics and holding an undergraduate research position in Geology, helped to determine her future career.

After graduation, Dr. Wain spent two years in the Peace Corps as a Water Engineer building aqueducts in rural communities in the Dominican Republic with local partners. After working in environmental consulting, she returned to school and received an M.S. from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from Iowa State University, both in Civil Engineering with a focus on hydrodynamics of lakes and reservoirs. She then held two postdoctoral positions in physical oceanography at the University of Washington and the National University of Ireland Galway. The latter led to a faculty position in water quality engineering at the University of Bath in the U.K. Looking to move back home to the U.S., Wain now lives and works in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, where she is a Lake Science Director for 7 Lake Alliance, a non-profit watershed organization.

Wain reaches out to local stakeholders to develop research that supports science-driven management of the water quality within the watershed. “In my current position, I get the opportunity to apply academic research to real world lake and reservoir management.” 

Professor Todd Cowen’s course, CEE 655 —Transport, Mixing, and Transformation in the Environment, has played a major role throughout Wain’s career. Wain recalls, “putting fluorescent dye in Cascadilla Creek during one of Professor Cowen’s classes of CEE 655, was one of those most memorable moments, and my career has revolved around environmental flows since!” 7 Lake Alliance partners with Colby College to “collect and maintain an extensive water quality monitoring dataset,” Wain said.

“We use this data to understand the threat of blue-green algae blooms and the toxins they produce, and to determine mitigation strategies to prevent future blooms as climate change leads to warmer summers and more nutrient runoff from precipitation.”

Wain is grateful for her CEE education and the path her career has taken. “My time at Cornell introduced me to a whole side of engineering that I didn’t know existed when I first enrolled and gave me the skillset to move across a variety of environmental fields.”