Storing and disposing radioactive waste is a complex challenge for even the most technologically advanced society. Radioactive waste accumulates over time, but there are only temporary storage options available; no truly long term option exists.

Dr. Gretchen Bohnhoff recognizes the serious issues with current storage solutions and is committed to researching the effects of imperfect radioactive waste storage on our environment.

Description of Research

With a bachelor’s and master’s degree in geological engineering and Ph.D. in civil engineering, Dr. Bohnhoff has spent years focusing her considerable academic expertise on the transport of radioactive ground water contaminates.

Recently, a grant from the National Science Foundation has enabled her to devote more time and resources to researching and understanding the transport properties of soil.

Real-time models of radioactive transport would need thousands of years to be accurate, but Dr. Bohnhoff’s lab test results, along with computer models, can provide important information without expending such long periods of time. 

With support from the NSF’s 3-year grant, five civil and environmental engineering juniors and seniors have been put to work on this research project along with Dr. Bohnhoff. The student researchers are running lab tests in the environmental engineering lab and the geotechnical engineering lab to help fill in the knowledge gap between theory and real-time movement of radioactive contaminants. Their results will eventually be used as input into models that will predict long-term behavior.

Join our Research Group

Dr. Bohnhoff's project provides an opportunity for students to build on prior knowledge and exercise new skills. It is also a place to apply what is learned within courses and to build academic experience, for graduate school or for future professional work. Courses provided in the civil and environmental engineering curricula are helpful for this research project, including geotechnical engineering and groundwater hydrology.

Undergraduate research, which happens every day in every department at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, is an excellent means of gaining knowledge and experience that can be applied both in other courses and further down the road. 

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