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Scientist at Work: Bill Shuster

2012 November 17

EPA Scientist Bill ShusterAs a research hydrologist, EPA’s Dr. Bill Shuster conducts interdisciplinary studies that integrate elements of hydrology, soil science, ecology, economics, and law to develop stormwater and wastewater management techniques.

His current work involves the design and testing of “green infrastructure” approaches to urban stormwater management, exploring residential and neighborhood-based technologies such as rain gardens and rain barrels, and how they may impart sustainability through social equity, economic stabilization, and environmental quality.

How does your science matter?

We have a tremendous problem with wastewater management in this country. During wet-weather events, our older combined sewer systems tend to overflow, sending polluted septic flows into our nation’s rivers and streams.

My work matters because it is seeking solutions to that problem by helping us better understand what role green infrastructure—rain gardens, rain barrels, cisterns, urban soils in vacant lots, etc.—can play by absorbing and holding stormwater, reducing polluted runoff, and reduce sewer system overflows.

If you could have dinner with any scientist, past or present, who would it be and what would you like to ask them about?

I would have dinner with Linus Pauling Exit EPA Disclaimer or E.O. Wilson Exit EPA Disclaimer – I can’t decide. I would love to get some insight into how they take their ideas and frame them into research questions, as well as how they would each approach a research problem. I use the word “consilience” Exit EPA Disclaimer with some frequency, and so I tip my hat to E.O. Wilson, and his great book by the same name.

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Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. Tom Rothschild permalink
    November 17, 2012

    I am currently thinking hydrology would have been a better focus for my B.S. major than chemistry (U.T.Martin,1978). I find the field to be more active than my advisors said Chemistry would be. I was interested in knowing if you thought an increase of fresh water into the ocean would be a good influence. My projected theory is if more rainfall happened within our natural boundaries of mountain ranges, this should increase rainfall turning into snow as the clouds would not find their way over this barriers, and then to the ocean. This increased snow would trap greenhouse gases, besides providing more snowmelt. Is this what hydrology would help me interpret?

  2. Bill Shuster permalink
    November 20, 2012

    Good training in one of the natural science disciplines is definitely a plus. What you describe here is well within the purview of hydrology, especially as it intersects with meteorology. If you are interested in further researchering this area of endeavor, run searches on terms such as snow hydrology, mountain range hydrology and snowpack hydrology, hillslope hydrology, etc. These are areas in which there is a great deal of active research.

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