The beginning of the year is an excellent time to look back over the past year, pick out something that you wanted to do, and make a resolution to do better in the coming year. Below are 7 resolutions members of the Rosenberg research group have offered to improve our water resources modeling and management work in 2018.
- Read more literature (Jim Stagge). Reading and staying abreast of developments in the water resources field is extremely important. It’s also a key step of all water resources planning and modeling efforts — review relevant work and prior attempts to solve similar problems. Last year, Jim resolved to read a #PaperADay but the resolution somehow did not stick. Maybe because reading 365 papers would only make a small dent in the 2,100+ papers published in 2017 by popular water resources journals (Table 1). Further, Jim kept putting papers into his To Read folder, but never taking them out to read. His reading system was out of balance. This year, Jim resolves to set aside a day and time each week to read a few papers in his To Read folder.
Table 1. Papers published in 2017 (Scopus, 2018)
2. Allow more time to understand water resources material before diving into it (Hadia Akbar). Being new to the research group in 2017 and wanting to quickly get up to speed on water resources models and analysis methods, Hadia often found herself immersed in material but understanding it poorly because she had dived in too fast. This is a common pressure on water resources modelers: clients, stakeholders, and professors want results fast! In 2018, Hadia resolves to place more realistic expectations on herself and allow more time to first understand a model before starting to work with the model.
3. Write more clearly (Adel Abdallah). Writing and communicating clearly to diverse audiences is an essential part of water resources modeling work. In 2017, Adel spent numerous weeks and months repeatedly revising a dissertation proposal, documentation, and his first paper to make each more clear. Generally, his process was to receive feedback from colleagues or his major professor, quickly revise, and immediately send it back. In 2018, Adel resolves to write and then take a step back and first read what he has written before sending the writing onward. 2018 is off to a promising start with this clear, succinct New Year’s resolution to write more clearly and a draft of a dissertation chapter circulated among colleagues for feedback.
4. Identify unsupervised machine learning methods to disaggregate water demands (Nour Atallah). These machine learning methods have been used to disaggregate residential water demand time-series collected at very high frequency (such as every 5 seconds) into component end-uses of water. But which algorithms will be most appropriate for the non-residential customers Nour is working with for his MS thesis? Will a method require modifications? Nour was similarly confronted with these problems in 2017. In 2018, Nour resolves to figure the way to proceed so he can complete his MS thesis and graduate.
5. Be more realistic about the time it takes to run a new model scenario (David Rosenberg). The joy and allure of modeling is that one need only make a few small modifications to the model inputs to create a new scenario. Then quickly run the scenario to generate results and offer new insight to the problem at hand. In reality, assembling the new input data can take time, the model may not accept the new inputs, or the model gives spurious results for unanticipated reasons. Tracking down all these things can take time. As does, once the new scenario is debugged, to organize, interpret, and present the results so they can be compared to prior scenarios. In 2017, David was quick to ask students to try more scenarios that pushed results further but took lots of time to see through. In 2018, David resolves to be more cognizant of the time it will take to set up and run a new modeling scenario.
6. Teach myself software like Autocad (Ryan James). Learning new software, models, and techniques is also key to staying current in the water resources field. Learning new software also improves job prospects after graduation. But learning a new software requires time to sit down and use the software or model, preferably on a problem of interest. In 2018, Ryan resolves to set aside time to learn a new software tool.
7. Give the Utah and Western Water Blog a bit more love (David Rosenberg). We launched the blog in Fall 2016 to share our research group’s water resources work with a broader audience and to discuss the craft of water management, modeling, practice that rarely makes it into journal articles. Then in 2017, we only had a single post by Ayman Alafifi in January on how to measure the success of river restoration projects. We need more activity to fulfill the blog’s purpose! In 2018, David resolves to give a bit more attention to the blog. We are already on track for this resolution as this post is the 3rd post for 2018 and each member of the research group has additionally resolved to contribute one more post during the Spring 2018 semester.
Will these resolutions help you in your work? What is your water resources related resolution for 2018? We look forward to see your reply in the comments section below.