A native of Stillwater, Oklahoma, Laura Christianson knew that science and the outdoors were for her. “Growing up, I really liked science and was okay at math. I also had a big appreciation for natural resources from many years of family vacations in the Rocky Mountains and from helping with my family’s garden.” Laura explains.
“When I learned I could have a career involving all these interests by studying agricultural/biological engineering with an emphasis in soil and water conservation, I knew it was the right fit!”
Laura took her love of science and natural resources to the next level, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biosystems Engineering from Oklahoma State University, a Master of Science in Biological and Agricultural Engineering from Kansas State University and then a Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering and Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University.
Laura’s work experience has been mostly research-oriented. During her latest project, she studied woodchip bioreactors that help reduce the amount of nitrate leaving farmers’ fields in drainage water.
“I really liked this project because these bioreactors use a natural process to clean the water. Thinking about how to size woodchip bioreactors so they will remove as much nitrate as possible and still be cost effective gave me great experience with engineering design,” Laura says.
“I enjoy my work because I feel agriculture and water are two very important issues ... Figuring out how farmers can produce ample food while maintaining good environmental quality is a great challenge and a great opportunity!”
During her spare time Laura enjoys reading fiction books, playing violin and working out, joking that “I love to run on trails next to streams. Checking for indicators of stream health helps keep my mind off my burning legs!”
Laura is currently working as an independent agricultural engineering contractor on similar drainage water quality projects in Washington D.C.