Sienna White

  • Program Year: 1
  • Academic Institution: University of California, Berkeley
  • Field of Study: Environmental Fluid Mechanics
  • Academic Advisor: Tina Chow
  • Practicum(s): Practicum Not Yet Completed
  • Degree(s):
    B.S. Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, 2019

Summary of Research

The increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires throughout the United States demonstrate a pressing need for reliable wildfire smoke forecasting tools. Numerical models simulating wildfire smoke transport can support real-time decision making during wildfire events and provide detailed historical exposure estimates for health studies. Modeling wildfire smoke, however, is a difficult exercise, and errors in turbulence, plume rise, injection height, etc. all contribute to over all model error.

My research focuses on utilizing data assimilation techniques to combine model results, satellite measurements, and air sensor network data in order to improve wildfire smoke model forecasts by providing a "best guess" estimate of wildfire smoke given all available data. These model forecasts will then be leveraged in health studies to help identify place-based mitigation strategies in order to reduce the effects of wildfire smoke on vulnerable communities. Throughout the course of my Ph.D., I also hope to work on improving the operational forecasting abilities of wildfire smoke models, resulting in better real-time forecasts for air quality agencies and impacted communities.


S.R. White, P. Mugunthan, A.T. King, F. Karimpour, T.E.C. Kraus, E.B. Stumpner, B.A. Bergamaschi, D.B. Senn. "Delta-Suisun Biogeochemical Model: Calibration and Validation (WY2016, WY2011)." San Francisco Estuary Institute. Richmond, CA. September 2021.

S.R. White, A. King, F. Karimpour, P. Mugunthan, D. Senn. "Nutrients in the Northern San Francisco Estuary: Transport, Cycling, and Forecasted Changes after Nutrient Load Reductions." San Francisco Estuary Institute. Richmond, CA. March 2021.

F. Karimpour, S.R. White, A. King, P. Mugunthan, D. Senn. "Delta Biogeochemical Model Water Year 2016: Progress Update." San Francisco Estuary Institute. Richmond, CA. December 2019.

S.R. White, A. Blom, "Quantifying sediment transport and associated bed elevation change over the fixed layers at Nijmegen and St. Andries," in Netherland Centre for River Studies 2020, Nijmegen, the Netherlands, Feb 2020.

S.R. White, O.B. Fringer, "Using D-Water Quality and D-Flow FM to model cohesive sediment transport in San Francisco Bay," in Delta Science and Software Days 2019, Deltares, Delft, the Netherlands, Nov 2019.

S.R. White, O.B. Fringer, "Estimating a Sediment Budget in South San Francisco Bay from limited streamflow data," in Ocean Sciences 2018, Portland, Oregon, USA, Jan 2018.


Berkeley Fellowship, 2021. Two-year fellowship for top incoming PhD students.

Firestone Medal, 2019. Given to top 10% of honors theses at Stanford.

Fulbright Fellowship, 2019-2020. Flood Management-NAF Fulbright Fellow.

1st place, Creative Nonfiction Prize 2017. Stanford's annual award for best creative nonfiction essay written that year.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, 2017 & 2018.

Human Cities Urban Innovation Contest Finalist, 2016. Declared a finalist (top 5) for an idea linking water-sustainable cap + trade rate structuring to community microgrants.