Outstanding Grad Simms interests converge in Watershed Science

Bradley Simms academic interests began as a trickle as he left high school. Eventually, his path picked up steam like spring runoff rolling down the mountain when he enrolled in Warner College’s Watershed Science major. Outstanding grad Bradley Simms in Iceland holding pickax in dramatic fashion

Simms, a first-generation college student, spent ample amounts of time fishing and camping as a youngster at his family’s favorite spots in Wisconsin. These vacations and a visit to Yosemite National Park instilled a love of the outdoors and environment, but he wasn’t entirely sure what to do with his education. “As a first-generation student, I guess I didn’t have a whole lot of guidance as far as applying to college,” Simms explained. “But, I was a math and science guy, so I ended up at Kansas doing engineering.”

Finding his fit

Simms reflected on the experience not being the best fit. Many of the other students were ‘big gearheads’ and constantly taking apart car engines whereas he’d never even owned one. He took some time off, worked, and ended up moving to Fort Collins to live with a friend who needed a roommate. His love of the outdoors grew, and he’s been ticking off 14ers, climbing, and fishing avidly – anything to get outside. Landing in Fort Collins also led him to Colorado State University.

“I’d grown up a lot in that time and realized I wanted to do something related to the environment and sustainability.” After a watershed science course with faculty Stephanie Kampf and Ed Hall, he knew he was off and running.

Keeping busy and gaining applied experience

Since joining watershed science, Simms has: gone on a study abroad course to Iceland; done undergraduate research on small scale snow physics with Professor Steven Fassnacht which will result in a journal publication; interned with a groundwater consulting firm on a project in the San Luis Valley; volunteered doing stream restoration with Wildland Restoration Volunteers; and is currently interning with the ColoradoView project helping program an algorithm to assist with filling in data on LandSat images taken on cloudy days. ColoradoView aims to use high-resolution imagery and maps to plot out water stress impacts on plant production throughout Colorado.

outstanding graduate Bradley Simms in a snow pit“By the end of his first semester working with us on research, he had completely taken the project over and made it his own,” Fassnacht. “He’s been working hard on the analysis on top of a full course load and won the Best Undergraduate award at 2019’s AGU Hydrology Days Conference.” A true testament to his outstanding (and busy) undergraduate career.

All of these experiences have helped him find a passion for applied research, and he’ll begin pursing a master’s degree in hydrologic sciences at UC Davis this fall. “I’ve really enjoyed the environment in Warner,” he said. “Everyone is so passionate, and the faculty are amazing at helping you find your own way. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”