Making meaningful connections with students is a vital part of the job for Bridget Wadzuk—and it's not limited to those enrolled in her courses.
When Bridget Gile ’19 first expressed an interest in the professor’s area of expertise, Dr. Wadzuk met with the curious freshman to explain her work and research in water resources. That conversation marked the beginning of a fruitful mentorship and the first of many deep and impactful discussions between Dr. Wadzuk and Bridget.
Bridget’s initial curiosity grew as she worked alongside Dr. Wadzuk and became a regular fixture in the Villanova Center for Resilient Water Systems. Dr. Wadzuk’s enthusiasm for water resources sustainability is palpable—and contagious—as is her commitment to working with students, guiding them to seek answers to problems that will impact both the local and global community.
“What I like about the work is there’s such a real application,” says Dr. Wadzuk. “We’ve been dedicated to looking at innovative stormwater solutions. We have large rainfall events and a lot of flooding—how can we mitigate those in the best way possible? How do we understand, respect and use the environment in an appropriate way? Our group is on the leading edge of this.”
In the lab, Dr. Wadzuk and Bridget examined the hydrologic and hydraulic processes of stormwater green infrastructure, and by Bridget’s junior year they were collaborating closely on a project looking at water flow behavior through the campus’s constructed wetland.
“Because I knew what her interests were and the nature of her curiosity, we came together to build a research project in her junior year that fit within the spoke of where she was looking longer term,” Dr. Wadzuk says. From there, she supported Bridget in winning a Fulbright grant to the Netherlands, which she ultimately declined in order to pursue a fully funded PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar.
While excited for the scientific advancements she and her research partners are making at Villanova, it’s inspiring the next generation of civil engineers that truly makes Dr. Wadzuk feel like a success. “When I can offer advice, perspective, support, encouragement—whatever it is to the student—that is why I do my job.”
Dr. Wadzuk’s research team calls Villanova’s campus their laboratory—and their newest learning space is The Commons residential complex, highlighted below, which opened in August. Built to LEED-certified standards, the buildings feature a highly innovative stormwater design that Dr. Wadzuk and her team will monitor to determine how it’s working and meeting municipal requirements.