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CEE Grad Student Zahra Anwar Profiled on

Zahra Anwar

Zahra Anwar

Zahra Anwar, who is pursuing a master’s degree in water resources engineering, is profiled on, a website created by the Hydro Research Foundation and its Hydro Review, the largest global hydro industry publication on the market. Anwar is studying how to construct ramps that allow catadromous American eels to migrate upstream where streams are dammed or have natural barriers. She hopes to find a job in the hydropower industry when she completes her studies.

Anwar holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from UMass Amherst and a B.A. in Physics from Mount Holyoke College. She is pursuing an M.S. in Water Resources Engineering with a Specialization in Fish Passage Engineering from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at UMass Amherst.

According to the HydroWorld profile, Anwar’s research aims to establish optimized designs for climbing substrates appropriate for upstream ramp pass designs for juvenile anguillid eels. The research also seeks to identify appropriate prototypes and fabrication materials for generic, low-cost substrates that can be commercially manufactured. The results will improve performance of existing eel-ramp pass designs, assist in standardization of ramp pass design and operating criteria, and reduce the cost for installing and operating eel-ramp passes at hydropower projects.

HydroWorld explains that upstream passage of catadromous American eels (Anguilla rostrata) at dams and other migratory barriers is required to provide eels access to critical upstream habitats. Unlike most other fishes, eels possess the ability to climb rough, wetted surfaces in order to ascend natural barriers such as waterfalls, a behavior that allows researchers such as Anwar to develop specialized climbing ramp passes to facilitate upstream passage of eels at anthropogenic barriers.

Anwar is one of the graduate students that the Hydro Research Foundation is actively supporting to conduct research related to conventional and pumped storage hydropower. These students are funded through the Department of Energy’s Water Power Program and industry partners through a four-year grant.

The article adds that Anwar is actively seeking work in the hydropower industry upon completion of her degree this summer. To connect with Anwar or learn more about the Research Awards Program please email or visit the website. (August 2017)