Scott Ritter

Civil and Environmental 

Scott Ritter, while rowing on Newport Bay as a member of the UCI Rowing Team, became interested in the Bay’s water quality and the sources of pollution that have compromised it. Through his work with Dr. Stanley Grant, Scott has developed a computer program for visualizing and interpreting environmental data, a potentially valuable tool in maintaining and restoring the quality of water in the Bay. He describes research as “a priceless introduction to the world of science and academia,” and has particularly enjoyed the vicissitudes of the research process—the fluctuations between unavoidable failures and unimaginable successes. Since Fall 2005, Scott has been pursuing a graduate degree at Stanford University. triangle.gif (504 bytes)




Water quality monitoring data are often four dimensional—including three spatial dimensions and time. The multidimensional nature of water quality monitoring data poses significant interpretational challenges to researchers and managers interested in identifying and mitigating sources of water pollution. These interpretational challenges are particularly acute in tidal embayments (e.g., coastal wetlands and marinas), because the direction of pollution transport (inland or coastward) constantly changes with the tides. To address these challenges, a generalized visualization computer program was developed and used to analyze 4,132 measurements of fecal pollution in Newport Bay, a regionally important tidal embayment in southern California. The results of this analysis indicate that most fecal pollution in the water column of Newport Bay originates in runoff from local storm drains and creeks. Once contaminated runoff flows into Newport Bay, fecal pollution associated with the runoff is transported laterally by the tides. The computational tools developed and tested in this study generate user-friendly graphics that enable a rapid interpretation of large multivariate datasets. Furthermore, the computer programs are implemented in a powerful graphics program (Igor, Wavemetrics) and can be easily used to visualize spatial and temporal pollutant trends in a wide variety of environmental settings. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                

Stanley B. Grant

Henry Samueli 
School of Engineering

When it comes to coastal water quality, Southern California is a “perfect storm,” in its juxtaposition of an urban megalopolis and a world-class coastline that serves as a recreational destination for literally millions of beach visitors each year. Scott’s work is significant in providing a way to visualize, and thus better understand, the role that critical transition zones, such as Newport Bay, play in buffering coastal water quality against the impacts of polluted surface water runoff from urban landscapes. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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