Julia Cisneros

Contact Information


  • Ph.D. Student Geology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • B.S. Geology, Texas A&M University

I am a 5th year PhD student working with Dr. Jim Best. My interests include sedimentology, surface processes, and bedform morphology and dynamics. My research focus is understanding the morphology and dynamics of dunes in alluvial channels. In my early research, I travelled to the world's largest river in terms of discharge, the Amazon River, Brazil, and in terms of transported sediment load, the Yellow River, China, for river field surveys. Here, I gained information of what the dunes look like in these rivers to better understand how they might form. In early work, I produced a large, spatial analysis of dune morphology thus describing dune size and shape in 5 of the world's big rivers including the Amazon, Mekong, Mississippi, Missouri, and Parana rivers. More recent work in my PhD has focused on how dunes react to varying flows for example during the rising and falling stage of a flood. To investigate this, I have worked with a unique dataset of Multi-Beam Echosounder surveys taken every 2 weeks for the last 15 years of the River Waal, Netherlands. Coupled with information of the flow conditions (flow discharge and water level), I have begun to quantify how dune size and shape change throughout a flood. This information can be used to predict safer shipping navigation conditions, for better quantification of roughness in flow modelling efforts, and for predicting flood hazards and risks. I am also conducting laboratory flume experiments at the Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory, where my main focus is understanding the morphology of bedforms generated in very fine sands and coarse silts – where there is currently a lack of quantitative information. I do this by utilizing acoustic methods to measure three-dimensional vectors in flow velocity at a point and along depth profiles, measuring bed longitudinal profiles, and gathering suspended sediment data.

In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my dog whether that be sitting on the porch, going for a hike, or taking long naps. 


See links below of recent accomplishments:




Geoscience Camp For Girls

Working in the Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Lab: Lab work is not always pretty... and sometimes you approach cleaning a flume the same way you would a bathtub!



Julia and her beautiful dog, Nugget. Nugget is a hard worker and a very kind office mate (hes not very productive though and he mostly sleeps under Julia's office desk... he's lucky he's cute!).


Research Areas