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Kay Hanson Birdsell

Kay Birdsell

Phone (505) 665-0260


  • Computational Physics and Applied Mathematics
  • Numerical modeling
  • Subsurface flow simulation
  • Multiscale-multiphase-multicomponent subsurface reactive flows
  • Deterministic Transport
  • Earth and Space Sciences
  • Geoscience
  • Hydrology
  • Geochemistry


Kay Birdsell is an environmental project leader who works with multidisciplinary teams to characterize and remediate complex environmental sites. She has expertise in building conceptual site models that include historical information, source-term reconstruction, geologic framework models, field and experimental data, and numerical modeling results. Kay is also a computational hydrogeologist with expertise in subsurface flow and contaminant/radionuclide transport. Typical site investigations include vadose-zone contamination, groundwater plumes, vapor plume, and performance assessment of radioactive waste disposal sites. She provides technical leadership, planning, direction, authorship, and review to ensure high quality reports that meet regulatory requirements.


M.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, October 1985

B.S., Chemical Engineering, Arizona State University, May 1983


LANL Positions

Contract Manger for the Los Alamos National Laboratory work on the Underground Test Area project at the Nevada Nuclear Security Site

Technical Project Manager in EES-16, Computation Earth Science, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Subject Matter Expert for Los Alamos National Laboratory Environmental Remediation project and for the Area G Performance Assessment and Composite Analysis





Telfeyan, Katherine, S. Doug Ware, Paul W. Reimus, Kay H. Birdsell. “Comparison of Experimental Methods for Estimating Matrix Diffusion Coefficients for Contaminant Transport Modeling,” J. Contaminant Hydrology Vol. 209, pp. 51-60, 2018.

Heikoop, Jeffrey M., Johnson, Thomas M., Birdsell, Kay H., Longmire, Patrick, Hickmott, Donald D., Jacobs, Elaine P., Broxton, David E., Katzman, Danny, Vesselinov, Velimir V., Ding, Mei, Vaniman, David T., Reneau, Steven L., Goering, Tim J., Glessner, Justin, and Basu, Anirban. "Isotopic evidence for reduction of anthropogenic hexavalent chromium in Los Alamos National Laboratory groundwater,” Chemical Geology, Vol.373, p.1-9, 2014.

Birdsell, Kay H., Brent D. Newman, David E. Broxton, and Bruce A. Robinson. “Conceptual Models of Vadose Zone Flow and Transport beneath the Pajarito Plateau, Los Alamos, New Mexico,” Vadose Zone J 2005;4 620-636.

Stauffer, Philip H., Kay H. Birdsell, Marc S. Witkowski, and John K. Hopkins. “Vadose Zone Transport of 1,1,1-Trichloroethane: Conceptual Model Validation through Numerical Simulation,” Vadose Zone J 2005;4 760-773.

Kwicklis, Edward, Marc Witkowski, Kay Birdsell, Brent Newman, and Douglas Walther. “Development of an Infiltration Map for the Los Alamos Area, New Mexico,” Vadose Zone J 2005;4 672-693.

Birdsell, K.H., A. V. Wolfsberg, D. Hollis, T.A. Cherry, K.M. Bower. “Groundwater flow and radionuclide transport calculations for a performance assessment of a low-level waste site,” J. of Contaminant Hydrology 46, 99-129 (2000).

Soll, W. and K. Birdsell. “The Influence of Coatings and Fills on Flow in Fractured, Unsaturated Tuff Porous Media System,” Water Resources Research, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 193-202. (February 1998).

Auer, L.A., N.D. Rosenberg, K.H. Birdsell, and E.M. Whitney. "The Effects of Barometric Pumping on Contaminant Transport", J. of Contaminant Hydrology 24, 145-166 (1996).

Birdsell, K. H., K. G. Eggert and B. J. Travis. "Three-Dimensional Simulations of Radionuclide Transport at Yucca Mountain," Radioactive Waste Management and Environmental Restoration, Special Issue on Yucca Mountain, 19:(1-3), 165-192 (1994).

Birdsell, K. H., P. G. Stringer, L. F. Brown, G. A. Cederberg, B. J. Travis and A. E. Norris. "Modeling Tracer Diffusion in Fractured and Unfractured, Unsaturated, Porous Media," Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 3:(2-4), 145-170 (1988).

Davis, R. H. and K. H. Birdsell. "Hindered Settling of Semidilute Monodisperse and Polydisperse Suspension," American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 34:(1), 123-129 (1988).

Miller, T.A., V.V. Vesselinov, P. H. Stauffer, K. H. Birdsell, and C.W. Gable. “Integration of Geologic Frameworks in Meshing and Setup of Computational Hydrogeologic Models, Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico,” New Mexico Geological Society Guidebook, 58th Field Conference, Geology of the Jemez Mountains Region II, pp. 121-128 (2007).