Jennifer Nafziger, PhD, PEng

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering - Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept

Pronouns: she, her


Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering - Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept


Area of Study / Keywords

Water Resources Engineering River Ice Engineering Ice Jam Flooding Cold Regions Hydrology



  • Ph.D. in Water Resources Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, 2018. Thesis:  Unsteady Ice Processes in Complex River Systems
  • B.A.Sc. in Geological Engineering, Option in Water Resources Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, 2006

Professional Experience

  • November 2022 - Present: Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta
  • 2018-2022: River Hydraulics and Ice Engineer, Alberta River Forecast Centre, Alberta Environment and Protected Areas
  • 2006-2008: Engineer-In-Training, Geoscience Group, Golder Associates Ltd., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Select Awards

  • 2021 Official Commendation - Assistant Deputy Minister, Alberta Environment and Parks
  • 2020 Challenge Coin - Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Emergency Managment
  • 2013 Gerard Medal for Best Overall Paper - Canadian Geophysical Union's Committee on River ice Processes and the Environment (CRIPE)
  • 2012 Gary Salmon Memorial Scholarship - Canadian Dam Association
  • 2011 Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Doctoral Scholarship - Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation
  • 2007 President's Award - Golder Associates

Professional Affiliations

  • Professional Engineer, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta
  • Member, Canadian Geophysical Union's Committee on River ice Processes and the Environment (CRIPE)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Alberta Branch, Canadian Water Resources Association


I study winter river environments in cold regions.  The winter river ice season makes managing Canada’s water resources especially challenging: destructive ice jam floods can occur, river flows often reach their annual minimum, and human and ecological uses compete for highly uncertain quantities of water.  Moreover, engineers and policy makers often borrow analytical approaches and technical tools from more temperate regions, which may not be valid for ice-covered waters. Managing Canada’s cold-region rivers in a changing climate requires a multidisciplinary approach to develop new tools and policies to meet the socio-economic and environmental challenges of the future.  My research develops these new tools and knowledge to aid professionals in designing adaptable communities, building resilient infrastructure, and supporting responsible industries, all while protecting aquatic ecosystems in cold regions.

My current research interests include: 

  • winter hydrometric methods and technology
  • remote sensing of river ice
  • ice jam flood risk assessment
  • river ice breakup processes in Canada’s North
  • flood management and forecasting in Northern Canada
  • water management policy and guidelines in cold regions
  • winter aquatic habitat
  • snow hydrology
  • environmental history of extreme flooding events in northwestern Canada
  • integration of research results into operational hydrology environments


CIV E 439 - Water Resources Engineering Design

Design of hydraulic structures and river engineering works, including: dams, spillways, energy dissipators, bridges, culverts, erosion protection and river training works. Students work in teams on a design project. Prerequisite: CIV E 431. Note: Restricted to fourth-year traditional and fifth-year co-op engineering students.

CIV E 636 - River Ice Engineering

Elementary heat transfer analysis. Ice formation processes. Ice hydraulics. Ice mechanics. Interaction of ice and engineering structures.

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