Wohlgemuth is a hydrologist who studies postfire erosion and treatment strategies.
In the future, Wohlgemuth — who enjoys working outdoors on real-world problems — will continue to quantify and model postfire sediment changes for planning and risk assessment.
In one study, Wohlgemuth found that prescribed fires reduce the soil erosion from subsequent wildfires, suggesting that prescribed burns may be a sediment management tool in addition to helping to manage vegetation or reduce fuel buildup. Wohlgemuth found that prescribed fires reduced postfire cleanup costs and, perhaps, even the need for expensive soil retention structures.
In a second study, Wohlgemuth discovered that seeding with ryegrass is not an effective postfire erosion control measure, although the grass species has long been a standard erosion control plant in California. Wohlgemuth's field tests revealed that ryegrass replaced, rather than augmented, the cover of postfire native regrowth and was no better at reducing erosion than unseeded controls. His findings helped to steer postfire management response away from seeding as an erosion-control technique.