Karletta Chief of Black Mesa received her doctorate in Hydrology and Water Resources from the School of Engineering at the University of Arizona on May 12. Her Ph.D. minor was Soil, Water, and Environmental Science.
Chief's dissertation was entitled "Soil Air Permeability and Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity: Development of Soil Corer Air Permeameter, post-fire soil physical changes, and 3D air flow model in anisotropic soils." It was published in "Vadose Zone Hydrology Journal." She submitted a manuscript to "Soil Science Society of America" and plans to submit her third manuscript to "VZJ."
Chief is T'ódíchííníí, born for T'óáhán, her maternal grandfather is Tízíání and her paternal grandfather is Yéi'ii dine'é Táchiinii. Her parents are Paul and Lillian Chief.
Chief grew up on the Navajo Nation without electricity and running water with Navajo as her first language. She graduated from Page High School in 1994 and is a first generation college graduate. She received a B.S. and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University in 1998 and 2000. In 2000-01, she served as Miss Navajo Nation and represented her people as a leader, role model, and environmental advocate.
While pursuing her doctorate, Chief taught Hydrology 201 and 202, tutored Native American undergraduate science and engineering students, traveled across the Southwest to provide motivational speeches to Native American students, helped establish the Miss Navajo Council, Inc. and Nídeiltihí Navajo Elite Runners, Inc., ran her first marathon and raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, was an active member of Water for People, and helped build her parents a home.
In her spare time, Chief enjoys running half marathons and marathons, taking photos, traveling and spending time with her family. Foremost, she gives all her thanks to God and her parents, grandparents, family and friends who have supported her in her academic endeavors.
For the past three years, Chief was awarded the John Rainer American Indian Leadership Award, University of Arizona Marshall Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, University of Arizona Outstanding Teaching Assistant in the School of Engineering, Stanford University Minority Alumni Task Force Featured Alumni, University of Arizona Centennial Doctoral Student Award, Arizona Hydrological Society Scholar, and the National Science Foundation Doctoral Fellowship Award.
Chief plans to continue publishing her research manuscripts at a research, national lab or university institution.