As a Lecturer in Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT, Wendy designed and lead a field study for a group of Masters of Engineering students study in the Aysen region of Chilean Patagonia in January 2009. The project was aimed at evaluating potential impacts of a massive and highly controversial hydro-power project proposal that includes five hydro-dams on Rios Baker and Pascua and 1,400 miles of transmission lines through seven national parks to bring the power north to satisfy copper-industry demand near Santiago. The group assessed the carbon implications of the hydropower project versus a natural gas plant, the primary energy alternative; modeled the energy that might be gained by optimizing reservoir operations at existing hydro-power facilities closer to Santiago; evaluated risks associated with Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) and flooding occurring in the Rio Baker watershed; and analyzed water quality changes that might accompany damming. Academic work was complemented by a trek up the remote Rio Colonia valley to the Northern Patagonian Icefield, followed by a river trip down Rio Colonia to the Rio Baker to its outlet in the fiords at Tortel with friends at Patagonia Adventure Expeditions. Five Masters theses and a group report resulted.
Burrall et al. (2009) Analysis of Proposed Hydroelectric Dams on the Rio Baker in Chilean Patagonia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Wendy is currently working on a large-format film project Patagonia: Ice to Ocean which explores the hydrologic cycle of the vast Rio Baker watershed in Patagonia, capturing its raw physical beauty and highlighting impending climate and energy challenges.