Dr. Bilal Iftikhar is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Water Resource Science and Engineering Group under Environmental Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). His research at ORNL focuses on the optimization of multi-objective reservoir systems and the development of decision support systems for integrated water resources assessment, planning, and management. He is also tracking littoral area variability in multi-purpose reservoirs and its impact on greenhouse gas emissions through remote sensing/Google earth engine.
Prior to coming to ORNL, Bilal completed his Ph.D. in Water Resources Management at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. As a doctoral graduate, Bilal developed an optimization algorithm, the Orthogonal Function Dynamic Programming (OFDP) model, that can optimize the operation of a large multi-objective reservoir system. He successfully validated the new approach in fairly large case studies. Specifically, one of the demonstrations in his dissertation encompasses a system of three river basins (ACT, ACF & SRB), each of which contains 3 to 4 large (and several smaller) reservoirs, all realistically modelled at the level used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in their operational models and applications. Bilal has also been very keen on demonstrating the value of the new approach through head-to-head comparisons with commonly used modeling tools. To this end, he effectively interacted with two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Districts, set up modeling systems (ResSim) and management procedures identical to those used in the field, and demonstrated the relative value of the new approach with respect to various performance metrics, including system hydropower output, reliability of meeting various water supply targets, spillage, and reservoir depletion and recovery during and after droughts, among others.
His academic and research journey includes three graduate-level degrees in the areas of water resources management, hydraulics/ fluid mechanics, and environmental design. Prior to his Ph.D. Bilal worked as an Assistant Director in the Govt. of Pakistan for six years where he was involved in the operation, construction of new dams, and feasibility studies of new potential dam sites.