Maria Dragila
Professor, Unsaturated Flow

Physical mechanisms involved in mass and energy transport in highly heterogeneous and fractured porous media.

OSU Campus
Department of Crop and Soil Science
3135 Ag & Life Sciences Bldg
Corvallis, OR 97331
United States
(541) 737-5739


Research Activity Overview:

  1. Transport of Phytophthora zoospores in porous media- Laboratory investigation of the transport properties of live biological entities through unsaturated porous media. Funded by USDA-NRI.
  2. Evaporation and salt precipitation- Laboratory/theoretical investigation of the physical-chemical mechanisms controlling the location of salt precipitation during the evaporation process in heterogeneous porous media. Funded by NSF.
  3. Evaporation from soil cracks- Investigate the effect that soil cracks have on the flux of energy (heat), water (evaporation) and solutes (salt redistribution). Funded by NSF.
  4. Hydrophobic Soil- Investigating the chemical-physical mechanisms responsible for the peculiar behavior that some hydrophobic soils, where water beads that impact the surface are rapidly “coated” with soil particles. This “coating” of water beads increases erosion of planting beds. Funded by USDA-AFRI.
  5. Liquid flow in unsaturated fractures- Investigating the effect surface texture (micro-topography) has on the movement of an air water interface. Funded by NSF.


  • Aquifer Salinization
  • Vadose Zone Fractures
  • Sudden Oak Death
  • High-resolution Cesium Magnetometer Surveys to Locate Agricultural Drain Tiles
  • Hydrophobicity of Quincy soil
  • ORE00118 Investigation of Non-Darcian Transport Mechanisms Affecting Movement of Chemicals from Agricultural Operations


  • CSS 335. Introduction to Water Science and Policy
  • CSS 535. Soil Physics
  • CSS 536. Vadoze Zone Hydrology Laboratory
  • CSS 599. Critical Review of Soil Processes (Soil Processes Journal Club)



Ph.D. 1999 Hydrogeology University of Nevada, Reno
M.S. 1984 Geophysics and Space Physics University of California, Los Angeles
B.S. 1980 Physics California Polytechnic Univeristy, Pomona
Academic Employment
1999-Present Professor, Soil Physics
Department of Crop and Soil Science
Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
1992-1995 Instructor, Physical and Earth Sciences
College of Natural Sciences
Shasta College, Redding, CA
1989-1991 Instructor, Physics and Geology
Department of Physics, Department of Geoscience (Joint appointment)
California State University, Chico, CA
Professional Employment (non-Academic)

Director, Natural Science Learning Center
College of Natural Sciences
Shasta College, Redding, CA


Curriculum Development Team, Member
California Science Project, Inland Northern California
College of Natural Sciences
Shasta College, Redding, CA


Deputy Team Chief, Science Requirements and Operations Planning
Project Galileo, NASA

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, CA

Deputy Team Chief, Fields and Particles Science Team
Project Galileo, NASA

Science Planning Lead
Thousand Astronomical Units (TAU) Mission, NASA


Post-Graduate Researcher
Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics

University of California, Los Angeles, CA

1975-1981 Scientist, Radiation Physics Group
Apollo Project, NASA

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, CA


I accept graduate students for Crop and Soil Science


Nachshon*, U., S.Ebrahim*, D. Or, M. Dragila and N. Weisbrod. 2011. (accepted). Infrared thermography of evaporative fluxes and dynamics of salt deposition on heterogeneous porous surfaces. Water Resources Research.

Nachshon*, U., N. Weisbrod, M.I. Dragila and A. Grader. 2011. Combined evaporation and salt precipitation in homogeneous and heterogeneous porous media, Water Resources Research, 47, W03513, doi:10.1029/2010WR009677.

Warren*, J., M, R. Brooks, M.I. Dragila and F.C. Meinzer. 2011. In situ separation of root hydraulic redistribution of soil water from liquid and vapor Transport, Oecologia, 166(4):899-911, doi:10.1007/s00442-011-1953-9

Ochiai*, N., J.L. Parke and M.I. Dragila. 2011. Pattern swimming of Phytophthora citricila zoospores: An example of microbial bioconvection, Fungal Biology, 115:228-235.

Ochiai*, N. M. I. Dragila and J.L. Parke. 2010. 3D tracking of colloids at the pore-scale using epifluorescence microscopy, Vadose Zone Journal, 9(3):576-587. Cover page article, doi: 10.2136/vzj2009.0047

Gervais, J.A., S.M. Griffith, J.H. Davis, J.R. Cassidy and M.I. Dragila. 2010. Effects of Gray-tailed Vole Activity on Soil Properties, Northwest Science, 84(1).

Weisbrod, N., M.I. Dragila, U. Nachshon*, and M. Pillersdorf*. 2009. Falling through the cracks: The role of fractures in Earth-atmosphere gas exchange, Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L02401, doi:10.1029/2008GL036096.

Kamai*, T. N. Weisbrod, and M.I. Dragila. 2009. Impact of ambient temperature on evaporation from surface-exposed fractures. Water Resources Research. 45. W02417. soi:10.1029/2008WR007354.

Weisbrod, N., M. Dragila, U. Nachshon* and M. Pillersdorf*. 2009. The role of cavities in earth-atmosphere interactions. In: From Head Water to the Ocean: Hydrological Changes and Watershed Management. Taniguchi, M., Burnett W.C., Fukushima, Y., Haigh, M. and Y. Umezawa, (Eds), Tayler & Francis Group, London, UK, pp. 9-15 (peer reviewed).