Maria Dragila
Professor, Soil Physics and Chair, Graduate Program in Soil Science

Physical mechanisms that control water motion in soil, porous media, and fractured porous media. 

OSU Campus
Department of Crop and Soil Science
3173 Ag & Life Sciences Bldg
Corvallis, OR 97331
United States
(541) 737-5739


Current Research Activity Overview:

  1. Movement of air-water interfaces along micro-topography - Laboratory investigation on the effect of surface micro-textures on the dynamic contact angle.
  2. Hydrophobic Soil - Investigating the biophysical processes that control soil water motion in seasonally water repellent soils, specializing in loamy sands in semi-arid climates.
  3. Transport of solutes and liquids within micro-fractured rock surfaces. Theoretical and laboratory investigation of thin film instabilities in liquid transport within near-vertical micro-fractures in karst terrain.
  4. Gas movement in fractured soil and rocks. Collaborative project investigating the role of near-surface diurnal temperature fluctuations on gas motion in fractures, and the ensuing impact on water vapor loss, solute redistribution and gas-atmosphere exchange. 


  • 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


  • SOIL 435 Environmental Soil Physics
  • SOIL 535. Soil Physics
  • SOIL 536. Vadose Zone Hydrology Laboratory
  • SOIL 599. Critical Review of Soil Processes (Soil Processes Journal Club)

I accept graduate students in Soil Science, Water Resources Science, and Water Resources Engineering



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



Dragila, Maria I., Uri Nacshon, and Noam Weisbrod, Fractures as advective conduits at the earth-atmosphere interface, AGU Special Issue 'Dynamics of Fluids and Transport in Fractured-Porous Media' Ed. Boris Faybishenko. Accepted Dec 2013, to be published in 2015.

Woolverton, P. and M.I. Dragila. 2014. Characterization of hydrophobic soils: a novel approach using mid-infrared photoacoustic spectroscopy. Applied Spectroscopy, 68, 1407-1410.

Weisbrod, Noam, Uri Nachshon, Maria I. Dragila and Avrami Grader, 2014, Micro-CT analysis to explore salt precipitation impact on porous media permeability, Ch 20 in E. L. Mercury et. al, Eds, Transport and Reactivity of Solutions I Confined Hydrosystems, Nato Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security, DOI 10.1007/978-94007-7534-3_20, © Springer Science + Business Media Dordretch 2014.

*Gray, M, Johnson, MG, Dragila, MI, Kleber, M, 2014, Water Uptake in biochars: The roles of porosity and hydrophobicity. Biomass and Bioenergy, 61,196-205, doi:10.1016/j.biombio.2013.12.010

*Ganot, Y, Dragila, MI, Weisbrod, N, 2014, Impact of thermal convection on CO2 flux across the earth-atmosphere boundary in high-permeability soils, Agricultural and Forest Metrology,184, 12-24, doi:10.1016/j.agroformet.2013.09.001

Ganot, Y., M. I. Dragila, et al. (2012). "Impact of thermal convection on air circulation in a mammalian burrow under arid conditions." Journal of Arid Environments 84: 51-62.

Kizito, F., M. I. Dragila, et al. (2012). "Hydraulic redistribution by two semi-arid shrub species: Implications for Sahelian agro-ecosystems." Journal of Arid Environments 83: 69-77.

Nachshon, U., M. Dragila, et al. (2012). "From atmospheric winds to fracture ventilation: Cause and effect." Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences ,117.

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).