Hendratta Ali

Dr. Ali’s geoscience interests are broad. She attributes this to growing up in many different geologic environments. While in elementary school, she stayed in a sedimentary environment on the Douala Estuary. Then in middle school, she lived near the Sahara Desert on one of the largest endorheic basins in Africa, close to Lake Chad. In high school, she was on the igneous flank of the active Mount Fako, which, at 13,250 feet, is the fourth highest mountain in Africa. Fortunately, she had more stability during her undergrad, anchored firmly in the metamorphic rocks of the Congo Craton.

Currently, Dr. Ali is an associate professor at Fort Hays State University. She conducts aqueous geochemistry research investigating how stable isotopes can help account for the carbon dioxide released from groundwater, soil, and surface waters into the atmosphere. She also explores petroleum in sedimentary and groundwater in fractured basement rocks. Additionally, she mentors and advises students and occasionally instructs geoscience-themed classes for non-geologists.

A calm tidal creek during low tide conditions in the Wouri Estuary. Summer, 2019

Dr. Ali’s work involves laboratory based analysis, modeling using software, and fieldwork. Some of her field work involves DIC, water quality and acid mine drainage and has taken her across the Midwest and abroad. Currently, Dr. Ali leads two international projects. The first is an NSF-funded International Research Experience for Students (IRES), a project in which she and co-PI, Dr. Atekwana, take students from the US and Cameroon for a 5-week long investigation of hydro-geochemical processes and dissolved inorganic carbon fluxes in the Wouri Estuary. Last year, Dr. Ali, Dr. Atekwana, and their students gathered in Cameroon to explore, collect, process and analyze water and sediment samples across the estuary. Watch a short clip of their experiences here. They conducted surveys of rivers that discharge into the estuary, tidal creeks, and mangroves.


Members of the 2019 NSF-IRES project team during a field day on the Estuary

Her other international project involves groundwater exploration in faulted crystalline rocks. The project is funded by the SEG-Foundation’s Geoscientists Without Borders program. Although postponed this year due to the pandemic, Dr. Ali welcomes applications (Apply Here) from US undergraduate and prospective MS students who wish to participate in these projects. Some of her favorite moments as a mentor have been traveling with students to meetings, field sites or abroad. These unique spaces offer diverse students the opportunity to share stories from their homes and communities, engage with unfamiliar cultures, or take turns sharing their favorite music during long van drives. These moments are priceless reminders of the value and benefits of mentoring.

Dr. Ali is also quite active in the broader geoscience community, and serves in different professional societies. One of her many involvements is with the advocacy initiatives, through the ADVANCEgeo partnership as a Trainer. This partnership aims to “improve the workplace in geosciences”. She also advocates for creating more opportunities for undergraduate students at conferences, increasing equity and representation in the geoscience discipline, and anti-racism. Recently, Dr. Ali and her collaborators launched A Robust Anti-Racism Plan for The Geosciences petition that has received more than 17,000 signatures and counting.

Dr. Ali is an avid reader who enjoys cozy mysteries, preferably with a dash of forensic geoscience, and loves her e-story times with her nieces and nephews. Please send book recommendations her way! She also likes to cook and enjoys the meals she creates from scratch.