Can we predict where rivers will change during a large flood? What happens to a river when we build or remove a dam? How do contaminant get into a river and where do they go? These are some of the questions my research tries to answer. I am a hydrologist with research interests in fluvial responses to disturbance -- whether the disturbance is natural (e.g. large floods or climate change) or anthropogenic (e.g. dams, dam removal, or pollution). These disturbances include extreme precipitation events, which are now 67% more common in New England than they were just 30 years ago. And they include dams. New England has one of the highest densities of dams in the U.S. and is one of the leading regions of dam removal in the U.S. -- well over 120 New England dams have been removed in the past two decades and more than 70 are slotted for removal in the coming years. Despite the growing number of dam removals, the science of river restoration lags behind its application. And finally, these disturbances include the imprints of the industrial and agricultural legacy of New England on the contaminant loads in our rivers and streams.
With Dartmouth professors Frank Magilligan and W. Brian Dade and Keith Nislow from the U.S. National Forest Service we have been documenting the impacts large storms like Hurricane Irene and the building and removal of dams, both big and small, on New England rivers, including impact on the shapes of river, the sediment and contaminants they transport, and the habitats they host. We use a wide variety of techniques in our work, including sediment age dating and tracing using both naturally occurring and anthropogenic (e.g., iodine-131 from the failure of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex) short-lived fallout radionuclides, detailed in-channel topographic, sediment, and habitat surveys, HEC-RAS and RiverFLO-2D flow modeling, remote sensing and GIS analyses, and high-resolution chemical analyses of soil and sediment.
My research interests also include several other projects, most notably in experimental geomechanics with Professor Erland Schulson in Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering (where I am an adjunct professor). Together we are using ice to answer such challenges as the cause of deep earthquakes, the limits of ice loading of natural and manmade structures in ice infested waters, and whether an understanding of fracture mechanics help to constrain flow and transport in fractured rock aquifers.
I am also director of the Dartmouth GK-12 program, a professional development program for graduate students that develops their communications skills by placing them in local middle school classrooms.
To learn more about my research, check out examples of my recent publications. Also check our the descriptions of projects my current graduate students are working on.