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Welcome to the Department of Watershed Sciences


The Department of Watershed Sciences offers comprehensive educational opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students in the hydrologic and ecological sciences pertaining to watersheds.

Our faculty provide expertise in all aspects of the hydrologic cycle, in the conservation, restoration and management of aquatic ecosystems, and in the remote sensing and geographic analysis of the earth's landcovers.

Graduates of our programs become teachers and researchers at major universities, scientists and managers for natural resource agencies, and professionals with consulting and non-profit environmental firms.

Welcome to WATS!

Peter Wilcock

Dr. Peter Wilcock, Department Head

I've just completed my second year as Department Head and my decision to join USU and WATS feels pretty recent. I'd like to share with you why I made that choice, in case it might help you decide whether this is an entreprise you would like to join.  For me, it was not an easy decision to leave a job that I always felt was the best in the world in a department that has made innovative and continued contributions to the science, engineering, and management of the environment.

Ah, but Cache Valley and USU! I love the place, the people, and the science. Having determined decades ago that the intermountain west provides the landscape and the space that sustain me, Cache Valley emerged as the place that best combines all I am looking for. Nestled against the diverse and gorgeous Bear River Range and looking across the valley to the Wellsville Mountains, Cache Valley combines the right mix of settled and wild: enough population for diverse friends and colleagues while surrounded by open space. I celebrate each morning when I take in the ever-changing views and crisp morning air. And the people! Friendly, competent, fun, helpful, energetic. There is a special ease of making connections and developing genuine friendships. After 36 years in eastern cites (Montreal, Boston, and, my favorite, Baltimore), each day feels like a holiday on which special rules apply.

And the science! The Department of Watershed Sciences and the Quinney College of Natural Resources are powerhouses in the science of natural systems with a real commitment to making that science useful for wise planning and management. We have more ecologists than I have been able to count (many dozens). We have a caucus of six geomorphologists across WATS and the geology department and we have hydrologists and climate scientists. There is a deep team of scientists and engineers across the Colleges of Science, Engineering, and Agriculture. And the view out the window that reminds us of our charge to better understand and conserve our natural resources.

Great things are afoot. Our faculty is young and growing. IN the past two years, we have hired four new faculty: Jereme Gaeta, Trisha Atwood, Edd Hammill and, our newest hire, Janice Brahney. This is a faculty that is young, energetic, and accomplished, and growing more so all the time. We have not lost all our grizzled wisdom, however. Jack Schmidt has returned to the faculty after serving an important and transformative three years as Chief of the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center. We have great graduate students and superb opportunities for more. The spirit here is energetic, collaborative, and outdoors oriented. We take our work seriously but ourselves somewhat less so. The youth, energy, dedication, informality, and enthusiastic collaboration are what attracted me and I intend to do whatever I can to keep that rolling. I am also leading an effort to develop new outdoor experimental facilities in which all of us can collaborate on controlled experiments at full scale with measurement precision characteristic of the laboratory. These efforts, combined with collaborations in high performance computing, point the way to new approaches to natural resources prediction. 

Check us out and find out
why I am so happy to be here!

Peter Wilcock