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Center for Colorado River Studies

Students on stream.

Alex Walker

Alex Walker

M.S. Watershed Sciences. Andrew is researching channel changes on the Green River in Utah near Canyonlands National Park. His interests lie in understanding fluvial form and process and directly applying findings to improve river science, policy and management. He draws upon a wide range of techniques, including flow modeling, spatial analysis, dendrochronology, hydrologic monitoring, sedimentology and stratigraphy.

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Todd Blythe

Todd Blythe

M.S. Watershed Sciences. Todd is researching the effects of flow regime modification on the role of floods in sculpting the channel of the Rio Grande in Texas, within Big Bend National Park. His interests are broad, but have recently focused on hydrologic modeling and large scale sediment dynamics. He has a desire to see objective science work to inform management of regulated rivers in the west, including the Colorado.

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Madeline Friend

Maddie Friend

M.S. Watershed Sciences. Madeline is researching fine sediment remobilization in Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the United States. Her interests include fluvial and sediment transport processes, reservoir management, and cohesively communicating science and policy. She has worked as a river guide in Arizona, Utah, and Idaho and draws upon her field experience and technical training to holistically study rivers.

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Christy Leonard

Chrisy Leonard

PhD Watershed Sciences. Christy’s research aims to relate flux-based fine sediment budgets to changes in the channel and floodplain form on the Middle Green River in Colorado and Utah. Using surrogate techniques to measure influx and efflux of sediment, Christy seeks to establish morphological meaning to flux-based sediment budgets by identifying mechanisms, whether large or small, which underlie channel responses to upstream changes in sediment flux induced by water resource infrastructure.

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Lael Gilbert

Lael Gilbert

Lael is Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Colorado River Studies. In addition to a passion for science and communication, she has a love for ecology and big-picture landscapes that make rivers and river research an especially attractive field. She has worked for the Center since its inception maintaining the website, facilitating communication and assisting in the organization of off-site workshops on various topics.

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Join Us!
Doctoral Research and Fellowship Opportunity

Department of Watershed Sciences • Quinney College of Natural Resources • Utah State University

Geomorphic Implications of Fine-Sediment Mass Imbalance of the Middle Green River in Utah 

We seek an energetic and innovative doctoral student to investigate how and why the middle Green River has simplified and narrowed during the past century and to investigate linkages between these changes and characteristics of the flow regime and sediment supply that have changed due to upstream dams, diversions, and land use changes.

 Fine-sediment transport is continuously measured at gaging stations throughout the Colorado River basin by the USGS Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center ( These data are used to calculate sediment budgets for sand and for silt-and-clay for different segments of the river system, including the middle Green River in Dinosaur National Monument and the Uinta Basin. The continuous record of fine-sediment transport, and a distributed network of historical channel measurements, provides an unusual research opportunity to understand how fine sediment mass imbalance is accommodated by geomorphic changes of the channel and floodplain as it stores or evacuates fine sediment. These geomorphic changes affect native fish aquatic habitat.

 This research program will be jointly supervised by John Schmidt , Utah State University, and David Topping , USGS Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center. Please contact us for further information. Four years of stipend support and initial-phase research support are available through the Colorado River Doctoral Scholar program at Utah State University . Supplemental research support will be provided by the USGS Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center. Matriculation will be in the Department of Watershed Sciences at Utah State University. Ideally, we would like the candidate to begin field research in summer 2017.


Join Us!
PhD Scholarship

Department of Watershed Sciences • Quinney College of Natural Resources • Utah State University

Colorado River Doctoral Scholar

 The Department of Watershed Sciences at Utah State University’s Quinney College of Natural Resources announces the Colorado River Doctoral Scholar program. This scholarship provides a stipend and covers tuition and fees for a PhD student whose focus is the application of science to the management of the Colorado River. The scholarship also provides a grant of $5,000 to support initiation of the Scholar’s PhD research. Colorado River Doctoral Scholars are expected to seek supplemental support for their research endeavors. The Colorado River Doctoral Scholarship is awarded for a 4-year period.

 The Colorado River Doctoral Scholar program is part of the Quinney College of Natural Resources’ Center for Colorado River Studies, a home for innovative research, teaching, and outreach that informs management of the Colorado River and other major rivers of the American Southwest. The Colorado River Doctoral Scholar program supports applied research that is applicable to current and emerging management problems of the Colorado River, including the in-stream effects of changing runoff and sediment supply, reservoir operations, changes in fluvial geomorphology and habitat, non-native species introductions and expansion, and river rehabilitation/restoration. We seek innovative approaches that link emerging, multidisciplinary science to management challenges.

 Preference will be given to prospective students with an outstanding academic record and an interest in contributing to scientifically-based management and policy related to the Colorado River and/or its watershed. Applications are encouraged from minorities and members of the Colorado River watershed’s many Native peoples. Students with backgrounds in the earth sciences, geography, aquatic ecology, riparian ecology, and water resources management are encouraged to apply. Applications into the Doctoral Scholar program are reviewed on a rolling basis, and applications are reviewed semi-annually.

 Applications will be reviewed on August 1, 2016, for proposed programs of study beginning in spring term of the 2016-2017 academic year; applications are due on February 1, 2017, for programs of study beginning fall term of the 2017-2018 academic year. The number of scholars is subject to availability of funds.

 Prospective students should apply to the graduate program at Utah State University ( Applicants should provide supplemental information that includes (1) a statement of interest in the Colorado River Doctoral Scholar program, (2) a CV, and (3) a proposed focus of research. Supplemental materials, as well as copies of letters of reference and other application materials, should be sent to: Dr. John (Jack) C. Schmidt, Department of Watershed Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-5210;

Stephen Fortney M.S. 2013

          Geomorphic history of the San Rafael River, Utah 

Jerome Varriale, Phd 2013

          Channel morphology and fine sediment 

Rebecca Manners, Phd 2012

          Dissertation: Mechanisms of Vegetation Induced Channel Narrowing on an Unregulated Canyon-Bound River

Susannah Erwin, Phd 2011

          Dissertation: Development of Sediment Budgets at Multiple Scales: Investigations into the Influence of Sediment Supply on Channel Morphology

David Dean, M.S. 2009

Thesis: A River Transformed: Historic Geomorphic Changes of the Lower Rio Grande in the Big Bend Region of Texas, Chihuahua, and Coahuila (Abstract)

Randy Goetz, 2008

          Thesis: A post-project assessment of the Provo River restoration project: Channel design, reconfiguration, and the reestablishment of critical physical processes.

Nicholas Nelson, M.S. 2007

        Thesis: Hydrology and geomorphology of the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

Jason Alexander, M.S. 2007

        Thesis: The timing and magnitude of channel adjustments in the upper Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam in Brown's Park and Lodore Canyon, Colorado: An analysis of  the pre- and post-dam river using high resolution dendrogeomorphology and repeat topographic surveys. 

Greg Larson, M.S. 2004

        Thesis: Tamarisk and fluvial geomorphic form in Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado and Utah: Effects of flow regulation and implications for resource management (Abstract).

Dave Gaeuman, Ph.D. 2003

        Doctoral Dissertation: Integration of historical geomorphology with existing methods for specifying in-stream flow requirements for habitat and channel maintenance on the lower Duchesne River.

Isaac Larsen, M.S. 2003

        Thesis: Mass-movement sediment delivery to the Green River: Linking bedrock geology, precipitation, and hillslope processes in Dinosaur National Monument

Caroline Elliott, M.S. 2002

        Thesis: Debris fans and geomorphology of Desolation and Gray canyons, Utah

Hoda Sondossi, M.S. 2001

        Thesis: Historical analysis of the geomorphology of sand bars along the Colorado River in upper Marble Canyon, Arizona

Betty Paepke, M.S. 2001

        Thesis: Controls on channel organization and morphology in a glaciated basin in the Uinta Mountains, Utah

Melissa Stamp, M.S. 1999

        Thesis: Hydrologic and geomorphic effects of dams and water diversions on Lake Fork River and Rock Creek, Uinta mountains, Utah

Jen Martin, M.S. 1999

        Thesis: Debris-flow activity in Canyon of Lodore, Colorado: Implications for debris-fan formation and evolution

Brandy Blank, B.S. 1999

        Senior Thesis: Use of stereo-photogrammetry to measure sand-bar erosion and deposition on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park.

Lynn Orchard, B.S. 1998

        Senior Thesis: Fish habitat availability in Desolation and Gray Canyons (abstract).

Tyler Allred, M.S. 1998

        Thesis: Channel narrowing of the Green River near Green River, Utah: History, rates, and processes of narrowing

Paul Grams, M.S. 1997

        Thesis: Geomorphology of the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument

Cindy Rakowski, M.S. 1997

        Thesis: The geomorphic basis of Colorado Sqawfish nursery habitat in the Green River near Ouray, Utah

Mark Smelser, M.S. 1997

        Thesis: Geomorphic adjustibility of streams draining the Uinta Mountains of Utah