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Hydrology Research Opportunities

The below list features profiles of USGS scientists who are looking for interns to assist with their research in the areas of hydrology and adjacent fields of study. Interested students should reach out to the individual researcher via the contact information provided. 

woman with dark hair


Krissy Hopkins, Research Physical Scientist  


Krissy Hopkins studies the impacts of urbanization on rivers and streams, focused on understanding how the intensity and type of development impacts water quality and quantity. This includes examining the impacts of different types of stormwater management strategies, both conventional and infiltration-based (i.e., green infrastructure), on watershed hydrology and nutrient fluxes. Her work also focuses on translating ecosystem functions into ecosystem services and values by applying ecosystem services approaches to floodplain systems and green stormwater infrastructure.








A stream with rocks and trees


Laura Norman, Supervisory Research Physical Scientist


I conduct research on hydrogeomorphological and biogeochemical cycles of dryland fluvial ecosystems that make them unique, yet vulnerable to land use activities and climate change. I use remotely sensed imagery and other geospatial data in complex hydrological, hydraulic, and LULC models to predict the fate and transport of non-point source pollutants and identify their sources, consider potential growth scenarios and proposed interventions, and quantitatively document findings. I develop experimental designs of ecohydrologic field data collection and spatial modeling to address questions about natural and human disturbances such as drought, development, and flooding, their impacts on the watershed and on society, and look for nature-based solutions for management. I primarily study water-scarce regions of the North America, to investigate hydrologic budgets, including plant, soil, water interactions (ecohydrology), to define effects of change, discover and interpret implications of anthropogenic impacts, and revise theories that address environmental concerns of society. The sky is the limit!



A man wearing a blue collared shirt standing outside with trees in the background

John Nimmo, Research Physicist Emeritus 


My research extends to many topics of unsaturated-zone hydrology: the flow of water through unsaturated soil and rock, interactions with related hydrologic processes such as runoff and aquifer recharge, and extensions to contamination issues and plant-water relations. My collaborators and I work with data from field observations and monitoring, and from lab and field experiments. We develop new models, formulas, and algorithms through iterative hypothesizing and testing against data. 

I focus in particular on preferential flow phenomena. Much water in soil and rock moves not as slow diffuse flow, but rapidly through preferential flow channels such as root holes and fractures. Impacts are profound and far-reaching for issues such as contaminant transport, ecohydrology, and aquifer recharge. Understanding is limited and accepted theory is lacking, making preferential flow a crucial and exciting area of earth science. 

Examples of recent achievements with young scientists include: An improved method of calculating infiltrometer results for rapid and easy measurements of soil hydraulic conductivity. Lab experiments with our unique apparatus have confirmed the appropriate theoretical law for flow through unsaturated porous rock. A new model for analyzing groundwater levels quantifies aquifer recharge from individual rainstorms and relates it to storm characteristics.  


Man in a hole in the ground surrounded by leaves, with soil samples in the foreground

Kevin Ryan, Hydrologist


Kevin Ryan works with the Watershed Research Section in the New York Water Science Center to conduct interdisciplinary studies that support natural resource management and policy decisions. Student research opportunities are available for field, lab, and data synthesis projects investigating watershed biogeochemical processes in soils, streams, and lakes. Research focus areas include carbon cycling, climate change, environmental sensors, catchment hydrology, and analysis of organic matter composition. Local and national-scale projects are possible. The Soil and Low-Ionic-Strength Water Quality Laboratory is located in Troy, NY in the Hudson Valley between the Adirondack and Catskill mountains. Let's start a conversation about a project that excites you! 


ariel view of a river running through a valley

Joshua Koch, Research Hydrologist


The Arctic is warming faster than most other regions of Earth, leading to drastic changes caused by permafrost thaw, vegetation change, and altered precipitation and fire regimes. Streams and rivers provide a key to understanding how warming impacts landscapes and ecosystems. Rivers integrate the signatures of change in their watersheds, and together river discharge and chemistry provide information that can be used to gain insight into these changes. We seek students interested in using existing data on river discharge and chemistry from Alaska to make new discoveries regarding the causes and consequences of Arctic thaw. Datasets are available to consider changes in specific regions (eg. Arctic, Boreal, glaciated, mountainous, lowland, etc.) and to scale up from study catchments to broader regions, all of Alaska, or the Arctic. In many cases 15-minute interval data is available, which is supplemented with discrete samples of broader chemical suites. Other ancillary data on hydrology, biogeochemistry, and ecosystems are available as needed to develop and test hypotheses.