Alexander Soroka

Alex is fascinated in how little decisions we make in our day-to-day lives can add up to big changes in our water supply and its quality.   His research broadly focuses on interactions between land use and water quality in Maryland and Delaware.   Currently Alex is summarizing groundwater quality changes from 1980-present and agronomic practices in the Chesapeake Bay watershed from 1950-2010.  


Alex Soroka is a physical scientist at the USGS Maryland-Delaware-DC Water Science Center in Baltimore, Maryland, where his work primarily focuses on the interactions between agricultural practices and water quality.   He earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science at the State University of New York at Oneonta in 2012 and a Master’s degree in Water Science and Policy at the University of Delaware in 2015.  His thesis work investigated fertilization rates and nutrient uptake for high yielding irrigated grain corn and involved a combination of agronomy and hydrology.

Alex found a home in soil fertility research as a Master’s student advised by Dr. Amy Shober. He contributed to multiple projects involving phosphorous (P) amendments, P transport, cover crop implementation, nutrient uptake by row crops, and irrigation management. In working with extension specialists, Alex learned firsthand of the difficulty that producers face trying to maintain profitability while meeting water quality goals.

Alex began an internship with the USGS in 2014 after his presentation at a field day for local producers caught the eye of USGS scientist Judy Denver. Working out of the Dover, Delaware office, Alex studied the impact of irrigation on nitrogen movement under two corn and soybean fields. In March of 2018, Alex transitioned to a permanent position in the USGS Baltimore office, where he continues to focus on agricultural research. He is also leading a project to develop innovative methods of estimating nitrogen flux into wetlands from grain fields and is coordinating a group of students digitizing agricultural features on the Delmarva peninsula. Alex is also working on linking remote sensing data, such as NDVI, with water quality.



MS, Water Science and Policy, University of Delaware, DE, 2016

Thesis:  Effects of In-Season Fertilizer Strategies on the Yield and Nitrogen Use Efficiency of Irrigated Corn

BS, Environmental Science, State University of New York at Oneonta, NY, 2012

Professional Experience

2018-Present         Physical Scientist, USGS MD-DE-DC Water Science Center, MD

2016-2017            Pathways Physical Scientist Intern, USGS Dover office, DE

2013-2016            Teaching and Research assistant, University of Delaware, DE

2011-2012            Teaching assistant, SUNY Oneonta, NY

2010                       Research Experience for Undergrad (REU) intern, Hubbard Brook, NH




Rice, K.C., Mills, A.I., Fanelli, R., Soroka, A.M., 2019 Seasonality of orthophosphate in three freshwater tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay: Proceedings of the Sixth interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds. July 23-26, 2018,
Shepherdstown, WV. e-Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-243. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 211 p. DOI: 10.2737/SRS-GTR-243  

Denver, J.M., Soroka, A.M., Reyes, B., Lester, T., Bringman, D., Brownley, M., 2018, Monitoring water-quality response of agricultural conservation practices in the Bucks Branch watershed, Sussex County, Delaware: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5020.


Data release:

Soroka, A.M., RosenBloom, N.W., King, A.M., Li, W., Din, A., Petenbrink, M.N., 2020, Water bodies within 500 meters of poultry feeding operations on the Delmarva Peninsula in 2016 and 2017: U.S. Geological Survey data release,

Soroka, A.M., and Blomquist, D.J., 2020, Nitrogen flux estimates in support of Chesapeake Bay Hypoxia and Anoxia forecasts, 1985-2020: U.S. Geological Survey data release,

Soroka, A.M., and Duren, Z., 2020, Poultry feeding operations on the Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia Peninsula from 2016 to 2017: U.S. Geological Survey data release,

Soroka, A.M., Hively, W.D., and Lamb, B.T., 2019, Landsat-derived wintertime greenness datasets and results from cover crop performance analysis within the Tuckahoe Creek watershed, Maryland, from 1984 to 2017: U.S. Geological Survey data release,

Soroka, A.M, Denver, J.M, in press, Chemistry analysis results for water, soil and plant material collected from two agricultural sites in the Nanticoke and Chester River watersheds on the Delmarva peninsula from 2013 to 2016: U.S. Geological Survey data release, accessed January 10th, 2018, at

Soroka, A.M., 2018, Poultry production houses in the Upper Choptank watershed identified using aerial imagery from 1968 to 2018: U.S. Geological Survey data release,

Recent Presentations

Soroka, A.M. Irrigating the Delmarva: Balancing water quality while producing food for 33 million people (Oral Presentation). Jug Bay Wetland Sanctuary. Patuxent, MD. February 9 , 2020

Soroka, A.M, Denver, J.M. Irrigation accelerates nitrate transport within the growing season (Oral Presentation). 23rd Annual Maryland Water Monitoring Council Conference. Linthicum, MD. December 8, 2017

Soroka, A.M, Shober, A, Denver, J.M., Stories from the delmarva: observing nitrogen at regional, field and plot scales (Oral Presentation). Delaware Source Water Protection Citizen & Technical Advisory Committee. Dover, DE, November 8, 2017

Soroka, A. M, on behalf of Denver, J. M., Irrigation as a conservation practice to reduce nitrate concentrations in coastal plain groundwater of eastern shore Chesapeake Bay (oral presentation). Geological Society of America, regional conference. Richmond, VA. March 30 2017

Soroka, A.M., Shober, A. Effects of in-season fertilizer strategies on the yield and nitrogen use efficiency of irrigated corn (oral presentation). Agronomic Society of America, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America International Annual Meeting. Minneapolis, MN. November 15-18 2015.