Douglas A Burns


Doug holds an M.S. in Environmental Sciences from the Univ. of Virginia, and a Ph.D. in Water Resources Management from the State Univ. of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry. His disciplinary background is primarily in biogeochemistry and hydrology with a focus on understanding the processes that control the cycling of chemical elements through watersheds and ecosystems. An emphasis on the cycling of atmopsheric pollutants and their environmental effects is noteworthy. He has worked as a Research Hydrologist in the New York Water Science Center since 1987 on studies that include the effects of acid rain on ecosystems, the cycling of nitrogen in watersheds, and environmental mercury cycling. His investigations have also included the environmental effects of landscape disturbance such as suburban land use, climate change, and forest harvesting. A recent interest is studying the effects of ongoing and future climate change on streamflow, with an emphasis on high flows. He works collaboratively, often with several investigators from the USGS, and other agencies and universities. Study approaches applied include monitoring of water and soil chemistry, quantifying the rates of key cycling processes, experimental manipulations of landscapes, use of natural and applied isotope tracers, and statistical and process-level models. He is also active in professional societies, has organized conferences at regional, national, and international levels, and has served in leadership roles in many organizations and agencies. Other activities include chairing a proposal evaluation panel for a federal agency, working at the science-policy interface by serving as Director of the National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, and serving on an EPA Clean Air Act Advisory Panel, as well as serving on program evaluation and advisory panels for several agencies and science organizations.


  • Ph.D., 1999, State University of New York, College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, Syracuse, New York, Major: Forest Hydrology, Areas of Study: Biogeochemistry, Hydrology
  • M.S., 1982, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, Major: Environmental Sciences, Area of Study: Aqueous Geochemistry
  • B.A., 1978, Hope College, Holland Michigan, Major: Geology

Professional Experience

  • Research Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Troy, New York, 1987-2018
  • Director, National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, 2006-12
  • Visiting Scientist, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Hamilton, New Zealand, 1999
  • Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia, 1984-87
  • Teacher, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, Maryland, 1983-84
  • Instructor of Geology, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, 1982-83

Honors, Awards, and Elected Membership

  • Excellence in Reviewing Award, Biogeochemistry, 2013-14
  • Guest National Lecturer, U.S. Geological Survey, National Research Program, 2009
  • Report of the Year Award, Honorable Mention, U.S. Geological Survey, Northeastern Region, 2002
  • Appreciation Award, Coordination of Watershed Biogeochemistry Training Course, U.S. Geological Survey, National Training Center
  • Outstanding Performance, U.S. Geological Survey, 1994
  • Fred Homsley Moore Teaching Assistant Award, Runner-up, Univ. of Virginia, Dept. of Environmental Sciences, 1982
  • Elected membership, Sigma Gamma Epsilon, Earth Science Honors Fraternity, Univ. of Virginia, Dept. of Environmental Sciences, 1980
  • Sigma Xi, Outstanding Senior Research Award, Hope College, 1978
  • Graduated Cum Laude, Hope College, 1978

Leadership Activities

  • Vice-Chair, National Atmospheric Deposition Program, 2017-18
  • Secretary, National Atmospheric Deposition Program, 2016-17
  • Clean Air Act Scientific Advisory Committee, Secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards Review Panel for Oxides of Nitrogen and Sulfur, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., 2015-18
  • Chair, Northeastern Ecosystem Research Cooperative, 2015-18
  • Co-Chair, 9th International Acid Rain Conference, Rochester, NY, 2015
  • Technical Advisory Committee, Critical Loads of Atmospheric Deposition, National Atmospheric Deposition Program, 2014-16
  • Water Quality Technical Advisory Committee, American Geophysical Union, Hydrology Section, 2014-16
  • Clean Air Act Scientific Advisory Committee, Air Monitoring and Methods Subcommittee, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 2011-14
  • International Scientific Steering Committee, 8th International Acid Rain Conference, Beijing, China, 2010-11
  • Science Advisory Committee, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation, and Protection Program, 2010-14
  • Program Review Panel, Atmospheric Modeling Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 2008
  • Advisory Committee, Multi-Pollutant Air Quality Management, North American Research Strategy for Tropospheric Ozone (NARSTO), 2006-09
  • Panel Chair, Proposal Evaluation Panel, Watershed Processes, National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., 2004
  • Program Committee, American Geophysical Union, Biogeosciences Section, 2000-04
  • Course Coordinator and Instructor, Catchment Hydrology, U.S. Geological Survey National Training Center, Denver, Colorado, 2000-01
  • Advisory Committee, Mid-Atlantic Regional Climate Assessment, U.S. National Assessment of Climate Variability and Change, 1998-2000
  • Course Coordinator and Instructor, Biogeochemistry of Small Watersheds, U.S. Geological National Training Center, Denver, Colorado, 1991-2001