Erik Smith, Ph.D.

Dr. Smith constructs predictive hydrodynamic and water-quality models (CE-QUAL-W2; EFDC) to better understand land-use and hydrologic modification effects on nutrient fate/transport for inland lakes, estuaries, and reservoir systems. He also has a strong interest in improving the predictive capacity of these models to simulate harmful algal blooms.


Erik Smith has been a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey since 2005. Other hydrodynamic modeling interests include applied models to better serve water resource managers, such as the timing of harmful algal blooms and water-quality changes from large interbasin water transfers. Aside from hydrodynamic and water-quality modeling, Erik has applied experience with machine learning techniques (such as boosted regression trees) and Geographic Information Systems (including all ESRI products and QGIS).

Erik started his career as a supporting scientist and full-time hydrologist on the NAWQA program's Agricultural Chemicals Transport (ACT) team (South Fork Iowa River). Building on this experience, he has spent much of his career leading studies to better understand agricultural impacts on groundwater recharge from both subsurface tile drainage and crop irrigation.


Doctor of Philosophy, Water Resources Science, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, 2012, "Spatial and temporal variability of preferential flow in a subsurface-drained landscape in north-central Iowa" (Advisor: Dr. Paul D. Capel). [Link]

Master of Science, Geology and Geophysics, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, 2005, "A new technique for sampling speleothem organic matter to interpret the carbon isotopic record of Hulu Cave China from 75 to 10.9 ka" (Advisor: Dr. R. Lawrence Edwards).

Other Recent Publications:

Coupe, R.H., Thornburg, J.D., Smith, E.A., and Capel, P.D., 2020, Spatial and temporal variability in discharge and nitrate in Iowa subsurface drains: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, v. 192. [Link]

Recent Conference Proceedings:

Smith, E.A., and Shah, S.D., 2019, "Simulation of the Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project on Salinity and Water-Surface Elevations in Lake Houston, Texas (2009-2017)”, 39th International Symposium of the North American Lake Management Society, Burlington, VT, November 14, 2019.

Kiesling, R.L., and Smith, E.A., 2019, "Minnesota Super Sentinel Lakes: Predictive modeling to assess ecological change”, 2019 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Sentinel Lakes Summit, Alexandria, MN, March 27, 2019.

Kiesling, R.L., Smith, E.A., and Reneau, P., 2018, “Effects of tributary inflows on water budgets in the St. Louis River Estuary: model calibration”, 2018 State of Lake Superior Conference: International Association for Great Lakes Research, Houghton, MI, October 10, 2018.

Smith, E.A., and Kiesling, R.L., 2018, "Assessing lake ecosystem responses to stressor gradients”, 2018 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Annual Research Forum, Glenwood, MN, June 27, 2018.

Smith, E.A., and Kiesling, R.L., 2017, “Using predictive lake modeling to assess the development of cyanobacteria blooms”, 9th U.S. Harmful Algal Bloom, Baltimore, MD, November 16, 2017.