Frank L Engel, Ph.D.

A process-oriented field scientist focused on finding applied and practical solutions to water resources and hydrodynamic related issues. 


Frank Engel is a Geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), specializing in fluvial geomorphology and the implementation of cutting edge research applications into operational science. He focuses his research on process-oriented field studies of fluvial environments, with a heavy emphasis on the applications of his findings on river management decisions. Of particular interest to him is how current research advances in non-contact measurements of riverine hydraulic parameters can be operationalized in the USGS for day to day gaging and project applications. Dr. Engel is advocating for the use of camera and radar sensors to measure hydraulic parameters at USGS streamgages or elsewhere to enable increased observation of our surface water networks. As chair of the USGS Water Mission Area (WMA) Surface Velocity Workgroup, Dr. Engel and his colleagues aim to coordinate the national USGS effort at implementing novel non-contact flow measurement techniques including Image Velocimetry  and Surface Velocity Radar (SVR) for stream gaging and research purposes. Dr. Engel's goal is to inform planning and decision making in watershed management, stream restoration, and naturalization projects through applied research.

Frank is also working to pioneer use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for response to water emergencies, including the application of UAS to measure flood inundation in near real-time, as well as deriving flow velocities and other hydraulic parameters with Image Velocimetry and computer vision techniques.

By leveraging a full and increasing suite of non-contact tools & capabilities, Dr. Engel wants to enable the USGS to increase process understanding from water source to sink, provide better situational awareness during emergency response to floods, and advance the cutting edge of water science.

Frank also aids the WMA with various hydroacoustic related projects and training, including acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) uncertainty. His work with the WMA includes the development and maintenance of the Velocity Mapping Toolbox—a Matlab-based software package for the processing and visualization of moving-boat ADCP data in rivers, lakes, and estuaries.

Dr. Engel has co-led and participated in several research projects related to the Asian carp response team, Lake Michigan Diversion Accounting and applied research in the Upper Illinois River among other things.