Katherine Skalak


Dr. Katherine Skalak studies landscape dynamics and fluvial geomorphology, focused on understanding and predicting changes in the patterns and functions of landforms in response to human impacts and restoration efforts.  In particular, dynamics of fine sediment and particle associated nutrients and contaminants on varying temporal and spatial scales, and management effects on fluvial systems.

Dr. Skalak received her undergraduate degree in environmental science from St. Joseph’s University.  She received her master’s degree in Geology from University of Delaware in 2004. A National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow, she completed her Ph.D in Geological Sciences from the University of Delaware in 2009. She started as a post-doctoral researcher at U.S. Geological Survey in 2009 and became a Research Hydrologist in 2011.



University of Delaware, Newark, DE

Ph.D. in Geological Sciences, August, 2009.

Dissertation Title: Fine-grained channel margin deposits in a typical gravel bed river: Spatial and temporal controls on the distribution, quantity, and residence time and implications for Centennial-scale Sediment and Mercury Cycling.”

Adviser: Dr. James E. Pizzuto


University of Delaware, Newark, DE

M.S. in Geology, August, 2004.

Thesis Title: “The effects of dams on downstream channel characteristics in Pennsylvania and Maryland: assessing the potential consequences of dam removal.”

Adviser: Dr. James E. Pizzuto.


St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA

B. S. in Environmental Science, May, 2001.


Research and Work Experience

U.S. Geological Survey, National Research Program.

Research Hydrologist, 2011 to present. 

U.S. Geological Survey, National Research Program.

Post-doctoral research fellow in the Hydroecology of Flowing Waters Project, National Research Program, 2009 to 2011.

University of Delaware, Department of Geological Sciences.

Visiting scholar, The Johns Hopkins University, 2006 to 2009.

Research Assistant, January 2005 to June 2006.

Research Assistant, September 2002 to September 2003.

Environmental Management Group, Media, PA.

Environmental Consultant, January to August 2002.

Biological Treatment Systems, Bala Cynwyd, PA.

Lab Coordinator, September 2001 to January 2002

Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA

Research Internship, May to September 2000.


Teaching Experience

University of Delaware, Department of Geological Sciences.

Fellow, National Science Foundation’s GK-12 program, June 2006 to 2008.

Teaching Assistant, 2003 to 2004.


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Skalak, K. J., Engle, M. A., Rowan, E. L., Jolly, G. D., Conko, K. M., Benthem, A. J., & Kraemer, T. F. 2014. Surface disposal of produced waters in western and central Pennsylvania: Potential for accumulation of alkali-earth elements in sediments. International Journal of Coal Geology.

Skalak, K. and Pizzuto, J. "Reconstructing suspended sediment mercury contamination of a steep, gravel-bed river using reservoir theory."Environmental Geosciences 20.1 (2014): 17-35.

Skalak, K. J., Benthem, A. J., Schenk, E. R., Hupp, C. R., Galloway, J. M., Nustad, R. A., & Wiche, G. J. 2013. Large dams and alluvial rivers in the Anthropocene: The impacts of the Garrison and Oahe Dams on the Upper Missouri River. Anthropocene.

Skalak, K. Pizzuto, J., Egan, J., Allmendinger, N. 2011. The Geomorphic Effects of Existing Dams and Historic Dam Removals in the mid-Atlantic Region, USA. In Sediment Dynamics Following Dam Removal. American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) monograph.

Flanders, J.R., Turner, R.R., Morrison, T., Jensen, R., Pizzuto, J., Skalak, K., and Stahl, R. 2010. Behavior, distribution, and transport of inorganic and methyl mercury in a high gradient stream. Applied Geochemistry, 25:11. 1756-1769.

Skalak, K., and Pizzuto, J. 2010. The distribution and residence time of suspended sediment stored within the channel margins of a gravel-bed bedrock river. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. DOI: 10.1002/esp.1926.

Skalak, K., Pizzuto, J., and Hart, D. 2009. Influence of small dams on downstream channel characteristics in Pennsylvania and Maryland: implications for the longterm geomorphic effects of dam removal. Journal of American Water Resources Association 5(1): 97-109.

Skalak, K. and Pizzuto, J. 2005. The Geomorphic Effects of Existing Dams and HistoricDam Removals in the mid-Atlantic Region, USA. "Managing Watersheds for Human and Natural Impacts: Engineering, Ecological, and Economic Challenges" EWRI & ASCE, Proceedings.