Robert Jacobson, Ph.D.


Dr. Robert B. Jacobson received his Ph.D. from the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, and he holds an undergraduate degree in Geology from Carleton College.  He has worked for the U.S. Geological Survey for 35 years in geologic hazards, neotectonics, paleoseismology, geomorphology, surficial processes and riverine habitat dynamics.  He is the Chief of the River Studies Branch, Columbia Environmental Research Center, Columbia, Missouri, U.S.A., where he supervises a staff of ecologists, fish biologists, geomorphologists and hydrologists engaged in interdisciplinary research in fundamental river processes, applied to pressing river management decisions.


Ph.D. – May 1986 -- The Johns Hopkins University, Whiting School of Engineering, Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering.  Dr. M.G. Wolman, major advisor. Dissertation title: “Spatial and temporal distributions of slope processes in the upper Buffalo Creek drainage basin, Marion County, West Virginia”.

B.A. – June 1979 -- Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota. Magna cum laude with Department honors, in Geology.

Recent Professional Experience                                                                    

2009 - Present    Supervisory Research Hydrologist, Branch Chief, Project Chief.  U.S. Geological Survey, Ecosystems Mission Area. I supervise a team of approximately 30 ecologists, fish biologists, geomorphologists, and hydrologists engaged in interdisciplinary research in river ecosystems. Branch research focuses on large-river ecology, endangered pallid sturgeon, invasive Asian carps, benthic invertebrate indicators of ecological integrity, riverine habitats for migratory waterfowl, and ecosystem service of large-river floodplains.  My research efforts are highly directed toward decision-relevant information needs related to management and restoration of large rivers, with an emphasis on the Missouri River.   

1997 – 2009        Research Hydrologist and Principal Investigator, River Corridor Habitat Dynamics.  U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Discipline, Columbia, Missouri.  I supervise a team of hydrologists and geomorphologists and collaborate with a team of fish biologists, ecologists, hydrologists, and geographers engaged in interdisciplinary river research.  General research objectives are to quantify relations among physical river processes, habitat availability, and biotic responses.  Emphasis is placed on relating quantitative understanding of fundamental fluvial processes to the practice of river rehabilitation. Focus is on gravel-bed streams of the Ozark Plateaus and the highly engineered Lower Missouri River.  The effort also involves extensive collaboration with scientists and students at several research universities, consultation with State and Federal resource management agencies, and public outreach.  Responsibilities include design and implementation of the research program, supervision of staff, and securing operational funds. 

Work Experience  

1989 – 1997           Research Hydrologist, Project Chief, Missouri District Water Resources Discipline, U.S. Geological Survey, Rolla, Missouri.  Research in surficial processes, emphasis on sediment routing through watersheds, formation and maintenance of aquatic habitat

1983 - 1989            Research Geologist, Branch of Eastern Regional Geology, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia.  Research in surficial processes, emphasis on neotectonics, paleoseismology, Quaternary climate change, landslide and flood hazards, Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and Appalachian mountains.