My research draws from both Earth science and engineering to formulate and test mechanistic, predictive models that quantitatively describe the behavior of surface processes such as floods, landslides, and debris flows. On event or decadal times scales, many surface processes can devastate communities or pose geologic hazards. On geologic time scales, surface processes transport mass and energy across the Earth’s surface to shape the landscapes we live in. My research interests cut across these timescales to find answers to basic questions pertaining to hazardous surface processes: Why do they occur? When will they occur? How large will they be? What areas or ecosystems are susceptible? How do they shape landscapes? How might their magnitude and frequency change with changing climate, land use, or tectonic forcing? To make progress on such questions I combine experimental, theoretical, computational, and field methods to exploit the fact that surface processes obey the basic laws of physics and chemistry and can be observed in some fashion today.
Most projects my group works on generally include some permutation of the following activities: field mapping and surveying, development and use of novel environmental sensor networks; constraining dates and rates with various geochemical systems; digital elevation data analysis at scales from 90 m to 1 cm; continuum mechanics; fluid mechanics; granular mechanics; scientific programing; finite element and finite volume techniques for continuum computation; discrete element/molecular dynamics modeling for discrete computation; computational landscape evolution models to explore mechanistically how drainage networks evolve; and bench-top lab experimentation.