Our research group is primarily interested in the structure, function and dynamics of watersheds with an emphasis on the quantity and quality of surface water, and ecosystem cycling of carbon and nutrients. In this work we explicitly include the actions of human individual and institutional behavior as part of the watershed ecosystem. We combine field measurement and observation of hydrological and ecological processes with the development and application of distributed watershed models, geographic information science (GISci) and remote sensing techniques. Currently we are working in a range of watersheds within forested, agricultural and urban environments. This encompasses a set of Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites (Baltimore Ecosystem Study and Coweeta), as well as other watersheds in North Carolina (Neuse, Haw, Yadkin, Catawba). Previous work has included work in northern Manitoba, central Saskatchewan, central Ontario, the Loess Plateau of northern China and the Pacific Northwest.
An emphasis of our work in GISci is the representation of watersheds as hierarchical systems based on a landscape framework, including the topography, soils, land cover, and infrastructure, arranged within nested subcatchments, hillslopes, bottomlands and stream channels. Remote sensing techniques are used and developed to extract key attributes of vegetation canopies, along with anthropogenic features. Digital terrain analysis is keyed towards the extraction of the full flowpath network, and the partition of the catchment into the component geomorphic hierarchy features. Demographic databases and household survey are used to describe how households and communities are organized within the watershed, and how we interact directly or indirectly with the environment.