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Water and Soil Sciences

Researchers conduct a soil test i a pine stand

All aspects of land and environmental management involve soils and water. Soils and the vegetation they support interact to control the land-atmosphere exchanges of water and carbon, the routing of nutrients and solutes through the environment, and the hydrologic and water quality characteristics of receiving streams

Our faculty research in this area supports a range of questions associated with soil and hydrologic sciences. Faculty research in this area includes:

  • Carbon sequestration
  • Landscape-controlled variation in soil characteristics and watershed behavior
  • The effects of management activities on water quality
  • The effectiveness of best management practices
  • Soils as a medium for plant growth
  • The use of soils to treat or sequester waste materials
  • Hydrology
  • Forest soils
  • Water quality and environmental systems

Funding for our research comes from many sources including NSF, DOE, USDA, USACE, and the wood products industry.


Graduate Degrees in Water and Soil Resources

Our graduate students address basic and applied questions in soil and hydrologic sciences including carbon sequestration, landscape-controlled variation in soil characteristics and watershed behavior, the effects of management activities on water quality, the effectiveness of best management practices, soils as a medium for plant growth, and the use of soils to treat or sequester waste materials. The graduate curriculum is highly flexible, but most of our students take coursework in spatial and statistical analysis in addition to coursework in soils, hydrology, and ecology.

Students may focus on surface and subsurface fluid flow processes, contaminant fate and transport, forest soil processes, environmental systems analysis, and treatment processes for contaminant removal. Additional opportunities exist for interdisciplinary studies with programs in ecology, geology, crop and soil sciences, biological and agricultural engineering, natural resources policy, environmental health sciences, geography, fisheries, wildlife, and environmental design.

Many of our graduates work in resource management, scientific, or regulatory agencies such as the USFS, ARS, USGS, and EPA. Some go on to academic careers. Others work in consulting firms addressing a number of environmental issues, some in forest industry, and some work for environmental NGOs.


Water and Soil Science can be pursued under the MNR, MS, and PhD degree programs. To pursue Water and Soil Science as an official Area of Emphasis (MNR only), the following courses are required:

  Course ID Name Hours*
Select 3: WASR 6110/L Forest Hydrology 4
  WASR 8730 Aquifer Mechanics 3
  WASR 6500 Quantitative Methods in Hydrology 3
  WASR 6000/L Forest Soil Management 3
  GEOL 8710 Watershed-Scale Modeling 3
  ENTO 8150 Wetland Ecology 3
  ECOL 8850/L Terrestrial Biogeochemistry 3
  CRSS 6600/L Soil Physics 3
  CRSS 6540/L Pedagogy



*Total of 9 hours required for the area of emphasis


For general questions about pursuing a graduate degree at Warnell, contact a member of the graduate team:

Dr. Jacek Siry, Graduate Coordinator
Office: 4-501
Phone: 706-542-3060

Kate deDufour, Graduate Program Administrator
Office: 1-217
Phone: 706-542-1183

Prospective students should also contact faculty members for questions specific to this disciplinary area. Please check faculty members’ personal pages for information about their individual research interests and projects to ensure that you are contacting the most relevant ones.

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My research interests include the effects of human land use activities, specifically forestry, agriculture, and urbanization, on water quality and aquatic habitat and the effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs) in reducing such nonpoint source pollution.  A particular current interest…

My scientific interests are directed at quantifying how nutrient and hydrologic cycles control the chemistry of forest soils, drainage waters, and forest productivity. My research focuses on the management of the soil resource in an effort to maximize forest growth and to maintain ecosystem…

Fluid flow and contaminant transport through surface and subsurface environments, focusing on the physical, chemical, mathematical, and statistical description and quantification of hydrologic processes.

Threatened aquatic species; water quality management in aquaculture and in fisheries biology.

Ecological impacts of harmful algal blooms in freshwater and marine systems on fish and wildlife. Watershed development, stormwater best management practices, and impacts on water quality. Toxic cyanobacteria, invasive plants, reservoir limnology, and Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy. Interactions…

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