Professor of Geology in the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geophysics
Karla Heurich Harrison '28 Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment
Joined Connecticut College: 1997
B.A., Middlebury College; M.S., Ph.D., Colorado State University
Doug Thompson's research falls within the discipline of geology and the sub-discipline of fluvial geomorphology. Geomorphology is best defined as the study of the landforms and the natural processes responsible for their formation. Many of the geomorphic topics of interest include the landforms and processes associated with rivers, glaciers, landslides, beaches and arid regions. Fluvial geomorphology relates to the study of stream and river channels and the physical processes operating in these environments.
Professor Thompson's research is focused on understanding how flowing water and the resulting turbulence influence the physical channel characteristics created by these processes.
He is keenly interested in the formation and maintenance of the pool and riffle sequences. Pools and riffles, resulting from a combination of flood erosion and the process operating during average flow conditions, are major physical features in streams and provide some of the most important aquatic habitat. Visit the hydraulic flume research page.
Thompson maintains that it is important to understand the development of these physical environments to adequately protect aquatic species. Most of his field work is conducted in the coarse-bedded and high-gradient channels preferred by trout and salmon. These rivers tend to be characterized by high levels of turbulence and complex flow patterns that have important influences on channel shape and evolution.
Professor Thompson teaches the following Environmental Studies courses: 115, Introduction to Geology; 210, Hydrology; 310, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems; 314, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms; Geophysics 410, River Hydrology and Hydraulics; 494d, Geologic Hazards and Humans, and Physics 227, Fluid Mechanics.
He is a member of the American Geophysical Union, Association of American Geographers, Geological Society of America, International Association of Geomorphologists, and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers.
Thompson is the Heurich Harrison Faculty Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment, and serves on the College's Environmental Model Committee.
Visit the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment website.
"I am particularly interested in applying my research to help improve stream restoration projects. Many restoration projects are currently underway in an effort to protect environmentally sensitive fish species, including Atlantic salmon. I believe that a better understanding of the mechanisms operating in natural channel systems can lead to improvements in techniques used to protect and recreate aquatic habitat in rivers. "