An eroded gravel road following an extreme rain storm

At UVM we pursue the ambitious challenge of leveraging engineering knowledge and systems thinking to understand how humanity can optimally change our infrastructure and lifestyles to respond to climate change. Given the devastating consequences of climate change and natural and human-induced hazards, it is essential to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies to protect human lives, civil infrastructure and the environment. Our faculty’s research is at the forefront of developing technology and strategies to enable adaptation to climate change.


CEE faculty and student research in climate change impacts on natural and built infrastructure addresses key needs in infrastructure risk from water hazards (flooding & erosion), dam assessment, water resource structural monitoring, and precipitation and extreme event modeling.

Highlighted Research Projects & Initiatives

Lake Champlain Basin Resilience to Extreme Events

Three UVM researchers on a small boat holding up water quality sensorsVermont EPSCoR was awarded a new Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 award on June 1, 2016 for research on Lake Champlain Basin Resilience to Extreme Events (BREE). The research will inform public policy and support economic and workforce development. Research questions examine what makes some parts of the Lake Champlain Basin and its watersheds resilient in the face of extreme weather events, increasingly common in a warming Vermont, while other parts fail to recover and rebound. The award from the National Science Foundation will help answer those questions, providing much needed information to decision-makers as they govern the basin and develop policies that reach far into the future. The five-year project will support research teams from UVM and colleges across the state that will collect data from sensors in streams, soil, and the lake.


CEE Faculty: Arne Bomblies, Donna Rizzo, Scott Hamshaw, Mandar Dewoolkar, Elizabeth Doran, George Pinder

UVM Collaborators: Asim Zia, Chris Koliba, Carol Adair, Andrew Schroth, Beverley Wemple, Julia Perdrial, Bill Gibson, Patrick Clemins

Collaborating Institutions & Organizations: Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Lake Champlain Basin Program, EPA


Multi-Objective Optimization to Examine Tradeoffs in River Reconnection Projects

Graphic of HEC-RAS model simulation of flooding along a roadwayFloodplain and river reconnection projects show great promise to restore water quality, improve flood resilience and enhance habitats.  However, with the exponential availability of environmental sensors and associated information, resource managers and planners need decision-support tools to help identify the more effective locations and techniques for floodplain reconnection.  Our team is developing multi-objective optimization algorithms to assess multiple stakeholder criteria that prioritize suites of restoration or conservation projects at river network and basin scales. These algorithms may be wrapped around existing hydraulic models (2D HEC-RAS, HAND) or databases (VTANR stream geomorphic data sets) to evolve solutions that optimally meet flood resiliency and water quality goals while simultaneously addressing stakeholder needs. This research is being advanced under several projects supported by the VT Agency of Transportation, VT Department of Environmental Conservation, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, Lake Champlain Basin Program, and the VT Water Resources & Lake Studies Center.


CEE Faculty: Kristen Underwood, Donna Rizzo, Mandar Dewoolkar

UVM Collaborators: Rebecca Diehl, Beverley Wemple

Collaborating Institutions & Organizations: Vermont Agency of Transportation, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, Vermont Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy of Vermont, Gund Institute for Environment



Research Topics

  • Precipitation & extreme event modeling
  • Dam assessment
  • Water resource structural modeling
  • Infrastructure risk
  • Water hazards (flooding & erosion)

Graduate Study in Climate Change Impacts on Natural & Built Infrastructure

Highlighted courses are listed below:

  • CE370 – Reliability of Engineering Systems
  • CE218 – Numerical Methods for Engineering
  • CE260 – Hydrology
  • CE262 – Advanced Hydrology
  • CE369 – Applied Geostatistics