Research Assistant Professor

Kristen has more than three decades of academic and professional experience in water resources, bridging fields of aquatic ecology, fluvial geomorphology, hydrogeology and environmental engineering. Her current research involves the application of advanced computational tools to address environmental challenges in water resource management and to support pragmatic solutions within an adaptive management framework. She has used machine-learning algorithms and Bayesian inference to evaluate catchment dynamics and biogeochemical processing in rivers. Kristen has applied smart classifiers and Bayesian statistics, to better understand spatial and temporal variability in sediment and nutrient flux, to inform sustainable design of built and natural infrastructure for geomorphic and ecological compatibility, and to direct river corridor conservation and restoration activities for reduced flood losses. 


  • Underwood, K. L., Rizzo, D.M., Hanley, J.P., Sterle, G., Harpold, A., Adler, T., Wen, H., Li, L, Perdrial, J.   (2021). Machine-learning reveals heterogeneity in drivers of DOC streamflow concentration at continental scales. Water Resources Research (submitted).
  • Underwood, K. L., Rizzo, D.M., Dewoolkar, M.M., and Kline, M. (2021). Analysis of Reach-scale Sediment Process Domains in Glacially-conditioned Catchments Using Self-Organizing Maps. Geomorphology, doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2021.107684.
  • Shakun, J. D., L. B. Corbett, P. R. Bierman, K. Underwood, D. M. Rizzo, S. R. Zimmerman, M. W. Caffee, T. Naish, N. R. Golledge, C. C. Hay. (2018). Minimal East Antarctic Ice Sheet retreat onto land during the past 8 million years.  Nature, 558, 284- 287, doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0155-6.
  • Ross, D. S., B. C. Wemple, L. J. Willson, C. Balling, K. L. Underwood, and S. D. Hamshaw. (2018). Impact of an Extreme Storm Event on River Corridor Bank Erosion and Phosphorus Mobilization in a Mountainous Watershed in the Northeastern USA.  J. Geophys. Res. – Biogeosciences, doi:10.1029/2018JG004497.
  • Underwood, K. L., D. M. Rizzo, A. W. Schroth, M. M. Dewoolkar. (2017). Evaluating Spatial Variability in Sediment and Phosphorus Concentration-Discharge Relationships Using Bayesian Inference and Self-Organizing Maps. Water Resources Research, 53, doi: 10.1002/2017WR021353.
  • Howard, L. J., I. A. Anderson, K. L. Underwood, M. M. Dewoolkar, L. M. Deschaine, and D. M. Rizzo. (2016). Heuristic assessment of bridge scour sensitivity using differential evolution: case study for linking floodplain encroachment and bridge scour.  Environmental Systems Research, 5(20):  doi: 10.1186/s40068-016-0071-4.
Kristen Underwood

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

  • Catchment Dynamics
  • Fluvial Geomorphology
  • Clustering & Classification
  • Infrastructure & Hazard Mitigation
  • Bayesian Inference


  • Ph.D., Environmental Engineering, University of Vermont
  • M.S., Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University


  • 802-656-4571
Office Location:

207 Mansfield House

Courses Taught

  • Applied River Engineering
  • Environmental Site Characterization