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Joe Wheaton is an Associate Professor at Utah State University and a fluvial geomorphologist with over fifteen years of experience in river restoration. Joe's research is focused on better understanding the dynamics of riverscapes, how such fluvial processes shape instream and riparian habitats, and how biota modulate and amplify those processes. For example, some of Joe's research focuses on how the dam building activity of  beaver alter physical habitat for their own benefit, but also to the benefit of a slew of other fauna and flora. Much of Joe's work focuses on taking such understandings and translating them into useful applications. For example, Joe has helped pioneer the development of new stream restoration approaches (e.g. cheap and cheerful restoration techniques using beaver as a restoration agent), building larges scale monitoring programs that leverage the latest technologies (e.g. Columbia Habitat Monitoring Program and Big Rivers Monitoring Program), and building new analytical software apps (e.g. Geomorphic Change Detection Software) and simulation models (e.g. MORPHED, BRAT) to help scientists and practitioners alike.  Joe's work straddles the interface between physical and ecological sciences. Joe runs the Ecogeomorphology & Topographic Analysis Lab in Utah State University's Department of Watershed Science and his group is a leader in the monitoring and modeling of riverine habitats and watersheds. Joe is also co-owner of Anabranch Solutions, a consulting firm he, Steve Bennett and Nick Bouwes started in response to queries from practitioners needing help doing cheap and cheerful restoration.  He worked four years in consulting engineering before completing his B.S. in Hydrology (2002, UC Davis), an M.S. in Hydrologic Sciences (2003, UC Davis), and a Ph.D. in Geography (2008, University of Southampton, UK). He worked as a lecturer in Physical Geography (University of Wales 2006-08), Research Assistant Professor in Geology (Idaho State University, 2008-09) before becoming an Assistant Professor at Utah State University (2009-Present) where he teaches courses on  geomorphology, fluvial hydraulics, ecohydraulics, GIS, geomorphic change detection, and river restoration. 

In Short:

  • Born and raised in the Napa Valley of California, USA.
  • Started out studying and working in civil engineering, landuse planning and erosion control.
  • Got interested in watershed hydrology and completed bachelors degree in hydrology.
  • Started doing research on spawning habitat rehabilitation and fluvial geomorphology as an undergraduate and then went on to complete a masters degree in hydrologic sciences.
  • Wanted to continue doing research in fluvial geomorphology, but sought a different perspective; so, moved to England to do a PhD.
  • Joined Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences at the University of Wales Aberystwyth in January of 2006 as a Lecturer in Physical Geography
  • Joined Department of Geosciences at Idaho State University in August of 2008 as Visiting Assistant Professor in the Fall of 2008.
  • Joined Watershed Sciences at Utah State University of August of 2009 as an Assistant Professor


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