Douglas M. Thompson

Douglas M. Thompson

Rosemary Park Professor of Geoscience and Environmental Studies
Suzi Oppenheimer '56 Faculty Director of the Office of Sustainability
Director of Environmental Studies Program

Joined Connecticut College: 1997

B.A., Middlebury College
M.S., Ph.D., Colorado State University







Civil engineering

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.

Douglas Thompson, Professor of Geology in the Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geophysics, Karla Heurich Harrison '28 Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment 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. 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.

Thompson has published many articles and he is the author of "The Quest for the Golden Trout: Environmental Loss and America’s Iconic Fish" (University Press of New England, 2013).

Visit Doug Thompson's "The Quest for the Golden Trout: Environmental Loss and America's Iconic Fish" website.

Professor Thompson teaches the following Environmental Studies/Geoscience courses: 120, Introduction to Environmental Geology; 201, Plate Tectonics; 202, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms; 210, Hydrology; 211; Weather and Climate; 315, River Environments; and 493d, Geologic Hazards and Humans Professor Thompson also offers a Freshman Seminars, FYS 118K, The Taming of American Rivers.

He is a member of the Geological Society of America (Fellow), American Geophysical Union, Geological Society of Connecticut, and the Native Fish Coalition (National Advisory Council).

Thompson was the Heurich Harrison Faculty Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment, and serves on the College's Environmental Model Committee.

View Doug Thompson's current research publications at Researcher ID.

Visit the environmental studies website and the physics department website, and review requirements for the geology minor. 

Visit the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment website.

Major in Physics.  

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.

Doug Thompson

Contact Douglas M. Thompson

Mailing Address

Douglas M. Thompson
Connecticut College
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


203 F. W. Olin Science Center