Skip Navigation
Return to Layout View | Home | A-Z Directory | my UMaine | MaineStreet | Campus Map | Calendar
Follow UMaine on Twitter | Join UMaine on Facebook | Watch UMaine on YouTube | Admissions | Parents & Family | Emergency

School of Earth and Climate Sciences

Site Navigation:

Sean M.C. Smith

Related Links:

Assistant Professor


Contact Information
Phone: 207-581-2198
Fax: 207-581-2202

School of Earth and Climate Sciences
5790 Bryand Global Sciences Center
Room 213

Related Web Sites


The Watershed Process and Sustainability Research Group (WPS or “WHOOPS!” for short) is out and about, wading through beautiful streams in central and coastal Maine. The team is making measurements to quantify water flow, water quality loads, stream channel stability, and headwater runoff patterns in Acadia, Wells, Damariscotta, Sebago, and other locations Downeast. The field measurements and desktop analyses that use the data are driven by several research projects focused on solutions to coastal bacteria pollution problems, development of better predictors of watershed runoff delivery patterns, and identification of stream impacts from land use alterations and climate change.

What do headwater streams in Maine look like and how do they change over time? Where do streams in coastal Maine watersheds begin? How do coastal watersheds respond to rainfall and what landscape characteristics influence pollutant delivery to tidal estuaries? Better numbers on streams and the flows they carry will help resource managers make decisions to protect Maine’s streams, rivers, lakes and estuaries. Here are shots from our recent travels!



In the News

“Job Well Done” to Caroline Carrigan who wrapped up her summer research project focused on coastal watershed erosion with the Sea Fellows program at the Darling Marine Center last   Carrigan Poster_Sea Fellows_20160811_133202week. Caroline presented a poster summarizing results from her project, Surface Flow Patterns and Process in Coastal Maine Settings. As an EES student, Caroline became interested in watershed processes through her participation in the ERS Freshwater Flows course last spring. She used information from that course to link rainfall, watershed runoff and erosion in coastal areas using a mix of hydrologic modeling, field sampling and sediment transport calculations. Way to go Caroline!

CONGRATULATIONS TO BRETT GERARD for being selected for the Michael J. Eckardt Dissertation Fellowship Award for the 2016-17 school year! The award letter specifically identifies Brett’s selection as recognition of his outstanding academic performance. Great job Brett!  😎

As of February 1, 2016, the Watershed Process and Sustainability Research Group (WPSRG) is now a proud contributor to the Maine Cooperative Snow Survey Program!

McLaughlin, R. 2015. Two contrasting views of stream sediment sources. Environmental Connection (publication of the International Erosion Control Assn.), Vol. 9, Issue 3, pp. 8-9.

McDermott, A. 2015. Scientists develop new tools to anticipate coastal pollution in Maine  AGU Geospace Blogosphere (12/30/15)

The Future of Dams  University of Maine News (8/10/15)

Student Research Spotlight: Looking for Warning Signs Beneath the Surface  Sen. George J. Mitchell Center News (2/18/15)

Publication finds upland sources contribute to sediment loads  Sen. George J. Mitchell Center News (1/29/15)

Researchers raft down Penobscot River to map changes  Aislinn Sarnacki, Bangor Daily News (6/25/14)

Maine Water Conference 2014 – Poster Session Honorable Mention:  Van Dam, B,  S. Smith, A. Reeve, B. Gerard. Hydrologic Implications of Upland Microtopography in Post-Glaciated Maine

Recent Publications

Buscombe, D., P.E. Grams, S.M.C. Smith. 2015. Automated riverbed sediment classification using low cost side-scan sonar. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, doi:  10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0001079 , 06015019.

Filoso, S., S.M.C. Smith, M.R. Williams, and M.A. Palmer. 2015. The Efficacy of Constructed Stream–Wetland Complexes at Reducing the Flux of Suspended Solids to Chesapeake Bay. Environmental Science and Technology. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00063

Parr, T.B., C.S. Cronin, T. Ohno, S.E.G. Findlay, S.M.C. Smith, and K.S. Simon. 2015. Urbanization changes the composition and bioavailability of dissolved organic matter in headwater streams. Limnology and Oceanography, doi: 10.1002/lno.10060

Smith, S.M.C. and P.R. Wilcock. 2015. Upland Sediment Supply and its Relation to Watershed Sediment Delivery in the Contemporary Mid-Atlantic Piedmont (U.S.A.), Geomorphology, Vol. 232, pp. 33-46,

Research Focus and History

My teaching and research focuses on watershed geomorphology with attention to processes that influence the morphology and stability of hillslopes and waterways, and that govern the flux of water, sediment and nutrients in the contemporary landscape. Topics of my past and present research include stream channel morphology and stability, surface flow patterns in headwater drainage basins, watershed sediment budgets, and modern watershed best management and rehabilitation practices. I am particularly interested in projects seeking to identify, quantify and explain changes to landscapes caused by human activities.

Much of my work is inspired by interests in advancing the measurement, description and prediction of environmental impacts across spatial scales ranging from single hillslopes to large watersheds and time scales spanning from a single rainfall event to millennia. I have extensive experience working in the Mid-Atlantic region of North America in collaboration with partners involved with the USEPA Chesapeake Bay Program. I have a joint appointment with the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions and affiliation with the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station (MAFES).

Ongoing activities include participation in multiple interdisciplinary projects:

These projects involve faculty, post-doctoral researchers, graduate students, and undergraduate research assistants that comprise the School of Earth and Climate Science’s Watershed Process and Sustainability Research Group working in collaboration with multiple colleagues, government agencies, and project stakeholders in Maine and beyond.


Photos from the field….

Back to Faculty and Postdocs

Additional Links

Contact Information

School of Earth and Climate Sciences
5790 Bryand Global Sciences Center
Orono, ME 04469-5790
Phone: (207) 581-2152 | Fax: (207) 581-2202E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469