Retired Faculty




Recent work by Professor Thomson:

- Professor Thomson’s specialty is environmental politics and policy. Her third book, Climate of Capitulation: An Insider’s Account of State Power in a Coal Nation (MIT Press, 2017), won a 2018 PROSE award in Government and Politics.


Herman H. (“Hank”) Shugart, Jr. is a systems ecologist whose primary research interests focus on the simulation modeling of forest ecosystems. He has developed and tested models of biogeochemical cycles, energy flow and secondary succession. In his most recent work, he uses computer models to simulate the growth, birth and death of each tree on small forest plots. The simulations describe changes in forest structure and composition over time, in response to both internal and external sources of perturbation.


I was initially trained as a marine geologist. My subsequent work over many years has explored several different aspects of the field of paleoclimate. My earliest research was on orbital-scale changes in North Atlantic sediments to reconstruct past sea-surface temperatures and to quantify the deposition of ice-rafted debris. I also studied the way that vertical mixing by sea-floor organisms smoothes deep-sea climatic records.


My research focuses on the chemical quality of surface water and the geochemistry of sediments. Measures are sought for the amount and sources of anthropogenic inputs of both major elements and trace elements into freshwater catchments and estuarine and deltaic depositional sites. Interest has been devoted largely to river and estuarine systems of the temperature zone, but also includes tropical systems, especially in Southeast Asia.


Pollutant emissions are significantly altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere and its impacts on other earth systems. My research focuses on resolving fundamental chemical and physical processes in the troposphere and differentiating anthropogenic and natural influences.


My research focuses on the complex interactions and constraints that govern the evolution of natural landscapes, including surfaces of other planets. This research combines field studies, theory, simulation modeling, and quantitative analysis. Field studies have included evolution of channels in badlands, the natural regime and man’s influence on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and the role of groundwater sapping in erosion of sandstone canyons in the southwest U.S..


My general field of interest is low-temperature aqueous geochemistry, encompassing problems in water-rock interactions, kinetics of geochemical reactions, and evolution of groundwater chemistry in various hydrogeological environments. My research includes elements of field studies, laboratory experimentation, and theoretical modeling. One research project is focused on the fate and transport of bacteria and organic contaminants in groundwater and is a collaborative effort with Messrs. Mills and Hornberger.


Convective storms, sometimes reaching into the stratosphere, play a major role in maintaining the heat balance of the atmosphere and in governing the vertical distribution of critical trace gases and aerosols. Work involving the coupling of the deeper atmosphere to the surface and boundary layers is being conducted over the tropical Atlantic and Pacific. Other studies, which capitalize upon knowledge of convective storms and the boundary layer, include global and regional rainfall, gaps in the rainforest and low-frequency sound transmission.


Prior to retirement in May 2018, my primary teaching interests were physical geology, landscape evolution, petrology, economic ore deposits, and environmental geology. I am also interested in the geology of Virginia and the tectonic evolution of the state and mid-Atlantic region, as well as the geology and ecology of US National Parks.

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