Retired Faculty




Recent work by Dr. Thomson:


-  In 2023 Dr. Thomson published op-eds in Maryland Matters and in the Virginia Mercury:


My major research interest has been the development of an individual-based theory of vegetaton dynamics. The focus of the research is to examine how basic physiological and morphological constraints operating at the level of the individual plant influence pattern and process at higher levels of organization (i.e., populations, communities and ecosystems). This interest has led me to pursue a variety of studies to address the mechanisms of plant pattern across a wide range of scales.


Areas of interest include the physiology and ecology of planktonic communities, including predator-prey relationships, trophic interactions at intermediate levels within the food chain, planktonic larval recruitment processes, and the dynamics of gelatinous macrozooplankton.

Recent activity has also focused on the oxygen/nutrient dynamics within Chesapeake Bay, nekton dynamics in tidal freshwater and barrier island environments, as well as innovative ways to transfer scientific information to policy and decision makers.


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 overall research interest is in watershed biogeochemical processes and identifying the hydrologic drivers of those processes.  More specifically, my research focuses on the status and trends of stream flow and stream-water quality in response to stressors, including air pollution, climatic variability, and anthropogenic land-use influences.


As  a meteorologist interested in understanding the chemistry of the non-urban troposphere, and how it may be changing as a result of anthropogenic impact, I use meteorological data (including satellite observations) and models to discern dynamical processes that influence or control atmospheric composition.  In several instances my students and I have also gone in the field, collecting data directly (e.g., from the balloon launches of ozonesondes over Charlottesville, Virginia; Sable Island, Nova Scotia; Boulder, Colorado; and Pellston Michigan; to the deployment of an NCAR boundary layer


Active projects examine the microbial transformations of contaminants and trophic transfer of energy through microorganisms. A main line of inquiry deals with bacteria in the subsurfce (groundwater) environment. Current projects include field and laboratory investigations of hydrological factors controlling the transient removal of agricultural nitrate in sediments of low-relief coastal streams, and the role of autotrophic microbes in the dissolution of carbonates in submerged caves.


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.


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