Biological & Environmental Engineering
Soil & Water Lab
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Brian Buchanan

Phone: 607-255-4992
Office: B62 Riley Robb Hall
Advisor: Todd Walter
Degree Program: MS/PhD


I received my bachelors of science from Colorado State University in 2000. Concurrent with my undergraduate studies, I worked at CSU’s aquatic ecology laboratory and at a local aquatic ecotoxicology firm. Subsequently, I worked for state, federal and non-profit agencies as a researcher and manager of natural resources and wildlife. My most recent work experience, as an ecohydrologist for two private consulting firms in Montana, piqued my interest in water resources and hydrology – prompting me to enroll in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell for further study.

My Current Research Projects and Interests

Stream Restoration

Over the past several years, I have been involved with a project concerning the evaluation of a local river restoration project through a combination of geomorphic and aquatic habitat surveys as well as hydraulic and sediment transport modeling.

Hydrologic Effects of Artificial Drainage Networks

My main research focus at this point is evaluating the effect of artificial drainage networks on watershed hydrology and pollutant transport. Our preliminary results indicate that artificial drainage networks (e.g. roadside ditches) substantially alter the hydrology of nearby natural receiving streams. Another key finding is that roadside ditches, in agricultural landscapes, are intercepting large quantities of surface and subsurface runoff from agricultural fields – and therefore represent efficient conduits for the transport of agricultural NPS pollutants to sensitive receiving waterbodies. Perhaps even more concerning, road ditches are often directly connected to agricultural fields via tile drains – which only serves to strengthen and expedite the hydrologic linkage. Through a combination of field data gathering and distributed hydrologic modeling we hope to better quantify these effects and to disseminate results to inform water resource policy.