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Conrad Heatwole

Associate Professor Emeritus


Ph.D., Agricultural Engineering, University of Florida, 1986

M.S., Agricultural Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1979

B.S., Agricultural Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1978


Professional Engineer, Commonwealth of Virginia (License No. 04020 21899)


January 2017 - present - Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

July 1992 - January 2017 – Associate Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

Jan - April 1996 -- Visiting Professor, Computational Sciences Dept,, Lincoln University, New Zealand

July 1986 - June 1992 - Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

Selected Major Awards

  • 2009 - Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence – Team Award to the Center for Watershed Studies
  • 2005 - Fulbright Senior Specialist in Environmental Science, Federal University of Espirito Santo, Vitoria, Brazil.

Courses Taught Last Five Years

  • BSE 4304 - Nonpoint source modeling and management
  • BSE 4984 - Water resources engineering and watershed management (6 cr, Brazil)
  • BSE 5244 - Advanced GIS for hydrologic analysis
  • BSE 5354 - Nonpoint source modeling

Other Teaching and Advising

  • Faculty-led, 6 credit summer study abroad course in Brazil that integrates Virginia Tech students with undergraduate engineering students from 3 Brazilian universities.
  • Coordinate bilateral exchange program with 3 Brazilian universities.  A grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education provides scholarships for BSE students for semester study in Brazil.

Program Focus

The issues of climate change, sustainability, biodiversity protection are global in scope, but often local in implementation and impact.  Water management and soil conservation are fundamental to maximizing the sustainable use of the land. Research focuses on the development and application of geospatial analysis tools for mapping, analysis and modeling of watershed hydrology and pollutant fate and transport from field to watershed scales.  Basic research questions focus on issues of process representation, spatial scaling, spatial variability, and parameter uncertainty.  The goal is to provide analysis tools for assessment and planning that can help guide cost-effective land use management to meet water quantity and quality goals.

Current Projects

  • Hydrology and sediment transport simulation using time-area method.  Development of a fully distributed modeling structure for evaluating landscape influences on runoff, erosion, and sediment delivery.  Calibration and uncertainty analysis are incorporated directly into the model implementation.
  • Developing models to characterize the impact of rural (unpaved) roads and trails on runoff and sediment delivery from a watershed.  A primary focus in this research is on conditions in less developed countries where limited road maintenance impacts economic and environmental cost to communities.
  • Fencing cattle from streams has important environmental benefits and economic and management impacts for farmers.  Lowering constraints on cost-share requirements and simplifying implementation criteria can make it much more attractive for farmers to adopt beneficial practices.  But do less stringent fencing standards significantly reduce benefits to the stream?   

Program Focus

Support outreach programs related to watershed management and practices to support sustainable land use and agriculture while improving water quality.

Current Projects

  • Adaptive stream fencing practices that encourage and support voluntary adoption of stream protection practices. Public education programs, support for increasing flexibility in state cost-share programs, and demonstration projects, all to help lower or remove barriers to adoption of improved practices.  

Selected Recent Publications

(* undergraduate student, ** graduate student, *** post-doc)

  • Resop J., J. Cundiff, C. Heatwole. 2011.  Spatial analysis to site satellite storage locations for herbaceous biomass in the Piedmont of the Southeast. Applied Engineering in Agriculture 27(1):25-32.
  • Betz R., N. Hitt, R. Dymond, C. Heatwole. 2010.  A method for delineating stream network topology over large geographic extents.  Journal of Spatial Hydrology 10(1):15-29.
  • Heatwole, C.D., V.K.W. Nyirongo**, Y. Her**. 2010.  Changes in landuse patterns in upland watersheds of Eastern Luangwa Valley, Zambia.  Paper presented at the 21st Century Watershed Technology Conference, 21-24 Feb 2010, Guapiles, Costa Rica. St. Joseph, Mich: ASABE.
  • Heatwole, C.D., M.J. Duff**, and M.A.C. Caiado.  2010.  Predicting erosion from unpaved roads in tropical watersheds: Comparison of models (abstract).  AWRA International Specialty Conference Tropical Hydrology and Sustainable Water Resources in a Changing Climate, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug 30-Sep 1.
  • Her, Y.**, C. Heatwole. 2010. A simple distributed overland and channel routing method for the Time-Area approach to develop direct runoff hydrograph.  ASABE Paper No. 1009391. St. Joseph, Mich.: ASABE.
  • Caiado** M.A.C., C.D. Heatwole. 2009.  Improved nutrient parameters for modeling diffuse pollution in the tropics. Transactions of the ASABE 52(3):845-849.
  • Alibuyog N., V. Ella, M. Reyes, R. Srinivasan, C. Heatwole,  and T. Dillaha.  2009.  Predicting the Effects of Land Use Change on Runoff and Sediment Yield in Manupali River Subwatersheds Using the SWAT Model. International Journal of Agricultural Engineering 18(1-2):15-25.

Selected Recent Funding

  • “Effective Strategies for Reducing Nutrient Loads from the Opequon Creek Watershed of Virginia and West Virginia”, PI: C. Heatwole(BSE), Co-PIs: B. Benham (BSE), C. Hession (BSE), M.L. Wolfe, K. Stephenson (AAEC), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, $1,000,000, 2006-2010.
  • “Adaptive and Community-based Strategies to Reduce Nutrient Loads from the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.” PI: C. Heatwole, E. Bendfeldt, B. Benham.. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. $800,000, 2008-2011.
  • “Water resources and watershed management in the U.S. and Brazil”. PI: C. Heatwole. U.S. Dept. of Education, $220,202. 2008-2012.