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Durelle Scott

  • Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Studies
  • Research areas: Material fate and transport through streams and wetlands
Durelle Scott, Virginia Tech Department of Biological Systems Engineering Faculty
202A Seitz Hall


Ph.D., Civil Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2001

M.S., Civil Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1997

B.S., Civil Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1996


August 2023-present

August 2014 –July 2023 - Associate professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

August 2008 – July 2014 - Assistant professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

August 2005 – July 2008 - Assistant professor, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

2003 - 2005 - National Research Council Fellowship at the U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia.

2001  -2003 - Landcare Research Fellowship, New Zealand

Courses Taught Last Five Years

  • BSE 3144 - Numerical Analysis
  • BSE 3124 - Green Engineering
  • BSE 5214 - Field Methods in Hydrology

Other Teaching and Advising

I currently serve as an advisor to several undergraduate students, and mentor my own graduate students.

Program Focus

Water sustainability is a huge issue - we need more food to feed an ever increasing population, but are compromising our natural resources. Water is one resource that is intimately connected to both food and energy. My primary goal is to improve our nation’s water quality through research and education. Our group focuses on quantifying how natural systems behave in the face of change, and then applying/adapting this knowledge into workable solutions (e.g. improved stream/wetland restoration). 

Current Projects

  • Deglaciation effects on Hydroecology: Glaciers are thinning across the world, which in turn will cause dramatic changes in material fluxes through the landscape. We are exploring how the magnitude and timing of material fluxes will change in a series of glaciated catchments in southeast Alaska.
  • Small Watershed Hydroecology: Small, forested watersheds provide a large ecosystem service: buffering of downstream nutrient loads. Within the landscape, stream ecosystems are one component where nutrient retention may occur. Our current project seeks to understand the temporal variability in carbon and nitrogen transformations within streams channels located within headwater forested catchments.
  • Floodplain / Stream Restoration - StREAM: The project brings together scientists/educators in CALS and the greater Virginia Tech community to develop a nationally recognized research facility that can be used to attract major competitive funding, improve undergraduate and graduate teaching, and enhance outreach opportunities.
  • Freshwater Diversions: Here we are exploring the use of freshwater diversions in managing excess nutrient fluxes to downstream ecosystems. Our current work is based in the Atchafalaya River Basin in Louisiana.
  • Floodplain Ecohydrology: Floodplains represent a biologically diverse hotspot on the landscape. These regions may serve to buffer downstream nutrient loads. We are exploring the use of floodplains as bioreactors, from understanding the basic hydrology and biogeochemistry to how ecological services within these zones will change in response to a varying climate. Together, we seek to use this understanding to inform stream and riparian restoration.

Selected Recent Publications

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

  • Scott, D., R. Keim, N. Jones, B. Edwards, D. Kroes, A. Nyman, R. Cook. Nutrient Retention within the Atchafalaya Basin Floodway System in the 2011 flood, Abstract B24D-04 presented at 2011 Fall Meeting, AGU, San Francisco, Calif., 5-9 Dec.
  • Vidon, P., C. Allan, D. Burns, T. Duval, N. Gurwick, S. Inamdar, R. Lowrance, J. Okay, D. Scott, S. Sebestyen, 2010. Hot spots and hot moments in riparian zones: potential for improved water quality management. Journal of the American Water Resources.
  • D. Scott, J. Harvey, R. Alexander, and G. Schwarz. Dominance of organic nitrogen from headwater streams to large rivers across the conterminous U.S., 2007. Global Biogeochemical Cycles: 21, doi:10.1029/2006GB002730.
  • E. Hood and D. Scott. 2008. Riverine dissolved organic matter and nutrient yields in southeast Alaska affected by glacial coverage. Nature Geosiences, doi:10.1038/ngeo280.
  • D. Scott, W. T. Baisden, R. Davies-Colley, B. Gomez, D. M. Hicks, M. J. Page, N. J. Preston, N. A. Trustum, K. R. Tate, and R. A. Woods. 2006. Localized erosion affects national carbon budget, Geophysical research letters, 33, doi:10.1029/2005GL024644.

Selected Recent Funding

  • Collaborative Research: Evolution of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) from the headwaters to the catchment outlet: sources, variation with scale, and differences with DOC. 10/08 – 9/11, $138458, 0.5 summer months per year, NSF, location: Delaware.
  • RUI: Collaborative Research: How does changing glacial coverage affect the transport and fate of DOM and nutrients in coastal watersheds on the Gulf of Alaska?. 4/09 – 3/12, $177000, 0.5 summer months per year, NSF, location: Alaska.
  • RAPID: The 2011 Historic High Flows in the Atchafalaya Basin: How will Hydrologic transport Alter Nutrient Retention (C and N)?, 6/1/11 – 5/31/12, PI, $17,617, NSF, location: Louisiana.
  • Helping Streams Help Themselves: Restoring Sustainable and Distributed Water Pollution Attenuation, 3/11 – 2/14, co-PI, $300,998, 0.5 summer months per year, NSF, location: Virginia.