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Tess Wynn Thompson

Associate Professor
  • Turner Faculty Fellow


Ph.D., Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2004

M.S., Civil Engineering, North Carolina State University, 1995

B.S., Agricultural Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1992


July 2011- Associate Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg

July 2004 – June 2011 – Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg

August 1998 – May 2004 - Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg

May 1996 – June 1998 - Field Coordinator/Extension Associate, Maryland Cooperative Extension, Frederick, MD

March 1995 – May 1996 - Senior Staff Engineer, Woodward-Clyde, Gaithersburg, Maryland

March 1994 – March 1995 - Environmental Modeler, North Carolina Division of Environmental Management, Raleigh, NC

August 1992 – March 1994 - Graduate Research Assistant, Civil Engineering, NC State University, Raleigh

Selected Major Awards

  • Turner Faculty Fellow, 2015-2020
  • Outstanding Faculty Member, Alpha Epsilon, 2005
  • Graduate Dissertation Award of Merit, Gamma Sigma Delta, 2005
  • 1st place, PhD poster competition, Torgersen Graduate Research Awards, 2004
  • Outstanding Graduate Student, College of Engineering, 2001-2002
  • Outstanding Graduate Student, BSE Department, 2000-2001
  • EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship, 1999-2002
  • Member Gamma Sigma Delta, Alpha Epsilon, Tau Beta Pi
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 1992-1995
  • Virginia Tech 1992 Woman of the Year

Courses Taught Last Five Years

  • BSE 3324: Small Watershed Hydrology
  • BSE 3504: Transport Processes in Biological Systems Engineering
  • BSE 5364:  Stream Restoration
  • BSE 4324/5324G: Fluvial Geomorphology


Other Teaching and Advising

I serve as the faculty advisor for the VT student branch of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).  I also served as the Assistant Department Head for Undergraduate Studies for the BSE department during 2012-2018.

Program Focus

The overarching goal of my research program is to protect and restore stream and wetland systems, with three major objectives: 1) to determine the fundamental processes involved in streambank erosion and to develop improved measurement devices and mathematical models to predict erosion rates; 2) to develop more accurate computational models and software for the design of wetland systems; and, 3) to develop methods to minimize the impact of urbanization on stream ecosystems.

Current Projects

  • “Wetland Water Budget Modeling” – this multidisciplinary project funded by the Piedmont Wetlands Research Program focuses on the development of a wetland water budget model to improve the success of mitigation wetlands.
  • "Effectiveness of Low Impact Development in Protecting Channel Stability" - funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the project goal is to use a watershed model (SWMM) and a reach-scale channel morphology model (CONCEPTS) to assess the effectiveness of environmental site design in reducing channel erosion downstream from urban development.  
  • "Evaluating streambank retreat prediction using the BANCS model in the Valley and Ridge physiographic province" - The goal of this project is to evaluate bank retreat predictions made using the BANCS model and to assess the sensitivity of the model to spatial and temporal variability in bank retreat measurements.
  • "Do roots bind soil?  Comparing the physical and biological role of roots in fluvial streambank erosion resistance." - The goal of this research is to quantify the relative contributions of the physical and biochemical aspects of soil reinforcement by plant roots.
  • "Impact of bioretention on stormwater thermal load" - This study evaluates changes in stormwater runoff temperature and thermal load following treatment by bioretention cells.
  • "Improving the Success of Stream Restoration Practices" - The goal of this project is to improve our understanding of the conditions under which stream restoration practices “fail,” with the long term goal of improving the overall application, design, and review of stream restoration projects.  

Selected Recent Publications

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

  • Ketabchy, M.**, D.J. Sample, T. Wynn-Thompson, and M.N. Yazdi**.  2019 . Simulation of watershed-scale practices for mitigating stream thermal pollution due to urbanization. Science of The Total Environment, 671, 215–231. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.03.248
  • Akinola, A.I.**, T. Wynn-Thompson, C. G. Olgun, S. Mostaghimi, and M. J. Eick. 2019. Fluvial erosion rate of cohesive streambanks is directly related to the difference in soil and water temperatures. Journal of Environmental Quality 48:1741-1748. doi:10.2134/jeq2018.10.0385
  • Ketabchy, M.**, D.J. Sample, T. Wynn-Thompson, M.N. Yazdi**.  2018.  Thermal evaluation of urbanization using a hybrid approach.  Journal of Environmental Management 226:457-475.  doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.08.016
  • Akinola, A.I.**, T. Wynn-Thompson, C.G. Olgun, F. Cuceoglu**, S. Mostaghimi.  2018.  Influence of sample holding time on the fluvial erosion of remolded cohesive soils.  Journal of Hydraulic Engineering 144(8): 04018049.  doi:10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0001504.
  • Waller, L.J.**, G.K. Evanylo, L-A.H. Krometis, M.S. Strickland, T. Wynn-Thompson, B.D. Badgley. Engineered and environmental controls of microbial denitrification in established bioretention cells.  Environmental Science & Technology 52(9): 5358-5366. doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b06704 
  • Allen, D.C.***, T.M. Wynn-Thompson, D.A. Kopp**, B.J. Cardinale. 2018.  Riparian plant biodiversity reduces stream channel migration rates in three rivers in Michigan, USA.  Ecohydrology 11: e1972.  doi:/10.1002/eco.1972 
  • Hoomehr, S.***, A.I. Akinola**, T. Wynn-Thompson, W. Garnand**, and M. Eick. 2018.  Water temperature, pH, and road salt impacts on the fluvial erosion of cohesive streambanks.  Water 10(3): 302.  doi:10.3390/w10030302
  • Billian, H.**, L.H. Krometis, T. Thompson, and C. Hagedorn. 2018. Movement of traditional fecal indicator bacteria and source-tracking targets through septic drainfields. Science of the Total Environment  610-611: 1467-1475.  doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.131
  • Smyntek P.***, R. Wagner R, L.H. Krometis, S. Carvajal, T. Wynn-Thompson, and W. Strosnider.  2018.  Passive biological treatment of mine water to reduce conductivity: Potential designs, challenges, and research needs.  Journal of Environmental Quality 46(1): 1-9.
  • Willard L.**, T. Wynn-Thompson, L.H. Krometis, T. Neher**, and B. Badgley.  2017.  Does it pay to be mature? Assessing the performance of a bioretention cell seven years post-construction.  Journal of Environmental Engineering 143(9): 04017041. 
  • Hopkinson, L.C.** and T.M. Wynn-Thompson.  2016.  Comparison of direct and indirect boundary shear stress measurements along vegetated streambanks.  River Research and Applications 32: 1755-1764.
  • Allen, D.C.***, B.J. Cardinale, and T.M. Wynn-Thompson. 2016.  Plant biodiversity effects in reducing fluvial erosion are limited to low species diversity.  Ecology 97(1): 17-24.
  • Allen, D.C.***, B.J. Cardinale, and T.M. Wynn-Thompson. 2014.  Integrating ecological principles into interdisciplinary ecogeoscience research.  BioScience 64(5): 444-454.
  • Resop, J.P.**, W.C. Hession, and T.M. Wynn-Thompson. 2014.  Quantifying the parameter uncertainty in the cross-sectional dimensions for a stream restoration design of a gravel-bed stream.  Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 69(4): 306-315.
  • Niezgoda, S.L., P.R.Peter R. Wilcock, D.W. Baker, J. Mueller Price, J.M. Castro, J.C. Curran, Theresa Wynn-Thompson, J.S. Schwartz, and F.D. Shields, Jr. 2014.  Defining a stream restoration body of knowledge as a basis for national certification.  Journal of Hydraulic Engineering 140: 123-136.


Selected Recent Funding

  • A case study for prioritizing stream restoration efforts in the City of Roanoke.  Thompson, T., W.C. Hession, and S. Entrekin.  $68,250.  City of Roanoke.  2020-2021
  • Effectiveness of stormwater management practices in protecting stream channel stability.  Wynn-Thompson, T., D. Sample, and A. Miller.  $177,555. Chesapeake Bay Trust.  2019 to 2020.
  • Improving the success of stream restoration practices.  Wynn-Thompson, T. and E.P. Smith  $217,322.  Chesapeake Bay Trust.  2019 to 2020.
  • Improving the success of in-stream structures.  Wynn-Thompson, T.  $88,075.  Chesapeake Bay Trust.  2015-2017.
  • Badgley, B., T. Thompson, and G. Evanylo. $117,402. Opening the ‘black box’ in bioretention cells: how does understanding of microbial ecology translate to improved performance? ICTAS.  2014-2016.
  • Wynn-Thompson, T. and M. Eick. $45,624 Physicochemical effects of temperature and water chemistry on streambank erosion.  Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. 2012-2013.
  • Wynn, T. $76,458. Development of a Wetland Vegetation Hydraulic Properties Database Piedmont. Wetlands Research Program. 2011-2012.
  • Wetland Water Budget Modeling. W.L. Daniels, T.M. Wynn, and R. Whittecar. $1,588,256. Piedmont Wetlands Research Program. 2008-2018.
  • Hession, W.C., B. Benham, W.L. Daniels, G. Evanylo, LA. Krometis, D. Scott, T. Wynn, E. Hester, K. McGuire, W. Aust, F. Benfield, D. Orth. Stroubles Research, Education, and Management Site (StREAMS) laboratory. $43,327. CALS Integrated Internal Competitive Grants Program. 2011.
  • Hodges, S., J. Cundiff, J. Fike, J. Galbraith, J. Ignosh, J. Pease, R. Grisso, T. Wynn, J. Campbell, J. McGee, S. McGinnis, S. Prisley, W. Thomason. VT Integrated Bioenergy Team. $35,000. CALS Integrated Internal Competitive Grants Program. 2011.
  • Stremler, M., J.R. Kuhn, P.P. Vlachos, R.V. Davalos, S.D. Ross. IGERT: MultiScale Transport in Environmental and Physiological Systems (MultiSTEPS). $3,000,000. National Science Foundation. 2010-2015.Wynn Thompson is a Faculty Participant.