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Tess Wynn Thompson

Associate Professor
  • Research areas: Ecological engineering; stream and wetlands restoration; urban stormwater management


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 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

  • "Cost-Effective Methods for Reducing Sediment Loads in Lick Run"  The goal of this study is to evaluate the use of stormwater management practices and/or stream restoration to reduce sediment loads to Lick Run, Roanoke, VA. 
  • "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.  
  • "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.  

Selected Recent Publications

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

  • Mahalder, Badal, John S. Schwartz, Theresa M. Wynn-Thompson, Angelica M. Palomino, and Jon Zirkle. 2022. Comparison of erodibility parameters for cohesive streambank soils between in situ jet test device and laboratory conduit flume. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering 148 (1): 1–14.
  • Smith, D.S.*, T.M. Wynn-Thompson, M.A. Williams, and J.R. Seiler. 2021. Do roots bind soil? Comparing the physical and biological role of plant roots in fluvial streambank erosion: A mini-JET study. Geomorphology, 375.
  • 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

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.