Graduate Students

Kurt Imhoff

Kurt Imhoff

M.S. Candidate

Office: CHCB 338


GEO 102: Introduction to Geology (Lab)


B.S. Environmental Science (Water Science and Resources) Oregon State University. Spring 2013.

M.S. Geosciences Candidate, University of Montana. Expected Graduation Summer 2015.

Research Interests

My research interests are focused on the physical and biotic mechanisms at work shaping riverine ecosystems. From a geomorphic perspective, this includes regional climatic influences on hydrology, sediment delivery to fluvial systems, and the ways by which sediment moves downstream. I am currently concentrating on how sediment routes through confluences in the headwaters of a gravel-bed river, with attention given to the dispersal of coarse sediment bodies through these areas. Our understanding of dispersal through confluences, and the effects of confluences on larger network-scale transport, is limited and lacks sufficient field data to pair with our qualitative understanding. By employing sediment tracers in various locations through a river headwaters I hope to begin the process of elucidating how sediment routes through coarsely-grained confluences.

I am secondarily intrigued by the feedbacks between geomorphic processes in rivers and the ecosystems that reside in them. In the Pacific Northwest, considerable attention has been given to habitat types (and factors affecting their formation or destruction) ideal for salmonid spawning and rearing. This sort of work is especially important as local changes in temperature, fire regime, snowpack dynamics, and land use will further alter landscapes and their component rivers in ways that will directly impact salmon and other freshwater species. I hope to one day direct my research pursuits in a direction that investigates the effects of geomorphic regime changes on aquatic ecosystems.

As air temperatures warm and snowpacks decline, headwater streams become ever-more critical habitat for coldwater aquatic species

As air temperatures increase and hydrologic regimes change, headwater streams are becoming ever-more crucial refugia for coldwater species

Field of Study

Fluvial geomorphology, aquatic ecology

Thesis: Sediment routing through channel confluences: RFID tracer experiments from a gravel-bed river headwaters
My project investigates processes of sediment transport through tributary junctions (confluences) to better understand grain-specific transport in coarse gravel-bed rivers and how confluences influence network-scale sediment dispersion patterns. This work will hopefully be paired with ongoing regional fisheries research to correlate confluence morphology to habitat quality for aquatic organisms.

Scanning for tagged sediment tracers at Moose Creek, MT

Scanning for tagged particle tracers in Moose Creek, MT

Tagged cobble tracer (center, with a white epoxy spot) embedded in the Moose-Martin Creek confluence

Underwater image of a tagged tracer (center, with white epoxy spot) after being mobilized into a study confluence

Professional Experience

Research Intern, Ecology Group, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Richland, WA. June 2010 - August 2013 (seasonal)


It's vital to balance work with play, and I love to recreate whenever possible. In town I enjoy reading, watching baseball, and going out for a beer after the work day. When I can get away, hiking, fly fishing, and skiing/snowshoeing are my favorite things to do. I also enjoy non-technical (scramble) mountaineering, berry picking, swimming, and boating. I had the good fortune of being introducted to wilderness at a young age by my father, and have grown up seeking wild places ever since. Some mid-size (~50,000 - 150,000 acre) wilderness areas in the south-central Cascades of Washington State are especially dear to me: the Goat Rocks, Norse Peak, and William O. Douglas. As an aside, I enjoy studying and learning about the history and management of Wilderness Areas by the USFS and BLM.

South Fork Tieton Meadows, WA

Early morning in the South Fork Tieton Basin, Goat Rocks Wilderness, WA