Stephen B. Shaw | Environmental Resources Engineering | SUNY-ESF
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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
Stephen Shaw

Stephen B. ShawAssistant Professor

418 Baker Lab- 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12233-4757

Phone: 470-6939


  • CV (PDF)

Research Interests

I am currently working on a number of topics broadly falling under the umbrella of “impacts to water resources in a changing climate”. The topics are somewhat disparate (relative to the specificity of most researchers today), but the motivation behind the investigations is similar. Namely, there is a need to more carefully assess fundamental assumptions behind hydrologic processes being made in climate change impact studies.  

Particularly in assessing impacts due to climate change, researchers are often 1) focused on selecting GCM runs, downscaling, and linking to models that simulate local impacts or 2) focused on making estimates of change over broad geographic regions (e.g. entire U.S., entire world).  Thus, there is often limited time, energy, or interest in closely evaluating the more hydrologically oriented components of an expansive modeling project.  My research seeks to fill this gap and to highlight the potential dramatic misrepresentation of future changes (or at least the failure to acknowledge uncertainties) when processes are misrepresented.  

My standard approach is to use cross-comparisons among data sets from differing hydroclimatological regions to emphasize the distinct signature of certain outcomes in certain regions (be it crop yield, baseflow, relationship of maximum rainfall intensity to air temperature) and the differing underlying processes.    Instead of using a computational model that whose primary validation is an ability to simulate relatively simple time series (e.g. streamflow), I seek to develop simple models that explain differences between signatures of distinct processes in different hydroclimatological regions. 

Topics include:

  1. Are we misapplying Boussinesq theory when we explain streamflow recessions in watersheds that are not groundwater dominated?
  2. Is there really an upper limit to stream temperature in all streams, or is it only present in arid regions?
  3. Are changes in flood frequency due to climate change easier to predict in some regions compared to others?
  4. How much variability in historical annual corn grain yield can actually be explained by climate variability in different growing regions?
  5. Do forest canopy characteristics matter more than we think in estimating evapotranspiration from forested watersheds?
  6. Are changes in extreme rainfall in some regions due predominantly to thermodynamic effects while in others changes are due to a broad shift in underlying circulation?

I am always in search of enthusiastic graduate students or possible collaborators. Please email at if there is a topic that strikes your interest.


Fluid Mechanics - ERE 339 (Fall):
An introduction to fluid mechanics within the context of civil and environmental engineering. This includes the standard topics of hydrostatics, Bernoulli’s Equation, control volume analysis, drag, dynamic similitude, pipe flow, and open channel flow with some brief coverage of hydraulic machines and flow in porous media. In addition to teaching rigorous quantitative analysis of problems in fluid mechanics, the class strives to provide students with a strong conceptual understanding of fluid phenomenon.  

Hydrology in a Changing Climate- ERE 570 (Spring):
A graduate level class that uses recent academic literature to investigate how predicted global climate changes are being translated into local hydrologic changes.  The class explores the formulation of land-atmosphere interactions in GCMs, estimates of continental scale moisture redistribution, dominant atmospheric mechanisms that explain precipitation patterns, GCM downscaling methods, sources of uncertainty in GCMs, and approaches to developing water resource related adaptation plans under uncertainty. The intended outcome of the class is to give students the background to critically assess the reasonability of predictions of future changes in hydrology in different locales. 

Statics – GNE 271 (Fall):
Covers fundamentals of analysis of static systems including equlibrium in rigid bodies, distributed loads, and trusses. A portion of the class is spent on open-ended problem solving and engineering design.


Current Graduate Advisees

Current Graduate Advisees

Kadir GozKadir Goz

  • Degree Sought: MS in Environmental Resources Engineering
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Shaw
  • Undergraduate Institute: Suny College Brockport (Meteorology, Water R)

Graduate Research Topic
Flood risk and damage assessment

Favorite Quote
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” ~ Nelson Mandela

Casey HaltonCasey Halton

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Shaw
  • Area of Study: Water Resources Engineering
  • Undergraduate Institute: SUNY College New Paltz (Geochemistry)


Graduate Research Topic
I am currently assessing the practicality of terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) for evaluating short and long term changes in stream morphology and sediment loads. I am comparing TLS data collected in Oneida Creek and in McKinley Hollow (Catskill Mountains, New York) to LiDAR data as well as orthoimagery and digitized historical aerial imagery dating back as far as the 1930s.

Favorite Quote
Never let your fear decide your fate.

Casey Halton - LinkedIn Profile


Job NoelJob Noel

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Shaw
  • Area of Study: Water Resources Engineering

Personal Statement
Water is both a finite resource and a human right. Understanding this and the fact that steady population growth puts increased stress on its availability, makes the need to take action a high priority. I obtained my undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering at the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá (UTP) and worked at the Hydraulic and Hydrotechnical Research Center of the UTP, as a Researcher in water quality and quantity management, I have several practice experiences including working in research projects such as COL 07-036 Project "Monitoring the effect that specific rain events have on the quality of water supply sources for water treatment in the city of Panama" and conducted the project "Ocean Energy: roadmap and strategies for Panama ". Likewise, I developed my thesis study regarding the Pacora River basin, analyzing the spatial and temporal variation of water quality and assigning specific uses for the water resources in the study areas.

Favorite Quote
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13. "Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree" Martin Luther. "Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!" Audrey Hepburn.