I’m Kieran, and I am a geomorphologist, meaning that I am interested in understanding why landscapes look the way they do. I’m currently a postdoctoral researcher in Rice Sedimentology Lab in the Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences at Rice University. My research investigates the fate and transport of fine-grained sediments in rivers as they approach the ocean. Rivers, particularly in lowland environments, transport large amounts of sediment in suspension which settles out of suspension as these rivers approach the ocean. This process is central to understanding the transport of sediment and nutrients off of continents and into the ocean, as well as to the development and evolution of deltaic, coastal and nearshore environments. By developing a mechanistic understanding of the physical and chemical controls on this aggregation process, we can begin to understand how these coastal and submarine environments will respond to external forcings such as sea level rise and changes in water chemistry and sediment supply due to anthropogenic activities.
Prior to my current position, I received my PhD from the Department of Earth & Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania. My dissertation research was focused around what controls the shape and size of rivers, specifically their width and depth. I worked with Professor Douglas Jerolmack to determine the effects of river bank cohesion on the cross-sectional geometry of sand and mud-bedded river channels.
My favorite bit of wisdom regarding the study of landscapes is that the truest beauty of nature is not the innumerable differences between places, but rather the similarities between them. From that perspective, I like to study the physical processes that govern the shape of landforms across a variety of scales and environments in an effort to build as unifying theory as possible for landscape forming and shaping processes.
In addition to my research, I have a longstanding interest in scientific communication and outreach. I believe that there are many benefits to society that come from as many people as possible being interested in understanding the science behind the world around them.
Email: kieran.dunne -at- rice.edu
Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005 USA