Francis J. Magilligan

Academic Appointments
  • The Frank J. Reagan '09 Chair of Policy Studies

  • Professor of Geography

  • Adjunct Professor of Earth Sciences

My teaching and research interests focus primarily on fluvial geomorphology and surface water hydrology. In particular, my research addresses stream channel and watershed response to environmental change – whether the change is generated by natural (e.g. climate change) or anthropogenic (e.g. agriculture, grazing, or logging) causes. For example, I have worked on the geomorphic impacts of catastrophic floods in the Upper Mississippi River as well as glacial outburst floods in Iceland. At a more local level, I have been analyzing the geomorphic impacts of Hurricane Irene that ravaged eastern Vermont in late summer 2011. Currently, I am focusing on the links between channel processes and riparian ecology, especially the role of flow regulation by dams on aquatic and floodplain ecology. This work was recently highlighted in a National Science Foundation online newsletter and PBS.

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Fairchild 017
HB 6017


  • B.A. Boston University
  • M.S. University of Wisconsin
  • Ph.D. University of Wisconsin

Selected Publications

  • Magilligan, F.J., James, L.A., Lecce, S., Dietrich, J.T., and Kupfer, J.A., 2018, Geomorphic responses to extreme rainfall, catastrophic flooding, and dam failures across an urban to rural landscape, Annals American Association of Geographers,

  • Magilligan, F.J., Sneddon, C.S., and Fox, C.A., 2018, The socio-geomorphology of river restoration: dam removal and the politics of place, In (eds.): M. Werner,‎ J. Peck,‎ R. Lave,‎ B. Christophers, Doreen Massey: Critical Dialogues, Columbia University Press, pp. 112 – 120.

  • Partridge, T.F., Winter, J.M., Osterberg, E.C., Hyndman, D.W., Kendall, A.D., and Magilligan, F.J., 2018,  Spatially distinct seasonal patterns and forcings of the U.S. Warming Hole, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1002/2017GL076463.

  • Wohl E., Brierley, G., Cadol, T., Coulthard, T., Covino, T., Fryirs, K., Grant, G., Hilton, T., Lane, Magilligan, F., Meitzen, K., Passalacqua, P., Pöppl, R., Rathburn, S., Sklar, L., 2018, Connectivity as an emergent property of geomorphic systems, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms,

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PBS Video of NSF-sponsored Dam Removal Research