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James Knighton

Dr. James Knighton

Assistant Professor

Department of Natural Resources & the Environment

The University of Connecticut
1376 Storrs Road, Unit 4087
Storrs, CT 06269-4087

Room #331A
Phone (860) 486-4169
Fax: (860) 486-5408


Dr. James Knighton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at The University of Connecticut. Dr. Knighton received his Ph.D. in Biological and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University, his M.A. in Environmental Studies from University of Pennsylvania and his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Drexel University. He teaches courses in the area of watershed hydrology. 


Ph.D. 2019 Biological and Environmental Engineering Cornell University
M.A. 2013 Environmental Studies University of Pennsylvania
B.S. 2007 Civil Engineering Drexel University

Courses Taught

  • Undergraduate

    • BEE 4940/6940: Principles and Practices of Hydrologic Modeling (Cornell U.)
  • Graduate

    • BEE 6740: Ecohydrology (Cornell U.)
    • BEE 4940/6940: Principles and Practices of Hydrologic Modeling (Cornell U.)


Physical hydrology and ecology by integrating large datasets with physically-based hydrologic models and emerging data analytic techniques. Research focuses on specific application to critical topics in hydrology including: ecohydrological separation, hydraulic regular of transpiration by tree rooting structures, and climate downscaling.

Professional Experience

2020 – Present Assistant Professor, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
2019-2020 Postdoctoral Fellow, The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), Annapolis, MD 
2019 Research Associate, New York Water Resources Institute, Ithaca, NY 
2015 - 2019 Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant, Cornell University Dept. of Biological & Environmental, Ithaca, NY 
2013 - 2015 Flood Risk Division Research Associate, Enercon Services, Inc., Pittsburgh, PA 
2007 - 2013 Hydraulic & Hydrologic Engineer, Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia, PA 


Professional Engineer (Delaware License No.: 19216)

Publications and Awards

2018 National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center Postdoctoral Fellow

2017 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Horton Research Grant

Knighton J., Buchanan, B., Guzman, C., Elliott, R., Rahm, B. (2020). Predicting Flood Insurance Claims with Hydrologic and Socioeconomic Demographics via Machine Learning: Exploring the Roles of Topography, Minority Populations, and Political Dissimilarity. Journal of Environmental Management.

Knighton J., Kuppel, S., Smith, A., Sprenger, M., Soulsby, C., Tetzlaff, D. (2020). Using Isotopes to Incorporate Tree Water Storage and Mixing Dynamics into a Distributed Ecohydrologic Modelling Framework. Ecohydrology. DOI: 10.1002/eco.2201

Knighton, J., Singh, K., Evaristo, J. (2020). Understanding Catchment-Scale Forest Root Water Uptake Strategies across the Continental US through Inverse Ecohydrological Modeling. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1029/2019GL085937

Knighton J., Souter-Kline, V., Volkmann, T., Troch, P., Kim, M., Harman, C., Morris, C., Buchanan, B., Walter, M.T. (2019). Spatial and Topographic Variations in Ecohydrologic Separation in a Small, Temperate, Snow-Influenced Catchment. Water Resources Research. DOI:10.1029/2019WR025174

Knighton J., Coneelly, J., Walter, M. (2019). Possible Increases in Flood Frequency Due to the Loss of Eastern Hemlock in the Northeastern US: Observational Insights and Predicted Impacts. Water Resources Research. DOI: 10.1029/2018WR024395

Knighton J., Pleiss, G., Carter, E., Lyon, S., Walter, M.T., Steinschneider, S., (2019). Reproduction of Regional Precipitation and Discharge Extremes with Meso-Scale Climate Products via Machine Learning: An Evaluation for the Eastern CONUS. Journal of Hydrometeorology. DOI: 10.1175/JHM-D-18-0196.s1.

Knighton J., Tsuda, O,.Elliott R., Walter, M.T. (2018). Challenges to Implementing Bottom-Up Flood Risk Decision Analysis Frameworks: How Strong are Social Networks of Flooding Professionals? Hydrology and. Earth Systems Sciences. DOI: 10.5194/hess-2018-327.

Knighton J., Steinschneider, S., Walter, M.T. (2017). A Vulnerability-Based, Bottom-Up Assessment of Future Riverine Flood Risk Using a Modified Peaks-over-Threshold Approach and a Physically Based Hydrologic Model. Water Resources Research. DOI: 10.1002/2017WR021036

Knighton, J, Menzies, E., M. T. Walter. (2017). Evaluation of Topographic Wetness Guided Dairy Manure Application Schemes to Reduce Stream Nutrient Loading in SWAT. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejrh.2017.11.003

Knighton J., Saia, S., Morris, C., Archibald, J., Walter, M.T. (2017). Ecohydrologic Considerations for Modeling of Stable Water Isotopes in a Small Intermittent Watershed. Hydrological Processes. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.11194

Knighton J., DeGaetano, A., Walter, M.T. (2017). Hydrologic State Controls on Riverine Flood Hazard: Negative Feedbacks on the Effects of Climate Change. Journal of Hydrometeorology. DOI: 10.1175/JHM-D-16-0164.1

Knighton J., Walter, M.T. (2016). Critical Rainfall Statics for Predicting Watershed Flood Responses: Rethinking the Design Storm Concept. Hydrological Processes. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10888

Department of Natural Resources and the Environment
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of Connecticut
1376 Storrs Road, Unit 4087
Storrs, Connecticut 06269-4087
Phone: 860-486-2840