Welcome Nicholas Pinter

Nicholas Pinter

A nationally recognized expert in flood risks and management has joined the Center for Watershed Sciences, bringing to UC Davis a Midwestern perspective on rivers and plans for collaborating with river researchers worldwide. 

A geology professor, Nicholas Pinter arrives from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale where his research on natural hazards, geomorphology and flood hydrology took him to many distant lands, including the northern coast of Chile, south-central Europe and California’s Channel Islands.

Pinter said he hopes to expand the focus of the Center’s work beyond California to include rivers in the Midwest and elsewhere in the nation and abroad.

“The Center for Watershed Sciences has a California bent, which should stay there, but it is a world-class institution, so it should do world research,” he said.

“You work for a year in the Midwest and learn things you would never experience working in California alone,” he said. 

“Those large navigable rivers in the mid-continent – the Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio – are so intensely engineered than any modern-day flood essentially has to be considered a man-made flood. The level and speed of flows is controlled as much or more by the engineering history of those rivers than by the amount of rainfall or snowmelt upstream.”

Meanwhile, back out West, Pinter and Truman Young, a professor and restoration ecologist with the Department of Plant Sciences, are scheduled this coming winter quarter to teach the popular Ecogeomorphology of the Colorado River – Grand Canyon course open to graduate students across campus. 

Pinter currently is on El Niño watch. He is lining up research opportunities for students in the event this winter brings heavy precipitation to California.

“Having an El Niño event on the heels of last summer’s intense wildfires could be a setup for dramatic floods and landslides,” he said.

Pinter assumes the Roy J. Shlemon Chair in Applied Geosciences, previously held by Jeffrey Mount, the Center co-founder and now senior fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California.

Pinter lives in Davis with his wife Susann and their two teenage children. He is a competitive runner and (less competitive) triathlete and wears shorts on the job when he can. He will find plenty of company at the outdoorsy Watershed Sciences.