Brian D. Collins

Senior Lecturer, Part-Time
Department of Earth and Space Sciences
University of Washington
Box 351310
Seattle, WA 98195


I have Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in geoscience from the University of Washington and a B.A. in biology from Oberlin College.


I teach classes on rivers (Fluvial Geomorphology, ESS 426/526, Applied Fluvial Geomorphology, ESS 541), writing (Technical Communication in Applied Geosciences, ESS 518), and environmental history (Changing Rivers of Puget Sound, ESS/AIS/ENVIR 310).

I advise students in the applied geoscience M.S. degree program (Masters in Earth and Space Sciences, Applied Geosciences or "MESSAGe"), an 18-month program that includes coursework, an internship, and an applied investigation capstone.


I use concepts and tools from geomorphology--and from environmental history, ecology, and hydrology--to study the interacting physical, biotic, and human elements of rivers and their landscapes and how they change through time. Much of my work has application to natural resource and natural hazard management, environmental restoration, or climate change.

Current projects include: (a) with colleagues in engineering and geoscience, seeking to better understand sediment production, routing, and channel response with the goal of enhancing flood modeling capabilities; (b) with post-doc Dan Scott and collaborators at the US Forest Service, evaluating wood jam dynamics and geomorphic change for stream restoration; (c) in a mountainous, minority region of SW Sichuan Province, with colleagues in geoscience and anthropology, investigating how the last several hundred years of traditional and modern land uses have affected soil erosion, forest productivity, and sediment production; (d) data mining archival sources to reconstruct historical hydrology, channel geomorphology, and riverine habitats in the Puget Sound region.

Representative recent publications (*student author)

Collins, B.D., *Dickerson-Lange, S.E., *Schanz, S., *Harrington, S. 2019. Differentiating the effects of logging, river engineering, and hydropower dams on flooding in the Skokomish River, Washington. Geomorphology 332:138-156. (PDF).

*Schanz, S.A., Montgomery, D.R., Collins, B.D. 2019. Anthropogenic strath terrace formation caused by reduced sediment retention. Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences (PNAS). (PDF)

Collins, B.D., Dunne, T. 2019. Thirty years of tephra erosion following the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.

Pfeiffer, A., Collins, B.D., Anderson, S.W., Montgomery, D.R., Istanbulluoglu, E. 2019. River bed elevation variability reflects sediment supply, rather than peak flows, in the uplands of Washington State. Water Resources Research. (PDF)

 *Schanz S.A, Montgomery D.R., Collins B.D., Duvall, A.R. 2018. Multiple paths to straths: a review and re-assessment of terrace genesis. Geomorphology 312:12-23. (PDF)

Collins, B.D., Montgomery, D.R., *Schanz, S.A., *Larsen, I.J. 2016. Rates and mechanisms of bedrock incision and strath terrace formation in a forested catchment, Cascade Range, Washington. Geological Society of America Bulletin 128: 926-943. (PDF)

Collins, B.D., Montgomery, D.R., Fetherston, K.L., Abbe, T.B. 2012. The floodplain large-wood cycle hypothesis: a mechanism for the physical and biotic structuring of temperate forested alluvial valleys in the North Pacific coastal ecoregion. Geomorphology 139-140: 460-470. (PDF)

Collins, B.D., Montgomery, D.R. 2011. The legacy of Pleistocene glaciation and the organization of lowland alluvial process domains in the Puget Sound region. Geomorphology 126: 174-185. (PDF)

Stock, J.D., Montgomery, D.R., Collins, B.D., Dietrich, W.E., Sklar, L. 2005. Field measurement of incision rates following bedrock exposure: Implications for process controls on the long-profiles of valleys cut by rivers and debris flows. Geological Society of America Bulletin 117: 174-194. (PDF)

Collins, B.D., Montgomery, D.R., Sheikh, A.J. 2003. Reconstructing the historical riverine landscape of the Puget Lowland. Pp. 79-128 in: Montgomery, D.R., Bolton, S.M., Booth, D.B., Wall, L., eds., Restoration of Puget Sound Rivers, University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA. (PDF)

Collins, B.D., Montgomery, D.R. 2002. Forest development, wood jams and restora­tion of floodplain rivers in the Puget Lowland. Restoration Ecology 10: 237-247. (PDF)

Collins, B.D., Montgomery, D.R., Haas A.D. 2002. Historical changes in the distribu­tion and functions of large wood in Puget Lowland rivers. Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences 59: 66-76. (PDF)