Diane McKnight
Distinguished Professor
Environmental Engineering • Engineering Science

Office: SEEC S254C


  • B.S. Mechanical Engineering, MIT (1975)
  • M.S. Civil Engineering, MIT (1978)
  • Ph.D. Environmental Engineering, MIT (1979)

Honors and Distinctions:

  • Distinguished Lecturer for Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP), 2019-2020
  • Distinguished Professor University of Colorado Boulder
  • Robert Horton Medal, American Geophysical Union
  • John Dalton Medal, European Geophysical Union
  • American Geophysical Union, Hydrology Career Award
  • Distinguished Research Lectureship, CU-Boulder
  • US Geological Survey: Meritorious Service Award
  • American Geophysical Union: Fellow
  • National Academy of Engineering: Member
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science: Fellow
  • Humic Sciences and Technology Conference XI: Honorary Chair
  • American Geophysical Union: Langbein Lecturer

Professional Affiliations:

  • International Humic Substances Society
  • American Society of Limnology and Oceanography
  • American Geophysical Union
  • Society of Freshwater Science
  • American Chemical Society
  • Phycological Society of America


  • Limnology, aquatic ecology, reactive transport of metals and organic material in streams and rivers

Recent Publications:

  1. Kohler, T.J., Singley, J.G., Wlostowski, A.N., McKnight, D.M.,. Nitrogen fixation facilitates stream microbial mat biomass across the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Biogeochemistry (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-023-01069-0
  2. Watson, K.E.; McKnight, D.M. Riparian Bird Occupancy in a Mountain Watershed in the Colorado Mineral Belt Appears Resilient to Climate-Change-Driven Increases in Metals and Rare Earth Elements in Water and Aquatic Macroinvertebrates. Diversity 2023, 15, 712. https:// doi.org/10.3390/d15060712
  3. Egan, J. K., McKnight, D. M., Bowman, M. M., SanClements, M. D., Gallo, A. C., Hatten, J. A., & Matosziuk, L. M. (2023). Identifying photochemical alterations of dissolved pyrogenic organic matter using fluorescence spectroscopy. Aquatic Sciences, 85(2). doi:10.1007/s00027-022-00919-7
  4. Chin, Y. -P., McKnight, D. M., D’Andrilli, J., Brooks, N., Cawley, K., Guerard, J., . . . Reckhow, D. (2023). Identification of next-generation International Humic Substances Society reference materials for advancing the understanding of the role of natural organic matter in the Anthropocene. Aquatic Sciences, 85(1). doi:10.1007/s00027-022-00923-x
  5. Sherwell, S., Kalra, I., Li, W., McKnight, D. M., Priscu, J. C., & Morgan-Kiss, R. M. (2022). Antarctic lake phytoplankton and bacteria from near-surface waters exhibit high sensitivity to climate-driven disturbance. ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, 16 pages. doi:10.1111/1462-2920.16113
  6. Torrens, C. L., Gooseff, M. N., & McKnight, D. M. (2022). Dissolved Organic Carbon Chemostasis in Antarctic Polar Desert Streams. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-BIOGEOSCIENCES, 127(7), 17 pages. doi:10.1029/2021JG006649
  7. Gaiser, E. E., Kominoski, J. S., McKnight, D. M., Bahlai, C. A., Cheng, C., Record, S., . . . Sutter, L. A. (2022). Long-term ecological research and the COVID-19 anthropause: A window to understanding social-ecological disturbance. ECOSPHERE, 13(4), 21 pages. doi:10.1002/ecs2.4019
  8. Schulte, N. O., Khan, A. L., Smith, E. W., Zoumplis, A., Kaul, D., Allen, A. E., . . . McKnight, D. M. (2021). Blowin' in the wind: Dispersal, structure, and metacommunity dynamics of aeolian diatoms in the McMurdo Sound region, Antarctica. JOURNAL OF PHYCOLOGY, 58(1), 36-54. doi:10.1111/jpy.13223
  9.  Petach, T. N., Runkel, R. L., Cowie, R. M., & McKnight, D. M. (2021). Effects of hydrologic variability and remedial actions on first flush and metal loading from streams draining the Silverton caldera, 1992-2014. HYDROLOGICAL PROCESSES, 35(11), 15 pages. doi:10.1002/hyp.14412
  10. Straight, B. J., Castendyk, D. N., McKnight, D. M., Newman, C. P., Filiatreault, P., & Pino, A. (2021). Using an unmanned aerial vehicle water sampler to gather data in a pit-lake mining environment to assess closure and monitoring. ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT, 193(9), 15 pages. doi:10.1007/s10661-021-09316-3
  11. Matula, E. E., Nabity, J. A., & McKnight, D. M. (2021). Supporting Simultaneous Air Revitalization and Thermal Control in a Crewed Habitat With Temperate Chlorella vulgaris and Eurythermic Antarctic Chlorophyta. FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY, 12, 14 pages. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2021.709746
  12.  Khan, A. L., Sokol, E. R., McKnight, D. M., Saunders, J. F., Hohner, A. K., & Summers, R. S. (2021). Phytoplankton Drivers of Dissolved Organic Material Production in Colorado Reservoirs and the Formation of Disinfection By-Products. FRONTIERS IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE, 9, 13 pages. doi:10.3389/fenvs.2021.673627