Mike O’Driscoll

Ground-water exchange has significant effects on the physical hydrology, chemistry and ecology of lake, river and wetland systems. An improved understanding of their connections and exchanges can improve water resources management and policy. Eastern North Carolina is blessed with an abundance of rivers, wetlands and aquifers and is an ideal location to study surface water and groundwater hydrology. Mike O’Driscoll’s lab focuses on identifying and quantifying the factors that regulate groundwater and nutrient inputs to surface waters, particularly in coastal watersheds. O’Driscoll is interested in understanding how anthropogenic disturbances affect streamflow processes and non-point source nutrient and bacteria inputs to shallow aquifers and surface waters, including restoration of impaired waters. Much of his lab’s recent work focuses on human impacts on water resources. Current research includes: investigation of nutrient inputs to Coastal Plain and Piedmont lakes, rivers and estuaries; restoration of buried urban streams; nutrient exports from coastal package treatment plants; and development of geophysical approaches (electrical resistivity, ground penetrating radar and electromagnetic induction) to characterize subsurface wastewater plumes in sensitive coastal watersheds.



University of Connecticut, Geology, B.S. 1996

The Pennsylvania State University, Environmental Pollution Control, M.E.P.C. 1999

The Pennsylvania State University, Geosciences, M.S. 2000

The Pennsylvania State University, Forest Resources, Ph.D. 2004


Professional Experience

2018 to Present: Associate Professor, Department of Coastal Studies, ECU

2018 to Present: Adjunct Visiting Associate Professor of Water Resources, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

2016 to 2018: Visiting Assistant Professor of Water Resources, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

2013 to 2016: Director, Coastal Water Resources Center, ECU

2012 to 2013: Deputy Director, Coastal Water Resources Center, ECU

2011 to 2018: Associate Professor, Geological Sciences, ECU

2010 to 2014: Director, Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology Certificate, ECU

2005 to 2011: Assistant Professor, Geological Sciences, ECU

2004: Instructor, Geological Sciences, ECU

2003: Instructor, Environmental Geology, The Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg

1997: Hygenix, Inc., Environmental Consultant

1990 to 1994: U.S. Navy, USS America CV-66 (Norfolk, Va.), Petty Officer 3rd Class (E-4)/ Aviation Structural Mechanic


Selected Publications

2018, Iverson, G., Humphrey, C., O’Driscoll, M., Sanderford, C., Jernigan, J., Serozi, B. Nutrient exports from watersheds with varying septic system densities in the North Carolina Piedmont. Journal of Environmental Management. Vol. 211: 206-217.


2015, Iverson, G., O’Driscoll, M., Humphrey, C., Manda, A., and Anderson-Evans, E. Wastewater nitrogen contributions to coastal plain watersheds, North Carolina, USA. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution Oct.:226-325.


2015, O’Driscoll, M., Humphrey, C., Deal, N., Lindbo, D. and Zarate-Bermudez, M. Meteorological influences on nitrogen dynamics of a coastal onsite wastewater treatment system. Journal of Environmental Quality 43(6):1873-85.


2012, O’Driscoll, M. The 1909 North Carolina Drainage Act and agricultural drainage effects in eastern North Carolina. Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Science 128 (3/4):  59-73.


2010, O’Driscoll, M., Clinton, S., Jefferson, A., Manda, A., and McMillan, S. Urbanization effects on watershed hydrology and in-stream processes in the southern United States. Water 2: 605-648.


2010, O’Driscoll, M., Johnson, P., and Mallinson, D. Geological controls and effects of floodplain asymmetry on river-groundwater interactions in the southeastern coastal plain, USA. Hydrogeology Journal 18: 1265-1279.


2009, Hardison, E., O’Driscoll, M., DeLoatch, J., Howard, R. and Brinson, M. Urban land-use, channel incision, and riparian water table decline along Inner Coastal Plain streams, North Carolina. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 45(4):1032-1046.


2006, O’Driscoll, M. and DeWalle, D. Stream-air temperature relations to classify stream-ground water interactions in a karst setting, central Pennsylvania, USA. Journal of Hydrology 329:140-153.


2005, O’Driscoll, M., DeWalle, D., McGuire, K.J., and Gburek, W.J. Seasonal 18O variations and groundwater recharge  for three landscape types in central Pennsylvania, USA. Journal of Hydrology 303:108-124.


2003, O’Driscoll, M. and Parizek, R.R. The hydrological catchment area of a chain of karst wetlands in central  Pennsylvania. Wetlands 23 (1):171-179.


Recent Courses Taught

Undergraduate (ECU and PSU-Harrisburg)

  • Dynamic Earth (ECU)
  • Environmental Geology (ECU and PSU)
  • Hydrogeology and the Environment (ECU)
  • Summer Field Course in Geology (ECU)
  • Coastal Water Resources: Exploring Sustainable Solutions for the 21st Century (ECU, Honors)


Graduate (ECU and Duke University)

  • The Geologic Component of Environmental Science (ECU)
  • Geohydrology of Drainage Basins (ECU)
  • Landscape Hydrology (Duke University)
  • Aquatic and Wetland Field Skills (Duke University)
  • Hydrologic and Environmental Data Analysis (Duke University)
  • Water Pollution (Duke University)
  • Groundwater and the Environment (Duke University)