Meet “Waterfallologist” Kristen McCarthy

750 562 Stroud Water Research Center

By Diane Huskinson

Years before joining Stroud™ Water Research Center’s Fluvial Geomorphology Group as a research technician, Kristen McCarthy had a sort of career awakening while earning her bachelor’s. She was double majoring in math and environmental studies at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. 

Encouraged by her parents to be active and enjoy nature while growing up in Massachusetts, McCarthy had spent her youth biking, swimming, and skiing across beautiful New England. From early on, she knew that she liked Earth science.

“A couple of years into undergrad, a  few of my college friends — seeing me doing homework by the Lake Champlain, wanting to know where our drinking water came from, catching marine critters, and swimming, kayaking, and just being by the water — started to call me a ‘waterfallologist,’ and it all started to click,” recalls McCarthy.

She refined her focus on water quality and resources and became a water quality research intern at North East Water Resources Network in Burlington, a watershed educator at the Watershed Alliance in Burlington, and then a water quality technician at Lakes Environmental Association in Maine.

Kristen McCarthy's "Waterfallologist" bracelet

She went on to study riverbank erosion in White Clay Creek while earning her master’s in geological sciences at the University of Delaware. After graduate school, she spent the next three years working for an environmental engineering and consulting firm on projects in the Chesapeake Bay.

“On my first day of work, I excitedly brought my backpack with a handmade keychain made by a friend that reads, ‘Waterfallologist.’” She carried the keychain with her when she joined the Stroud Center in May as a reminder of who she is and what she wants to accomplish.