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Every "Science and Environmental Policy" student is required to perform a significant senior thesis, which we call a "Capstone Project." These projects are mentored with 6 units of course work, a faculty advisor, and two faculty readers.

Doug's Masters and Capstone Students have tackled a range of watershed-related issues. Some of the reports are available to view below. For more capstone studies, visit the SEP Capstone page

Although we strive to help students perform excellent theses, undergraduate theses are not always accurate. They do not necessarily represent the views of the faculty or university. If you are interested in a topic presented below, feel free to find out more from Doug Smith

Sara Kelly

Geomorphic Change in the Upper Carmel River, CA: Effects of the 2008 Basin Complex Fire

(PDF 1Mb)

Dall 2012 entered PhD program at Utah State University

Casey Lanier


Potential Impacts of Groundwater Withdrawal and Wildfires along the Big Sur River: An Assessment of Oncorhynchus mykiss Habitat

(PDF 2.8Mb)

First post-capstone position: 2011 Monterey Peninsula Management District.


Katrina Morelli-Hinke

Assessing sources of turbidity in Warner Creek: A watershed contributing to New York City water supply.
(PDF 3Mb)


Ryan Bassett


Quantifying spatially-explicit change in sediment storage on an emerging floodplain and wetland on Carneros Creek, CA
(PDF 1Mb)

First post-capstone position: 2011 M.S in progress in Coastal and Watershed Science & Policy (CSUMB) and Environmental Technician with Santa Cruz City.


Andrew Malloy

Is sediment size a limiting factor for Steelhead in Yellowbank Creek, CA
(PDF 1Mb)
Zeke Bean

Assessing the affect of a proposed Policy for Maintaining Instream Flows for Northern California Cosatal Streams on a City of Santa Cruz water diversion,
Majors Creek, Santa Cruz County, CA
(PDF 5.3Mb)

First post-capstone experience: Environmental Projects Analyst Santa Cruz City (2008-present),


Randy Holloway

Sediment Budget in a Large Wetland Restoration Project: Carneros Creek, CA

Masters Thesis (2010)
First post-degree position: Environmental Technician Santa Cruz City (2009-2011), Waterways Consulting (2011)


Kyle Stoner

Does the timing of late-season base-flow monitoring make a difference in the Santa Lucia Preserve, Carmel Valley, CA
(PDF 2Mb)

2012 Completed M.S in Coastal and Watershed Science & Policy (CSUMB)

Crystal Forman

Restoration River Design for Reach 4B of the San Joaquin River from GIS and Aerial Photographs (3 Mb pdf)

First post-capstone position: Field technician for J.L. Analytical Services, Inc., Modesto, CA

Jacob George
Early Fire-impacts from Basin Complex Fire on Geomorphology and Substrate of the Big Sur River (2 Mb)
Michael McKay

The Assessment of a Large Gully System Threatening Laguna Seca Raceway at Turn Six (1.7 Mb pdf)

Bruce Cyr

Post Basin-Complex Fire Flood Risks in Sycamore Flats of the Arroyo Seco River (300 kb)

First post-capstone job: Hydrologist US Geological Survey (2008-present)

Mary Zertuche

Early Basin-Complex Fire impacts in the Big Sur River (Spring 2009) (3.5 Mb).

First post-capstone job: Survey technician with Baseline Land Survey Co. (2009), Eurofins Water Quality Lab (2011)

Bryce Kantz Squeezing more water from Monterey: Assessing the potential for rain harvesting and cistern storage (1.2 Mb)


Shae Maher

Do near-stream wells impact steelhead habitat on Big Sur River, California (0.5 Mb PDF)

First post-capstone position: 2011 M.S completed in Coastal and Watershed Science & Policy (CSUMB)


Bianca Moreno

Bianca Moreno

Pararo River Levees: Hydrology, Hydraulic Modeling and Visualization (1.6 Mb PDF)

2008 CSUMB Woman Geoscientist of the Year: Association of Women Geoscientists

First post-capstone position: Federal Emergency Management Agency


Jason Maas-Baldwin

Jason Maas-Baldwin

CA Urban Stream Restoration : Assessment Methods and CA Dept. of Water Resources Program Evaluation.

Masters Thesis (2008)
First post-degree position: Teaching Science Carmel High School (2008-2011)



Zachary Croyle

Analysis of Baseflow Trends Related to Upland Groundwater Pumping for Las Garzas, San Clemente, Potrero, and San Jose Creeks

Masters Thesis (2009)
First post-degree position U.S.: Forest Service (Plumas Forest: 2009-2011)


Brian Spear
Brian Spear

Twenty-nine years of Geomorphic Change at Elkhorn Slough, CA .

M.S. (2010)

Technical report to Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve

First post-degree position: Watershed Scientist with 2nd Nature LLC Consulting (2009-2011

Josh Williams
Joshua Williams

Suspended Sediment in the Carmel Watershed, CA: Land Use and Tributary Respons (2007e. (1.7 Mb)


Eve Elkins

Hydrologic Modeling of Red-Legged Frog Habitat on Carmel River

First post capstone experience: Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (2002), then M.S. student at UC Davis (Land, Air, Water Res., 2003). Worked as a hydrology/geomorphology consultant with Swanson & Associates Consulting in Santa Cruz, CA with at least two other SEP graduates (2006). Published (2007) . Research Associate with MBARI (2008-present)

Caroline McKnight


Garrapata Creek Trout Habitat Assesment (900kb_pdf)

First post capstone experience: California Department of Fish and Game (2002). Groundfish Division CA Fish and Game (2007-2011)

Sean Finney

Restoration Plan for Pickleweed Marsh Habitat in Estrada Marsh, Elkhorn Slough, CA. (2004) (2 Mb pdf)

First post capstone job: NOAA Corps Officer Training Academy. Made Lieutenant (LTjg; 2007) and anticipating 20 years of career service! In 2009..completed Masters Degree at Naval Postgraduate School--exploring the need and cost of establishing remotely-sensed smallcraft ID for Homeland Security.


Melanie Vincent

Quantifying Sediment Transport: The Key to Regulating Development in Coastal California Watersheds
Abstract accepted at the 2003 Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research

First post-capstone job: Monterey County Water Resources Agency in the Floodplain Management/Development Review Division (2003-2006). Now an environmental Specialist with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (2007). Advanced to Associate Planner with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (2009)

Elvie Hall

Digital Kite-Borne Aerial Photography for High Resolution Environmental Monitoring (sample image)

April McMillian

Visualizing the Dynamic Salinas Valley Water Table with Animated GIS
Abstract accepted at the 2003 Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research

First post-capstone job: Field Inspector for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (2003). Then worked at FPM Group (2004) working on groundwater remediation at Edwards Airforce Base. Completed Masters Degree at CSU-Fullerton while working full time (2006).

Senior Environmental Scientist at FUSCOE Engineering, Irvine CA (2009)

Karen Riley

Is the Peachtree Valley Lineament an Active Fault Zone

First post capstone job: Monterey County Planning Department Grade Inspector (2003)

Amy Thistle

Sediment Sources and Logging Roads in Mitteldorf Redwood Preserve...see related report

First post capstone job: Monterey County Water Resources Agency in the Floodplain Management/Development Review Division (2003). Mentoring young people in environmental stewardship through the Seaside, CA Boys and Girls Clubs (2006). Communication Disorders and Sciences Masters Program at San Jose State University (2008)

Anthony Guerriero

Links Between Invasive Italian Thistle and Geomorphically-Disturbed Landscapes: Implications for Land Management on Fort Ord BLM Property

First post-capstone job: Hydrological Technician at U.S. Geological Survey, Marina office (2004-present).

Paul Huntington

Amount and geomorphic/biological function of large wood and wood accumulations in the Carmel River. Report for the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District. (7.5 MB pdf). See a synopsis here.

Is there enough for Steelhead Trout? Is it a stabilizing or destabilizing factor? (large powerpoint file)

Paul also witnessed a rare natural breaching event at the Carmel lagoon. (8MB powerpoint)

Kim DeRenzo

Geomorphology, Sediment Analysis and Restoration Plan for an Incised Urban Creek: Don Dahvee Creek, Monterey, California (1.3MB pdf)

First post capstone job: Soil Scientist technician with Soil Surveys Inc., Salinas CA. (2004). Now teaching elementary school in Salinas, CA (2006).

Kelleen Harris (formerly K. Harter)

Beneficial Effects of Wetland Management.

Is water quality in Carneros Creek improved as it flows through ALBA’s Triple-M Ranch in Watsonville, CA?

First post capstone job: Lead researcher on Gabilan Watershed water quality program (CCoWS team) at CSUMB Watershed Institute (2005-2007). Currently with Santa Cruz Municipal Water Department (2008-present)

Genoveva Ruiz

Henna collected and processed high resolution imagery from the upper 4 km reach of Monterey Canyon. Resulted in major publication in the Bulletin of the Geological Society of America. (PDF)

First post-capstone job: Working with science education at an aquarium in southern CA.

2009: Teaching in LA Unified School District

Karen Gref

Coastal Retreat Rates along Southern Monterey Bay from Historic Aerial Photos and GPS: Implications for Seawall Policy (2004) (2.7 Mb)

Karen's capstone project is featured in a technical report on Coastal Retreat (2.8 Mb)

First post capstone job: Teaching youngsters about marine environments and ecosystems on Santa Catalina Island, CA. Finished M.S. at the Univ. Mich., Dearborn in Env. Sci. (2009).

Now working at AAI Environmental Serviceshttp://www.aaienvcorp.com/


Regina Williams

Developing a Translocation Plan for the Endangered Mountain Yellow Legged Frog (Rana muscosa) in the Gable Lakes Basin, Sierra Nevada California (1.5 Mb pdf)

First post capstone job: Exploring Guatemala, and then Lead researcher on Gabilan Watershed water quality program (CCoWS team) at CSUMB Watershed Institute (2006).

Adam Mahnken Animated Visualization of the Salinas Valley Water Table Elevation and Saltwater Intrusion, and Analysis. (7 Mb ppt) This file works better if downloaded before viewing.


Alex Price

Large Woody Debris in the Carmel River: Assessment of Changes in Density and Distribution and Implications for Restoration (2 Mb pdf)


Yongxiang (Frank) Li

An inclination correction for the Valle Group strata, Baja California, Mexico. Ph.D. Dissertation at Lehigh University

Journal of Geophysical Research
(1 MB pdf)

Jordan Vaughn

Paleomagnetic and compaction correction study of the Perforada and Asuncion Formations, Baja California, Mexico. Master's Thesis at Lehigh University.
Earth and Planetary Science Letters article