How do water and land management decisions impact the people, economy, and environment of the Great Plains?

ecohydrology | hydrogeology | human-water interactions

Mission Statement

The goal of the HydroEcology of Anthropogenic Landscapes (HEAL@KGS) research group, led by Sam Zipper, is to understand how local, regional, and global change can and will affect the water resources of Kansas and the Great Plains region now and in the future. Our science will be useful, intelligible, and actionable for diverse stakeholders including policymakers, the agricultural industry, conservation groups, and city planners. In addition to local research, we seek to understand how socio-environmental systems around the world experience and respond to similar water challenges to those facing the Great Plains today and connect these global insights to local issues. To accomplish this mission, we will collaborate with physical and social scientists around the world in addition to local stakeholders; openly share scientific methods, tools, and results; and continually move towards the intersection of scientific novelty and societal relevance.

We will accomplish this goal in an equitable and ethical manner. Please see the HEAL@KGS Values, Code of Conduct, and Expectations here.

Who We Are

Current Members


Chris Wheeler

Ph.D. Student


Logan Swenson

Ph.D. Student


Patience Bosompemaa

Ph.D. Student


Sam Zipper

HEAL@KGS PI; Assistant Scientist


Wayne Ndlovu

M.S. Student


Xiaolong Yuan

Visiting Scholar



Abby McCarthy

Undergrad Researcher


Ilinca Popescu

KGS Intern


Lina Gutierrez-Cala

M.Sc. student


Matthew Donnellan

KGS Intern


Max Meyers

Undergrad Researcher


Rashi Modi

KGS Intern


Tom Glose

Postdoctoral Scholar

Research Areas

The HEAL@KGS group is focused on the question, how do feedbacks between groundwater and land use, cover, and management decisions impact water, ecosystems, and society?

We are particularly interested how water moves across the ‘aquifer-to-atmosphere’ continuum in anthropogenic (agricultural and urban) ecosystems. Methodologically, HEAL@KGS uses conduct a mixture of basic and applied research integrating numerical modeling, field observations, and geospatial analysis. We are deliberately transdisciplinary and bridge the fields of hydrogeology, ecohydrology, engineering, agronomy, soil science, and socio-environmental synthesis.

Here are some core topics we are currently working on. We have many varied interests, so please see our Publications for everything that doesn’t fit into one of these categories!

Ecohydrology of land use change

Water-mediated impacts of land use/land cover change.

Ephemeral Hydrology

Hydrologic function and ecosystem services of intermittent streams and playas.

Human-Environment Interface

Human impacts water resources and response of societal response to hydrologic change.

Stream-Aquifer Interactions

How human decisions impact surface water-groundwater exchange.

Water in agricultural landscapes

Sustaining agriculture and environment in rural landscapes.

Open Science

Transparency | Accessibility | Outreach

Science should be transparent and accessible to all, but 17% of scientific data ‘disappears’ per year due to inadequate data archiving. We actively participate in the Open Science movement through multiple avenues:

What more can I do? I am always looking for ways to improve… Tweet @ZipperSam with ideas!


I’ve had the privilege to teach at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels. From this diverse experience, I’ve developed a learner-focused teaching style underlain by three core principles:

  1. Students learn best when materials connect to the things they care about.
  2. Active student participation in the classroom is necessary to engage students.
  3. Regular internal and external assessment is necessary in order to identify what material students are connecting with, and where they are struggling.

I use place-based teaching as the thread binding these three principles together. By using local examples, experiential field education, and real-world data, students build upon their sense of place to make connections between new material and their existing knowledge.

Courses Taught

  • Hydrologic Data Visualization, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Tecnologias Ambientais, March 2023. Invited instructor of weeklong graduate intensive course. Developed and led course including lectures, assignments, and assessment. Enrollment = 10 students.
  • Advanced Interdisciplinary Water Science: CUAHSI Virtual University, University of Kansas Department of Geology (GEOL791), Fall 2022. Instructor for graduate-level hydrology course at KU as part of CUAHSI Virtual University program. Administered 3-credit graduate course, including developing and leading 4-week module on Hydrologic Data Visualization taught to students at all participating universities. KU course enrollment = 11 students. Module enrollment = 27 students.
  • Sustainable Water Resources, University of Victoria Department of Civil Engineering (CIVE340), Fall 2018. Instructor for core undergraduate water resource engineering course. Leading all lectures, in-class activities, homework assignments, and exams. Selected evaluation results (n=48):
    • ‘Overall, the instructor was effective in this course’: 60% Excellent, 35% Good.
    • ‘As a result of this course, my interest in the material…': 63% Increased.

Courses TA’ed

  • Ecohydrology, University of Wisconsin (CEE619), Spring 2016. Developed new module on rainfall-runoff partitioning including student programming exercise simulating banded vegetation dynamics. Lectured on various topics in class and assisted with curriculum design.
  • Ecohidrologia (Ecohydrology), Universidad Nacional de San Luis (Argentina), Spring 2015. Led student development of ecohydrological ‘bucket model’ in programming language R.

Other Teaching Experience

  • Certified Carpentries Instructor since 2020. Lead instructor for Geospatial Analysis in R workshop. Helper for workshops on Introduction to R, Introduction to Git, and more.
  • Guest lectures for courses at the University of Kansas, McGill University, University of Wisconsin-Baraboo, University of North Carolina, and University of Victoria.

Consulting Services

science, solutions, value

I work as a consultant on projects ranging from a handful of hours to multi-year collaborative projects. As an independent freelancer, I provide exceptional value to your project since my overhead costs are effectively zero - all you pay for is the time I spend doing science for you.

I’ve contributed to numerous projects, working with diverse groups including The Nature Conservancy, Foundry Spatial, Dairy Management Inc., and the Soil Health Institute.

My services include:

  • strategic planning and fundraising
  • project design
  • data collection and analysis
  • modeling and data science
  • scientific and technical writing
  • instruction and training

If you could benefit from any of these services, please send me an email and I’m happy to develop a scope of work that meets your needs and budget.