John Olson Profile Photo
Dr. John Olson
Affiliate Assistant Research Professor

Website:Google Scholar Page

Professional Interests

Dr. John Olsons research focuses on regional water chemistry, hydrogeology, and freshwater ecology. His work includes creating nationwide maps of geologic characteristics and empirically modeling natural water chemistry to establish water chemistry baselines and nutrient criteria, as well as exploring the linkages between geology, water chemistry, and stream biota.


Degree Year Institution Area
Ph.D. 2012 Utah State University Watershed Science
M.S. 2002 Columbus State University Environmental Science
B.S. 1986 University of California, Santa Barbara Geography

Project Information

Stream and lake chemical and physical properties are the result of upstream and upslope properties and processes. Therefore, differences in watershed geology or atmospheric deposition create differences in the amount and type of solids dissolved in streams. Other watershed attributes, such as vegetation type, can act as a sink for some elements, which reduces their concentrations. The watershed environment can be measured, but the complicated relationships between the environment and water chemistry make mechanistic models infeasible. Instead, the watershed environment is related to stream and lake chemistry using empirical models, and then these models are used to predict the natural conditions of a freshwater system. The amount a system has been altered can then be determined by comparing the predictions to the current conditions.


water chemistry, hydrogeology, and freshwater ecology


Gleeson, T., Ingebritsen, S. (Eds.) Fan, Y., Richard, S. M., Bristol, S., Peters, S. E., Ingebritsen, S. E., Moosdorf, N., Packman, A., Gleeson, T., Zaslavsky, I., Peckham, S. D., Murdoch, L., Fienen, M. N., Cardiff, M., Tarboton, D. G., Jones, N. L., Hooper, R. P., Arrigo, J. S., Gochis, D., Olson, J. R., Wolock, D. (2017). DigitalCrust–a 4D data system of material properties for transforming research on crustal fluid flow, In Crustal Permeability, 6-12, John Wiley & Sons Ltd.: Chichester, UK

Hawkins, C., Kefford, B., Dyack, B., Brucet, S., Buchwalter, D., Dunlop, J., Lazorchak, J., Olson, J. R. (2016). Saving freshwater from salts, Science, 351 (6276), 914-916, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Fan, Y., Richard, S., Bristol, R., Peters, S., Ingebritsen, S., Moosdorf, N., Packman, A., Gleeson, T., Zaslavsky, I., Peckham, S., Olson, J. R. (2015). DigitalCrust-a 4D data system of material properties for transforming research on crustal fluid flow, Geofluids, 15 (1-2), 372-379, Wiley Online Library

Olson, J. R., Hawkins, C. P., Mock, K. E., Huntington, J. L., Susfalk, R. B. (2014). System for Mapping And Predicting Species Of Concern (SMAP-SOC), NASA Earth Science Division/Applied Sciences Program

Conference Proceedings
Vander Laan, J., Olson, J. R., Hawkins, C. P. (2015). Response of stream biodiversity to increasing salinization, Utah State Spring Runoff Conference: Logan, UT

Olson, J. R., Hawkins, C. P. (2015). Assessing human alterations of stream water chemistry from modeled reference conditions, Society for Freshwater Science annual meeting: Milwaukee, WI

Olson, J. R. (2015). System for mapping and predicting species of concern, NASA Biodiversity and Ecological Forecasting Team Meeting: Washington, D.C.

Olson, J. R., Hawkins, C. P. (2014). An empirical approach to predicting effects of climate change on stream water chemistry, AGU annual meeting: San Francisco CA