Quinn’s current research uses a new, technologically advanced drone to image rivers and hillslopes in unprecedented detail and focuses specifically on two of Indiana’s most important rivers, the White River and the East Fork White River.

His previous work spans from studies on the fluid dynamics of river confluences to using citizen-produced imagery datasets in physical geography. Quinn’s current research focuses on morphology and evolution of fluvial landscapes, with the unifying theme of research on process, form, and the transfer of material and energy that links the two.


  • fluvial geomorphology, water resources, hillslope erosion and watershed processes, remote sensing of rivers, UAVs

My research is focused broadly on the trinity of physical process, physical form, and energy and material transfer that links the two. A current project that demonstrates this theme is research on the process of river cutoff – when rivers suddenly take a more efficient path downslope and abandon their former channels.

My interests thus encompass parts of many scientific fields - from geology, to geography and environmental science, to civil engineering, to social science and more. 

Research Interests:

  • What role does water play in forming landscapes, and how might this change with a changing climate?
    • How and why do rivers take a new course?
    • How do rivers mix sediment and water at confluences, and how does this affect life in rivers?
    • When temperature, rainfall, and river flows change, how do rivers and their landscapes change?
  • In what ways can we leverage new and developing technologies to better understand landscape process and landforms?
    • Does better technology lead to better understanding in geomorphology?
    • How do we integrate established technology like GPS with developing technology like drones?
    • Can we find new and better ways to measure lake and river levels or water stresses and floods?
  • How can we better understand and improve society's relationship with earth's water resources?
    • Can we make floods or droughts less deadly, less damaging, and more predictable? 
    • How do we balance resource usage, plant and animal life and health, and society's needs in a changing world?
    • In what ways can scientists use citizens as an informational resource, and how can we both inform the public and learn from it?

My research focuses on advancement of fluvial geomorphology and water resources through innovative fieldwork and geospatial tools and methods, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches to complex problems.

Research: Rivers and Landscapes


Postdoctoral Researcher, Environmental Resilience Institute, Office of the Vice President for Research, Academic and Research Units, Indiana University Bloomington

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Management, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo

Environmental Science, Geography
PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Geography and Geographic Information Science, 2017
MS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Geography, 2014
BS, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Geography, 2011