Dr. Thomas LaVanchy is a human-environment interaction scientist. His research interests are in hydrology and social vulnerability and adaption in the context of climate change and water insecurity. He uses geographic information systems, qualitative, participatory and quantitative methods in his research to integrate perspectives of hydrology, political ecology, and human ecology across spatial, ecosystem, and temporal scales.
Thomas earned his bachelor of arts degree from Wheaton College in 1998, with majors in geology and education. After several years of global development work and teaching geology labs at his alma mater, he was inspired to pursue academics to learn more about the structural causes of environmental degradation and poverty and seek out methods to address them.
Thomas enrolled in the Masters of Arts Program in Social Science (MAPSS) at the University of Chicago, where he integrated studies of geographic information science, urban geography, and cultural geography to understand the environmental implications of the urbanization of Dakar, Senegal. His thesis research included significant field work in Senegal over a period of three years.
Thomas completed a PhD in 2015 in the Department of Geography & the Environment at the University of Denver as an Environmental Protection Agency STAR Fellow. His dissertation research involved groundwater monitoring of 72 wells, geological mapping, qualitative interviews with local well owners and tourism developers, and establishing a meteorological monitoring network to improve data supported groundwater decisions in rural Nicaragua. Those collective efforts were aimed at supporting equity of water access for local communities and promoting sustainability within the tourism industry.
Since 2015, Professor LaVanchy has served as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Gustavus Adolphus College (2015-16) and a Visiting Teaching Assistant Professor at the University of Denver (2016-18). In addition to teaching courses in water resources and sustainability, he teaches a travel course to South Africa that introduces students to a range of human and environmental issues. Currently, he is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography & the Environment at the University of Denver and conducts research and writes on water issues in Cape Town, South Africa, the Sahel of West Africa, and along the southwest coast of Nicaragua. Dr. LaVanchy is also an Associate Editor for Hydrogeolgoy Journal.
University of Denver, PhD (2015)
Department of Geography & the Environment, Denver, CO
Dissertation: When Wells Run Dry: Water and Tourism along the Western Coast of Nicaragua
Enivironmental Protection Agency STAR Fellow
University of Chicago, MA (2010)
Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS)
Thesis: The Changing Landscape of Urban Dakar: Geographies of Senegal
Wheaton College, BA (1998)
Double major: Geology, Education
American Association of Geographers (AAG), 2010-Present
Geological Society of America (GSA), 2010-Present
Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (CLAG), 2011-Present
International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH), 2014-Present