Danica Roth

Assistant Professor, Geology and Geological Engineering

Danica Roth


  • Ph.D. Earth Science, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2016
  • B.A. Physics, University of California, Berkeley, 2008
  • B.A. Astronomy, University of California, Berkeley, 2008

Short CV


  • To characterize—mechanistically, quantitatively and predictively—the fluxes and processes that define complex Earth systems, particularly over spatiotemporal scales and conditions relevant to anthropogenic impacts and hazards.
  • To balance applied and theoretical science by addressing socially or ecologically relevant current issues while simultaneously advancing our fundamental knowledge of physical processes that shape the Earth’s surface.
  • To exploit the modern proliferation of geomorphic data, computational resources, and innovative analytical methodologies to establish more effective tools for geomorphic analysis.
  • To improve the accessibility and diversity of the STEM community through inclusive mentorship, pedagogy and advocacy.


  • Understanding how spatiotemporally heterogeneous parameters, like vegetation, couple with geomorphic processes to modify system feedbacks and responses to perturbation such as climate change, wildfire or land use.
  • Developing and testing nonlocal sediment transport models to address the influence of upslope topography on long distance sediment transport, especially in steep settings.
  • Developing the use of seismometers, geophones and other geophysical tools to characterize and study active Earth surface processes.
  • High resolution topographic data analysis (i.e., point cloud terrestrial/aerial lidar and structure from motion photogrammetry).
  • Using short-lived radionuclides (Be-7 and Cs-137) to monitor modern sediment disturbance rates.
  • Integrating field observations, experiments, terrain analysis and advanced analytical and geophysical techniques with quantitative theory development.


  • Combining experimental field data with numerical modeling and topographic analysis to refine our understanding of the statistical representations and underlying physics of long distance particle motion and interactions with topographic roughness.
  • Examining the effects of vegetation, land use, lithology and other forms of topographic roughness on hillslope sediment transport after wildfire; comparing short-term (e.g., Be-7 and Cs-137) measurements with established long-term erosion rates to yield insight into the relative contributions and timescales of post-fire landscape response.
  • Characterizing seismic wave attenuation (i.e., Green’s functions) properties and examining how attenuation may vary between geomorphically active field settings or evolve over individual sediment transport or mass movement events.
  • Developing the use of seismic and acoustic techniques to monitor stochastic or ‘patchy’ geomorphic processes (e.g., rock fall and bioturbation by trees or animals) and measure substrate characteristics relevant to the effects of biota on hillslope sediment transport (e.g., root density, soil saturation and cohesion).


  • Starting January, 2019 Assistant Professor, Colorado School of Mines
  • 2016 – 2018 NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oregon


  • 2018 University of Oregon Postdoc Association Committee Member
  • 2016 Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity (GEODES Founding Members), UC Santa Cruz
  • 2015 – 2016 Vice President, Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), UC Santa Cruz
  • 2015 – 2016 Co-Founder & Officer, Geoscientists Encouraging Openness and Diversity in the Earth Sciences (GEODES), UC Santa Cruz
  • 2015 – 2016 Co-Founder, WiSE Up: reading and discussion group for equity in STEM, UC Santa Cruz
  • 2014 – 2015 Outreach Coordinator, Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), UC Santa Cruz
  • 2014 – 2015 WiSE Representative, Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion (ACCCCI), UC Santa Cruz


  • Geomorphology (fall, 2019)
  • High Resolution Topographic Analysis (spring, 2020)
  • Geology for Rock Climbers (future)


  • Roth, DL, Doane, T, Roering, JJ., Furbish, DJ, Zettler-Mann, A. (in prep.). Topographic roughness and nonlocal hillslope sediment transport: effects of fire and vegetation on surface morphology and experimental particle travel distances.
    Doane, T, Roth, DL, Furbish, DJ, Roering, JJ. (under review, JGR-ES.). Compression and decay of hillslope topographic variance in Fourier wavenumber domain.
  • Roth, DL, Finnegan, NJ, Brodsky, EE, Rickenmann, D, Turowski, JM, Badoux, A and Gimbert, F. (2017). Bedload transport and boundary roughness changes as competing causes of hysteresis in the relationship between river discharge and seismic amplitude recorded near a steep mountain stream. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, doi: 10.1002/2016JF004062.
  • Roth, DL, Brodsky, EE, Finnegan, NJ, Rickenmann, D, Turowski, JM, and Badoux, A. (2016). Bedload sediment transport inferred from seismic signals near a river. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 121(4): 725-747, doi: 10.1002/2015JF003782.
  • Roth, DL, Finnegan, NJ, Brodsky, EE, Cook, KL, Stark, CP, and Wang, HW. (2014). Migration of a coarse fluvial sediment pulse detected by hysteresis in bedload generated seismic waves. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 404: 144-153, doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2014.07.019.
  • Burr, DM, Jacobsen, RE, Roth, DL, Phillips, CB, Mitchell, KL, and Viola, D. (2009). Fluvial network analysis on Titan: Evidence for subsurface structures and west-to-east wind flow, southwestern Xanadu. Geophysical Research Letters, 36: 22, doi: 10.1029/2009GL040909.

Contact Information

Berthoud Hall 305A
Phone: 303-273-3802
Fax: 303-273-3859