Dr. Keith Eshleman, a professor at the Appalachian Laboratory and an expert in the field of watershed hydrology, has been honored by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science with the President's Award for Excellence in Application of Science. Eshleman was recognized for his leadership in preparing a landmark report on best management practices for unconventional natural gas extraction, also known as fracking, as part of the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative established by Governor Martin O'Malley.
The recommendations will assist State and local policymakers and regulators in determining if and how development of the Marcellus Shale formation in western Maryland can occur while minimizing adverse impacts to the environment, natural resources, and public safety.
"Dr. Eshleman’s work exemplifies our Center’s very best traditions of effective and practical application of science," said University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science President Dr. Donald Boesch. "Working on a very controversial topic and under a tight timeline, Keith and his collaborators synthesized information from Maryland and around the country on the highest level of standards of protection and safety."
The team lead by Eshleman and Dr. Andrew Elmore reviewed practices being used in other states to identify methods and techniques that have been shown to protect air quality, drinking water supplies, water quality, and habitat. These included best practices to address issues ranging from drilling and noise control to waste handling and blowout prevention. The final report was released this spring.
Eshleman's research interests are in the areas of watershed and wetlands hydrology, groundwater/surface water interactions, biogeochemical processes in upland and wetland ecosystems, hydrochemical modeling, and ecosystem responses due to natural disturbances, energy development, and land use change. Recent research projects have focused on the hydrological impacts of acid deposition, forest disturbances, and surface mining activities in the Appalachian Mountain region
Eshleman completed his Ph.D. in Water Resources at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985. He holds a B.A. degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia and an S.M. degree in Civil Engineering from M.I.T. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and dozens of technical reports in his career and is co-author of an undergraduate textbook entitled “Elements of Physical Hydrology.
The President's Award was established in 1999 to honor exemplary applications of science that have had a positive impact on environmental protection and management.