Mary C. Hill, PhD

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - Geology
Primary office:
Lindley Hall
Room 120D
University of Kansas
1475 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS 66045

I came to KU following a 33-year long career with the US Geological Survey in New Jersey and Colorado. In that position I was a major developer of the MODFLOW, the most widely used groundwater model in the world. My research focused on how to use data to build models, and how to quantify model uncertainty. I came to KU in 2014 to participate in the excitement of a vibrant academic institution.


Ph.D., Civil Engineering-Water Resources, Princeton University

MSE, Civil Engineering - Water Resources, Princeton University

Master's Candidate, Civil Engineering-Water Resources, Michigan State University

B.A., Geology and Business Administration (double major), Hope College


Courses taught since joining KU

HON 120 Honors Seminar Food, Energy, Water, the Environment, and Public Policy -- Opportunities and Tradeoffs (F15, F16, F17)

GEOL 171 Earthquakes and Natural Disasters (F16, S17, F17, S18)

GEOL 751/CEAE 752 Physical Hydrogeology (F17)

GEOL 591/791 Applied Groundwater Modeling (S15, S16, S17, S18)

GEOL 591/791 Inverse Modeling in Geophysics and Hydrogeology (F15, F16)

GEOL Graduate student seminar (F14)

Teaching Interests

  • Interactive
  • Empowering students to perform well in exciting, challenging careers


At KU I seek ways to enable people to understand the environment upon which their lives and livelihoods depend. I do this by working with students and colleagues to visualize data and models in new ways that take advantage of widely accessible devices such as tablets and cell phones. I also explore how to clearly show economic opportunities provided by sustainable use of natural resources.

Research Interests

  • Uncertainty analysis
  • Numerical modeling
  • Risk
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Hydrogeology
  • Visualization
  • Economics


I seek to (1) expand quantitative aspects and synthesize the strengths of the environmental side of the Department of Geology, and (2) bring broad recognition to the very talented faculty in the Department of Geology.

Selected Publications

Borgonovo, E. Lu, X. Plischke, E. Rakovec, O. & Hill, M. C. (2017). Making the most out of a hydrological model data set: Sensitivity analyses to open the model black-box. Water Resources Research. DOI:10.1002/2017WR020767

Belcher, W. R., Sweetkind, D. S., Faunt, C. C., Pavelko, M. T., & Hill, M. C. (2017). U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5150, 74 p. An update of the Death Valley regional groundwater flow system transient model, Nevada and California.

LaVigna, F. Hill, M. C., & Rossetto, R. (2016). Groundwater modelling of the surface-mined Tivoli-Guidonia basin (Rome) and lessons for model development design.

Hill, M. C., Kavetski, D. Clark, M. Ye, M. Arabi, M. Lu, D. Foglia, L. & Mehl, S. (2016). Practical use of computationally frugal model analysis methods. Groundwater. DOI:10.1111/gwat.12330

Lu, D. Ye, M. Hill, M. C., Poeter, E. P., & Curtis, G. P. (2014). A computer program for uncertainty analysis integrating regression and Bayesian methods. Environmental Modelling & Software, 60, 45–56.

Sheets, R. A., Hill, M. C., Haitjema, H. M., Provost, A. & Masterson, J. P. (2014). Simulation of water-table aquifers using specified saturated thickness. Ground Water. DOI:10.1111/gwat.12164

Poeter, E. P., Hill, M. C., Lu, D. Tiedeman, C. R., & Mehl, S. (2014). UCODE_2014, with new capabilities to define parameters unique to predictions, calculate weights using simulated values, estimate parameters with SVD, evaluate uncertainty with MCMC, and more (Integrated Groundwater Modeling Center Report Number GWMI 2014-02).

Laniak, G. F., Olchin, G. Goodall, J. Voinov, A. Hill, M. C., Glynn, P. Whelan, G. & Hughes, A. (2013). Integrated environmental modeling: A vision and roadmap for the future. Environmental Modelling and Software, 39, 3-23. DOI:10.1016/j.envsoft.2012.09.006

Selected Presentations

Hill, M. C., Pahwa, A. Rogers, D. Roundy, J. & Barron, R. . (12/11/2017). Developing Community-Focused Solutions using a Food-Energy-Water Calculator, with Initial Application to Western Kansas . American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. New Orleans, LA. Available Here

Porter, M. Hill, M. C., Pierce, S. Gil, Y. & Pennington, D. . (12/11/2017). Formulating qualitative features using interactive visualization for analysis of multivariate spatio-temporal data . American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. New Orleans, LA. Available Here

Tucker, G. Adams, J. M., Doty, S. G., Gasparini, N. S., Hill, M. C., Hobley, D. E., Hutton, E. Intanbulluoglu, E. & Nudurupati, S. S. (12/31/2016). Using the Landlab toolkit to evaluate and compare alternative geomorphic and hydrologic model formulations (Invited) . American Geophysical Union. San Franciso, CA. Available Here

Hill, M. C. (12/31/2015). Teaching Freshmen About Water, Energy, Food, the Environment, and Public Policy in an Interactive Classroom . American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. San Franciso, CA. Available Here

Selected Grants

Hill, Mary C, Harris, Ted, Multivariate, spatio-temporal data analysis and interactive visualization to address harmful cyanobacterial blooms and water quality in Kansas, CLAS Research Excellence Initiative, $18,000, Submitted 11/03/2017 (01/20/2018 . University (KU or KUMC).

Selected Awards & Honors

American Geophysical Union

Lifetime Achievement Award
National Science Foundation (NSF) Community Surface Dynamic Modeling System (CSDMS)

International Hydrology Prize Dooge Medal
International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), UNESCO, and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Promotion to ST, highest level for US government scientists

M. King Hubbert Award
National Ground Water Association

Meritorious Service Award

GSA (Geological Society of America)

Distinguished Darcy lecturer
National Groundwater Associations.

Walter L. Huber Engineering Research Prize
American Society of Civil Engineers

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