IMAGE OF James Heiss

James Heiss

Assistant Professor

College of Sciences
Environmental Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Climate Change Initiative
Olney Hall - 102C


Coastal Hydrogeology, Groundwater-Surface Water Interactions, Coastal Groundwater Resources, Aquifer Biogeochemistry

Research Interests

Coastal hydrogeology, groundwater-surface water interactions, groundwater resources, aquifer biogeochemistry

My research interests are in the subsurface component of the hydrologic cycle in coastal environments, particularly interactions between hydrology, geology, and biogeochemistry in coastal and nearshore aquifers. I also study groundwater resources under climate change and sea level rise, as well as groundwater and nutrient dynamics beneath beaches, estuaries, and bays. My research involves field experimentation and numerical groundwater flow, solute transport, and biogeochemical modeling, with a broader goal to understand fluid and chemical fluxes across the land-ocean interface.


  • Ph.D.: Geology, (2017), University of Delaware - Newark, DE
  • MS: Geology, (2011), University of Delaware - Newark, DE
  • BS: Geoenvironmental Studies, (2009), Shippensburg University - Shippensburg, PA

Selected Publications

  • Heiss, J., Michael, H., Koneshloo, M. (2020). Denitrification hotspots in intertidal mixing zones linked to geologic heterogeneity. Environmental Research Letters.
  • Heiss, J.W., Michael, H.A., Puleo, J. (2020). Groundwater–surface water exchange in the intertidal zone detected by hydrologic and coastal oceanographic measurements. Hydrological Processes.
  • Kim, K.H., Heiss, J., Geng, X., Michael, H.A. (2020). Modeling hydrologic controls on particulate organic carbon contributions to beach aquifer biogeochemical reactivity. Water Resources Research, 1-17.
  • Heiss, J.W. (2020). Whale burial and organic matter impacts on biogeochemical cycling in beach aquifers and leachate fluxes to the nearshore zone. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology.
  • Russoniello, C.J., Heiss, J.W., Michael, H.A. (2018). Variability in Benthic Exchange Rate, Depth, and Residence Time Beneath a Shallow Coastal Estuary. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.
  • Heiss, J., Post, V., Laattoe, T., Russoniello, C., Michael, H. (2017). Physical Controls on Biogeochemical Processes in Intertidal Zones of Beach Aquifers. Water Resources Research, 53(11).
  • Kim, K.H., Heiss, J., Michael, H.A., Cai, W.J., Laattoe, T., Post, V.E., Ullman, W.J. (2017). Spatial Patterns of Groundwater Biogeochemical Reactivity in an Intertidal Beach Aquifer. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 122(10) 2548--2562.
  • Geng, X., Heiss, J., Michael, H.A., Boufadel, M.C. (2017). Subsurface flow and moisture dynamics in response to swash motions: Effects of beach hydraulic conductivity and capillarity. Water Resources Research, (2001) 317-335.
  • Walther, M., Heiss, J., Magri, F., Delfs, J., Graf, T. (2016). Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical-Chemical Processes in Fractured Porous Media: Modelling and Benchmarking: Benchmarking Initiatives (pp. 97-105). Springer International Publishing
  • Mcallister, S.M., Barnett, J.M., Heiss, J., Findlay, A.J., Macdonald, D.J., Dow, C.L., Luther, G.W., Michael, H.A., Chan, C.S. (2015). Dynamic hydrologic and biogeochemical processes drive microbially enhanced iron and sulfur cycling within the intertidal mixing zone of a beach aquifer. Limnology and Oceanography, 60(1) 329--345.
  • Heiss, J., Puleo, J.A., Ullman, W.J., Michael, H.A. (2015). Coupled surface-subsurface hydrologic measurements reveal infiltration, recharge, and discharge dynamics across the swash zone of a sandy beach. Water Resources Research, 1.
  • Heiss, J., Michael, H.A. (2014). Saltwater-freshwater mixing dynamics in a sandy beach aquifer over tidal, spring-neap, and seasonal cycles. Water Resources Research, 50(8) 6747-6766.
  • Heiss, J., Ullman, W.J., Michael, H.A. (2014). Swash zone moisture dynamics and unsaturated infiltration in two sandy beach aquifers. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 143 20-31.

Selected Presentations

  • Impact of Heterogeneity and Degradation of POC on Biogeochemical Transformations in an Intertidal Aquifer - International Association of Hydrological Sciences , July 2019 - Montreal, Canada
  • Geochemical response to hydrologic change along land-sea interfaces - American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, December 2016 - San Francisco, CA
  • The influence of groundwater flowpaths and mixing on nutrient fluxes to estuaries and the ocean - Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, September 2016 - Denver, CO
  • Salinity dynamics in coastal aquifers affected by tides and Hurricane Sandy, Rising Seas and Extreme Events on Vulnerable Coasts, April 2016 - Newark, DE
  • Temporal and spatial variability of sediment saturation and patterns of groundwater-surface water exchange in the intertidal zone at swash and tidal time scales - American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, December 2015 - San Francisco, CA
  • Linking swash zone surface processes to groundwater flow using subsurface measurements and video imagery, June 2015 - Woods Hole, Massachusetts
  • Seasonal water table effects on tide-induced saltwater-freshwater mixing in sandy beaches - Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, December 2011 - Charlotte, NC

Selected Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Collaborative Research: Hydrologic dynamics in a coastal aquifer during an extreme multi-hazard coastal storm (2020), Grant - National Science Foundation
    Heiss, J. (Principal)
  • Merrimack River and Lowell canal water quality network (2020), Grant - Independent University Alumni Association at Lowell
    Heiss, J. (Principal)