Diane M. McKnight

Diane M. McKnight

Distinguished Professor

Departments / Academic Programs


  • PhD: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1979

Research Programs, Labs, and Groups

Contact Information

(Office) 303 492-4687


Limnology; biogeochemistry of lakes and streams.


Research focuses on interactions between hydrologic, chemical and biological processes in controlling the dynamics in aquatic ecosystems. This research is carried out through field-scale experiments, modeling, and laboratory characterization of natural substrates. Conducts research focusing on interactions between freshwater biota, trace metals, and natural organic material in diverse freshwater environments, including lakes and streams in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and in the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica.

Main field sites are located in the Rocky Mountains and in the Transantarctic Mountains, and include pristine and stressed ecosystems. A co-principal investigator in the McMurdo Dry Valley LTER and in the Niwot Ridge LTER. 

Develops interactions with state and local groups involved in mine drainage and watershed issues in the Rocky Mountains.

CU Connections interview "Five Questions for Diane McKnight."


  • Distinguished Professor, University of Colorado System, 2021
  • Robert E. Horton Medal, American Geophysical Union, 2021
  • AEESP Distinguished Lecturer, Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors Foundation, 2019
  • John Dalton Medal, European Geosciences Union, 2015
  • Distinguished Research Lectureship, CU Boulder, 2015
  • Hydrology Section Award, American Geophysical Union, 2014
  • Elected member, National Academy of Engineering, 2012
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2009
  • Fellow, American Geophysical Union, 2004
  • Meritorious Service Award, U.S. Geological Survey, 1995