Professor Michael Church is recognized internationally as one of the top scholars in the field of geomorphology. Within this field his areas of research interest include fluvial sediment transport and the interpretation of river channel changes and theoretical geomorphology. Dr. Church’s research in fluvial geomorphology led him to pursue inter-disciplinary work in such areas as hydrology, water resources management and aquatic ecosystems. He is one of the few geomorphologists who work on large rivers, specifically Fraser and Peace Rivers in British Columbia.
Dr. Church’s early research, “Baffin Island sandar: A study of arctic fluvial environments” (Canadian Geological Survey, Bulletin 216, 1972) is considered the first modern application of fluvial geomorphology. This landmark paper was recognized with the Kirk Bryan Award of the Geological Society of America. Dr. Church has continued to publish papers on theoretical and practical aspects of geomorphology, sedimentology and hydraulics in leading journals including Nature, Journal of Geophysical Research, Journal of Sedimentary Research, Sedimentology, Water Resources Research and Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.
Dr. Church’s work on river channel stability focuses on the areas of critical states in the physics of complex macroscopic systems, in particular granular systems. Sedimentary (granular) structures that are the outcome of sediment transport and deposition leading to critical states are important elements of aquatic habitat for benthic organisms, and important topographic elements on the streambed that fishes use. The theoretical work that Dr. Church engages in, in this and other areas of research, informs his practical work as a consultant and scientific advisor for such projects as the Scientific Panel for Sustainable Forests Practices in Clayoquot Sound and the Fraser Basin Council.
Dr. Church is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America; he was awarded the Killam Research Prize at The University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1991, and the David Linton Award of the British Geomorphological Research Group in 1996. Dr. Church has held a Royal Society Research Fellowship at Oxford (1987) and was a Visiting Senior Fellow at Keble College, Oxford.