Christopher Thornton, PhD.

Associate Professor

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Fields of Expertise


Areas of Interest

Erosion and sedimentation, River mechanics


Dr. Christopher Thornton, PhD, PE, currently holds an Associate Professor position in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering serves as the Director of the Engineering Research Center and Hydraulics Laboratory at Colorado State University. Dr. Thornton is currently the PI on the United States Army Corps of Engineers Full Scale Wave Overtopping Simulation project. This project is intended to simulate waves hitting levees, crashing across the top and accelerating down the backside to see what effect they have on different types of grass and armoring systems. In addition, during the past six years, work conducted at the Hydraulics Laboratory has been instrumental in defining and developing standards for performance testing of engineered erosion control solutions. Partnerships formed with other research institutions have resulted in interdisciplinary collaborations that have defined frameworks describing the complex problem of soil erosion and stability. Dr. Thornton provides technical expertise to University and local communities in areas of hydraulics, open-channel flow, bio-engineering, river mechanics and erosion control. He supervises hydraulic modeling in areas of river mechanics, dam safety, flow measurement, erosion and sedimentation, riprap design, bank revetment and stabilization, stream monitoring, environmental aspects of rivers, hydraulic structures, and tailings management. Dr. Thornton earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University. He is a member of ASCE, ASTM, AWRA, ECTC, EWRI and IECA.