José A. Constantine

Photo of José A. Constantine

Associate Professor of Geosciences

Wachenheim Science Center Rm 201
At Williams since 2016


B.S. College of William and Mary (1999)
M.S. University of California, Davis (2002)
Ph.D. University of California, Santa Barbara (2008)

Areas of Expertise

Geomorphology and Environmental Justice

Scholarship/Creative Work

I am the son of an immigrant and the first person in my family to go to college. I had a general interest in the natural environment, but it was not until I had the opportunity to do research as an undergraduate (REU Internship) that I became curious about science as a potential career. I was inspired by the discovery that our planet changes in significant and observable ways each and every day, and I was eager to learn why.

I have since devoted most of my scholarship to fluvial geomorphology, where I try to answer questions that might unlock the mysteries of how rivers reshape the landscape. Tropical rivers have been a special focus, but I have also been fascinated by our attempts to tame the Mississippi River, North America’s largest and arguably most important river.

My curiosity with the Mississippi led me to Walter Johnson’s River of Dark Dreams, which changed my perspective of river management. In the lower Mississippi, river processes have been curtailed for the benefit of an agricultural economy that depends on the subjugation of people. Once this connection was made, I became committed to scholarship and activism in environmental justice, which has led to impactful collaborations with colleagues in Africana Studies, Environmental Studies, and Chemistry. Our current work involves partnerships with communities in Illinois and Florida facing sustained flooding, contamination, and injustice.

To learn more about our commitment to addressing climate and environmental injustice, please visit the Williams Environmental Justice Clinic.

My experience of research as an undergraduate was truly transformative. As a result, I’m excited to involve students in my work and to help them design projects that reflect their own curiosities. If you’re at all interested in geomorphology and environmental justice, please get in touch.

My Current Thesis Students and Their Projects:

  • Emily Hugo (’23) – Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of the Floodplain Storage of Polychlorinated Biphenyls, co-advised with David Dethier and Jay Thoman
  • T.J. Watkins (’23) – Geomorphology and Environmental Change of the Red River, Oklahoma

Recent Papers (*denotes student author).  Full publication list on Google Scholar.

  1. *Thomas, S.-S., Constantine, J.A., Dethier, D., Thoman, Jr., J.W., Racela, J., *Blau, E., Landis, J.D., 2022, The importance of oxbow lakes in the floodplain storage of pollutants. Geology (
  2. Richards, D., Konsoer, K., Langendoen, E., Ursic, M., Constantine, J., 2021, Depositional patterns of slowly plugging neck cutoffs from core analysis and estimates of bedload transport, White River, Arkansas. Sedimentology (
  3. Manigault-Bryant, J.A., *Bagwyn, R., Constantine, J.A., 2020, Poisoning Tallevast, in Cohen, J. and Chasman, D., eds., Climate Action: Cambridge, Massachusetts, Boston Review Forum 16, p. 78-96 (
  4. Ciampalini, R., Constantine, J.A., *Walker-Springett, K.J., Hales, T.C., Ormerod, S.J., Hall, I.R., 2020, Modelling soil erosion responses to climate change in three catchments of Great Britain. Science of the Total Environment, v. 749, no. 141657 (
  5. *Qin, Y., Alves, T.M., Constantine, J.A., Gamboa, D., 2020, Effect of channel tributaries on the evolution of submarine channel confluences (Espírito Santo Basin, SE Brazil). GSA Bulletin, v. 132, p. 263-272 (

Awards, Fellowships & Grants

NSF Award 2026789: Invisible Floods on the Mississippi River Floodplain: Unravelling the Causes of Urban Flooding in a Community-Centered Approach to Geomorphology ($135,071; 1 Aug 2020 to 31 July 2024).

Current Committees

  • Committee on Priorities and Resources
  • Standing Grievance Panel