Dr. Carl Zipper

School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Carl E. Zipper is a professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist for crop and soil environmental sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1986, Zipper has worked to apply and extend scientific concepts to improve environmental restoration and management in coal-mining areas. Much of his outreach is through the Powell River Project (PRP), for which he serves as director.

Dr. Zipper’s current research focus is restoration of mined lands, management of water resources influenced by coal mining in Appalachia, and development of nutrient criteria for the Commonwealth of Virginia. His instructional activities include a junior-level course, Fundamentals of Environmental Science; and a graduate course, Environmental Science Concepts for Professionals.


Other current activities address a variety of environmental issues with an emphasis on the interface of environmental science with government policy. He advises the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality as a member of the agency’s Academic Advisory Committee; and serves as a member of the US Office of Surface Mining’s Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative Science Team, and the Clinch-Powell Clean Rivers Initiative Executive and Science Teams.

Long term, Dr. Zipper plans to explore how “lessons learned” from coal mine reclamation might apply to ecosystem restoration science more generally.


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Recent Relevant Publications

Hester E.T., K.L. Little, J.D. Buckwalter, C.E. Zipper, T.J. Burbey. 2019. Variability of subsurface structure and infiltration hydrology among surface coal mine valley fills. Science of the Total Environment 651: 2648–2661.

Vander Vorste R., A.J. Timpano, C. Cappellin, B.D. Badgley, C.E. Zipper, S.H. Schoenholtz. 2019. Microbial and macroinvertebrate communities, but not leaf decomposition, change along a mining-induced salinity gradient. Freshwater Biology 64:671–684.

Clark E.V., W.L. Daniels, C.E. Zipper, K. Eriksson. 2018. Mineralogical influences on water quality from weathering of surface coal mine spoils. Applied Geochemistry 91: 97-106.

Clark E.V., C.E. Zipper, W.L. Daniels, M.J. Keefe. 2018. Appalachian coal mine spoil elemental release patterns and depletion. Applied Geochemistry 98: 109-120.

Franke M., C.E. Zipper J.N Barney. 2018. Native hardwood tree seedling establishment following invasive autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) removal on a reclaimed coal mine. Invasive Plant Science and Management 11: 155-161.

Franke M., C.E. Zipper J.N Barney. 2018. Invasive autumn olive performance varies in different reclamation conditions: implications for restoration. Restoration Ecology https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12906

Krenz R.J., C.E. Zipper, S.H. Schoenholtz. 2018. Periphyton structure and function in constructed headwater streams of the Appalachian coalfield. Freshwater Science 38: 780-794.

Timpano A.J., S.H. Schoenholtz, D.J. Soucek, C.E. Zipper. 2018. Benthic macroinvertebrate community response to salinization in headwater streams in Appalachia USA over multiple years. Ecological Indicators 91: 645-656.

Timpano A.J., C.E. Zipper, D.J. Soucek, S.H. Schoenholtz. 2018. Seasonal pattern of anthropogenic salinization in temperate forested headwater streams. Water Research 133: 8-18.

Whitmore K.D., S.H. Schoenholtz, D.J. Soucek, W.A. Hopkins, C.E. Zipper. 2018. Selenium dynamics in headwater streams of the central Appalachian coalfield. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 37:2714–2726