Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

Earth Sciences Division Staff: Michael Kowalsky

Michael Kowalsky

Michael B. Kowalsky

Research Scientist

Hydrogeology Department



Phone: 510-486-7314

Fax: 510-486-5686



Development of approaches for the integrated characterization, modeling, and monitoring of subsurface processes using hydrological and geophysical data for applications including environmental remediation, CO2 sequestration, nuclear waste disposal, gas hydrates, and water resources. Experience in applying numerical, geostatistical, and inverse modeling techniques to a variety of problems in hydrology and geophysics


  • PhD, University of California, Berkeley, Civil and Environmental Engineering (2003)
  • MS, University of California, Berkeley, Civil and Environmental Engineering (1999)
  • BS, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, Engineering and Environmental Science (1997)

Research Interests

  • Hydrogeophysics
  • Coupled hydrogeophysical inversion (joint inversion of hydrological and geophysical data)
  • Aquifer characterization using inverse modeling and data integration approaches
  • Simulation of gas hydrate behavior and geophysical response
  • Geostatistical and numerical methods in hydrogeology and geophysics


  • Since 2006, Research Scientist, Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, California 
  • 2004 – 2005, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Earth Sciences Division, LBNL, Berkeley, California
  • 2000 – 2003, Graduate Student Researcher, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1999 – 2000, Annual Research Grant Recipient (DAAD), Dept. of Applied Geology, University of Tübingen, Germany
  • 1997 – 1999, Graduate Student Researcher, Earth Sciences Division, LBNL, Berkeley, California
  • 1995 – 1997, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Dept. of Civil Engineering, University of Notre Dame, Indiana
  • Summer 1995, Software Development Internship, Information Technology Dept., Forest Hospital, Des Plaines, Illinois       


  • Member of teams receiving Technology Transfer Award (2005), Outstanding Performance Award (2006), and
    Director’s Award for Exceptional Achievement (2012) at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.
  • Author of 6th most requested article in Advances in Water Resources  (Apr. 2004 – Mar. 2005)

Sample Publications (Go here for complete list)

  • Kowalsky, M.B., S. Finsterle, M. Commer, K.H. Williams, C. Murray, D. Newcomer, A. Englert, C.I. Steefel, and S.S. Hubbard, 2012. On parameterization of the inverse problem for estimating aquifer properties using tracer data, Water Resour. Res., 48, W06535, doi:10.1029/2011WR011203.
  • Kowalsky, M. B., E. Gasperikova, S. Finsterle, D. Watson, G. Baker, and S. S. Hubbard, 2011. Coupled modeling of hydrogeochemical and electrical resistivity data for exploring the impact of recharge on subsurface contamination, Water Resour. Res., 47, W02509, doi:10.1029/2009WR008947.
  • Kowalsky, M.B., S. Nakagawa, and G.J. Moridis, 2010. Feasibility of monitoring gas hydrate production with time-lapse vertical seismic profiling, SPE Journal, 15(3), 634-645. SPE-132508-PA. doi: 10.2118/132508-PA.
  • Kowalsky, M.B., J. Birkholzer, J. Peterson, S. Finsterle, S. Mukhopadhyay, and Y. Tsang, 2008. Sensitivity analysis for joint inversion of GPR and thermal-hydrological data from a large-scale underground heater test,  Nuclear Technology, 164(2), 196-206.
  • Kowalsky, M.B., and G. J. Moridis, 2007. Comparison of kinetic and equilibrium reactions in simulating the behavior of gas hydrates, Energy Conversion and Management, 48, 1850-1863, doi:10.1016/j.enconman.2007.01.017.
  • Kowalsky, M.B., S. Finsterle, J. Peterson, S. Hubbard, Y. Rubin, E. Majer, A. Ward, and G. Gee, 2005. Estimation of field-scale soil hydraulic and dielectric parameters through joint inversion of GPR and hydrological data, Water Resour. Res., 41, W11425, doi:10.1029/2005WR004237.
  • Kowalsky, M.B., S. Finsterle, and Y. Rubin, 2004. Estimating flow parameter distributions using ground-penetrating radar and hydrological measurements during transient flow in the vadose zone, Adv. in Water Res., 27(6), 583-599.
  • Kowalsky, M.B., P. Dietrich, G. Teutsch, and Y. Rubin, 2001. Forward modeling of ground-penetrating radar data using digitized outcrop images and multiple scenarios of water saturation, Water Resour. Res., 37(6), 1615-1625 (2001WR900015).