Derek Heeren

Derek Heeren, Ph.D., P.E.

Contact Information:
241 L.W. Chase Hall
Lincoln: East Campus
(402) 472-8577

Assistant Professor of Irrigation Engineering
Water for Food Global Institute Faculty Fellow
Academic Degrees
  • Ph.D., Biosystems Engineering, Oklahoma State University, 2012
  • M.S., Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, South Dakota State University, 2008
  • B.S., Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, South Dakota State University, 2004
  • Licensed Professional Engineer, State of Oklahoma

  • 58% Research
  • 40% Teaching
  • 2% Service
Areas of Research and Professional Interest
International Activities
  • Double degree program (M.S.) with the Water for Food Global Institute (WFI) and the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands: Advanced Water Management for Food Production
  • Research partnership with the Water for Food Global Institute (WFI) and the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Delhi, India: Improving Water Management, Agricultural Production and Food Security in Drought-Prone Areas
Fountain Wars Student Club
Courses Taught

About Derek Heeren

The overarching objective of Derek's research program is to enhance and improve both the sustainability of water resources (water quantity and water quality) and the profitability of agricultural production in Nebraska and the Great Plains. The objective of his teaching program is to prepare students to be wise managers of irrigation, water resources, and agricultural systems. Derek obtained his doctorate while working as a Research Engineer in the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department at Oklahoma State University. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural and biosystems engineering from South Dakota State University. Before graduate school, Derek spent two years working at a geotechnical engineering firm in the St. Louis, Missouri, area. Derek grew up in southeastern South Dakota on a farm that included corn, soybean, alfalfa, dairy, and beef production. During high school he developed an interest in conserving natural resources while participating in FFA land judging and natural resources competitions.

Honors and Awards

  • Distinguished Alumnus Award. 2017. Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, South Dakota State University.
  • Honoree, recognized for performing highly impactful research. 2017. UNL College of Engineering.
  • ASABE Superior Paper Award. 2016. For the refereed journal article: Heeren, D. M., G. A. Fox, and D. E. Storm. 2015. Heterogeneity of infiltration rates in alluvial floodplains as measured with a berm infiltration technique. Transactions of the ASABE 58(3): 733-745. 
  • New Faces of Engineering recognition by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. 2012.
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) STAR Graduate Fellowship. 2011-2012.

Selected Publications

Refereed Journal Articles (since 2014):