Derek Heeren, Ph.D., P.E.

Associate Professor and Irrigation Engineer
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

New Textbook: Irrigation Systems Management

More information:


  • 58% Research
  • 40% Teaching
  • 2% Service

Curriculum Vitae (CV):

Areas of Research and Professional Interest

Research Interests:

  • Irrigation engineering and management
  • Sprinkler and variable rate irrigation systems
  • Irrigation management based on remote sensing
  • Nitrate leaching to groundwater
  • International irrigation development

Teaching Interests:

  • Irrigation management
  • Mechanized systems management
  • Irrigation and water resources engineering

Research Profiles:

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. His current research interests include sprinkler irrigation, variable rate irrigation, irrigation management based on remote sensing, international irrigation development, and vadose zone hydrology. The objective of his teaching program is to prepare students to be wise managers of irrigation, water resources, and agricultural systems. He is focused on irrigation education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Derek is the Partnership Coordinator for the partnership between the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI) and the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands, which includes a double degree program (M.S.) in Advanced Water Management for Food Production. Before starting his research and teaching career, Derek spent two years working at a civil engineering firm in the St. Louis, Missouri, area. Derek grew up on a farm in southeastern South Dakota and developed an interest in conserving natural resources while participating in FFA land judging and natural resources competitions.

Honors and Awards

  • A. W. Farrall Young Educator Award. 2018. Amercian Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award. 2017. Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, South Dakota State University.
  • ASABE Superior Paper Award. 2016. For the refereed journal article: Heeren, D. M., G. A. Fox, and D. E. Storm. Heterogeneity of infiltration rates in alluvial floodplains as measured with a berm infiltration technique.
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) STAR Graduate Fellowship. 2011-2012.

Selected Publications

Selected Journal Articles: