Martin Helmke, Ph.D

Associate Professor, Chair of the Department
Office Hours: T/R 9:15-11; T 2:30-4
Office Phone: 610-436-3565
Office Location: Merion 211
Courses Taught:
Hydrogeology, Fundamentals of Soil, Applied Soil Classification, Introductory Geology, Graduate Seminar, and Geology of National Parks

B.S., Environmental Science (Geology), Antioch College
Ph.D., Geology and Water Resources, Iowa State University

Dr. Helmke is a hydrogeologist with over 20 years experience as an educator and environmental consultant. Before joining West Chester University, he taught at Dickinson College, Iowa State University, Antioch College, and Directed the Geology Field Camp for Iowa State University and University of Nebraska in Shell, Wyoming. He has worked for the U.S. Geological Survey (Reston, Virginia), Versar (Springfield, Virginia), HydroLog (Yellow Springs, Ohio), Boyden Caverns (Kings Canyon, California) and Aquadrill (Coralville, Iowa).

Graduate and undergraduate students are the foundation of Dr. Helmke’s research program. Recent projects and student collaborators include:

Dr. Helmke next to drilling machine
  • Simulation of groundwater-coupled heat transport through fractured gneiss in WCU’s geothermal borefield (Denise Gatlin, Jacob Thompson, and Angela Reed),
  • Evaluation of sinkhole propagation and stormwater management BMPs in Pennsylvania (Molly Diggory),
  • Prediction of groundwater mounding beneath large-scale sewage infiltration systems,
  • Hydrologic performance characterization of step pool stormwater management systems (Jordan Rajan),
  • Hazardous materials spill response in Chester County (Jason Corbett),
  • Arsenic contamination in soil beneath an abandoned apple orchard (Ashley Cabibbo), and
  • Water rescue, risk, and flood modeling in suburban watersheds (Gregory Witmer, Daniel Wojton).
Dr. Helmke with workers

Dr. Helmke employs service-learning in most of his upper-level courses by encouraging his students to apply their geologic skills to assist the community with real-world, geologic issues and projects. He also serves the community alongside his students as a member of the Chester County Hazardous Materials Team, the Pennsylvania Company 2 Natural-Disaster Response Team, the Fame Fire Company, and the WCU QRS Medical Service.