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Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award

Information on the award

The Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award is presented annually and recognizes outstanding contributions to hydrology through research, education, or societal impacts. Successful nominees are early-career scientists who demonstrate outstanding contributions to hydrologic sciences, education, or societal impacts and show exceptional promise of continued contributions to hydrology throughout their career.

Woman Biological Researcher Taking a Water Sample from a stream.

Award benefits

AGU is proud to recognize our section honorees. Recipients of the Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award will receive the following benefits along with the honor:

  • 1

    Award certificate

  • 2

    Recognition in Eos

  • 3

    Recognition at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year

  • 4

    Complimentary ticket to the Hydrology section luncheon that occurs at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year


To better understand eligibility for nominators, supporters and Hydrologic Early Career Award Committee members, review AGU’s Honors Conflict of Interest Policy.

  • The nominee is not required to be an active AGU member.
  • The following individuals are not eligible to be candidates for the award during their terms of service:
    • AGU President;
    • AGU President-elect;
    • Council Leadership Team members;
    • Honors and Recognition Committee members;
    • Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award Committee members; and
    • All full-time AGU staff
    • Hydrology Section leadership (President, President-Elect, Secretary, Past President is ineligible until one year after completion of service)

  • Nominators are not required to hold an active AGU membership.
  • The following individuals are not eligible to be nominators for the award during their terms of service:
    • AGU President;
    • AGU President-elect;
    • Council Leadership Team members;
    • Honors and Recognition Committee members;
    • Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award Committee members; and
    • All full-time AGU staff

  • Individuals who write letters of support for the nominee are not required to be active AGU members.
  • The following individuals are not eligible to be supporters for the award during their terms of service:
    • AGU President;
    • AGU President-elect;
    • Council Leadership Team members;
    • Honors and Recognition Committee members;
    • Hydrologic Sciences Award Committee members; and
    • All full-time AGU staff

The following relationships need to be identified and communicated to the Award Committee but will not disqualify individuals from participating in the nomination or committee review process. These apply to committee members, nominators, and supporters:

  • Current dean, departmental chair, supervisor, supervisee, laboratory director, an individual with whom one has a current business or financial relationship (e.g., business partner, employer, employee);
  • Research collaborator or co-author within the last three years; and/or
  • An individual working at the same institution or having accepted a position at the same institution.

Individuals with the following relationships are disqualified from participating in the award nomination process as a nominator or supporter:

  • Family member, spouse, or partner.
  • A previous graduate (Master’s or Ph.D.) and/or postdoctoral advisor, or postdoctoral fellow may not write a nomination letter but may write a supporting letter after five years of terminating their relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the relationship was terminated.
  • A former doctoral or graduate student, or a former postdoctoral fellow may not write a nomination letter for a former advisor but may write a supporting letter after five years of terminating their relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the relationship was terminated.

Nomination process

The Hydrology Section has adopted a two-round process for its Section Awards to allow a more flexible, open and efficient development of the Section’s talent pool. The first round of nominations, open from 15 January 2021 through 1 March 2021 requires only a letter from the lead nominator, the nominee’s CV and optionally, a Selected Bibliography. The Early Career award committee will review the first round nominations and request full nomination packages from a select number of applicants (nominally 5) for further consideration.  The procedures and requirements for both first and second round packages are outlined below:

First Round nomination packages are to be emailed directly to: Antonio Covington and received no later than midnight, EST, March 1, 2021.

First Round Requirements:

  • Nomination letter, no more than two pages in length, stressing the nominee’s qualifications to meet the selection criteria and qualifications as stated in the award description. The nomination letter must also list at least three potential writers of letters of support.
  • The nominee’s CV, no more than two pages in length, and containing the following information as a minimum: CVs must list all the following candidate information: name, mailing and email address, history of employment, degrees, research experience, honors, memberships, service to the community through committee work, advisory boards, etc.
  • A Selected Bibliography, no more than two pages in length, may be included in the first round nomination package, but is not required for first round consideration. The Selected Bibliography should briefly state the total number and types of publications; specify the number published in AGU publications. For example: “Jane Doe is the author of 92 publications, 86 in peer-reviewed scientific journals, 14 of which have been published in AGU journals and books. The following selected list best supports Jane’s nomination for AGU Fellow.”

Second round notification to all nominators will occur on or around March 15, 2021. Full nomination packages due to AGU through the Open Waters Award system by April 15, 2021.

Second Round Requirements

  • The nomination letter may be up to two pages in length and should stress the nominee’s qualifications to meet the selection criteria and qualifications. The nomination letter should clearly document the contributions to the science of hydrology, education, or societal impacts at an early stage in their careers.
  • The nominee’s CV will be no more than two pages in length and contain the following information as a minimum: CVs must list all the following candidate information: name, mailing and email address, history of employment, degrees, research experience, honors, memberships, service to the community through committee work, advisory boards, etc.
  • A Selected Bibliography, no more than two pages in length, must be included. The Selected Bibliography should briefly state the total number and types of publications; specify the number published in AGU publications. For example: “Jane Doe is the author of 92 publications, 86 in peer-reviewed scientific journals, 14 of which have been published in AGU journals and books. The following selected list best supports Jane’s nomination for AGU Fellow.”
  • Up to three letters of support, each no more than two pages in length.

For any questions on the process, timing or any issues, please contact Antonio Covington or Ana Barros, Section President



Nominations are now closed. The 2022 Nominations for all AGU honors will open on 17 January.

Picture of mountains with trees in the foreground in the Khumbu region near Mt. Everest


Field Photo:

Simone Fatichi Field Photo

Field Photo:

Veronica Morales Field Photo

Niko Wanders


Megan Konar, Di Long, and Kaveh Madani received the Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2019, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “scientists who demonstrate outstanding contributions to hydrologic sciences, education, or societal impacts and show exceptional promise of continued contributions to hydrology throughout their career.”



Megan Konar’s scholarship has transformed our understanding of how economic and social forces influence global hydrologic flows and clarified the effects of these coupled dynamics on water security challenges. She has distinguished herself as a scholar who is exceptionally creative in addressing compelling water resources questions in coupled human–natural systems. Megan can move—seemingly effortlessly—between fundamental contributions to the field and more general synthesis and integrative work that resonates across academia. In my opinion, her capacity to integrate disciplinary expertise and multidisciplinary impact is something that Megan does better than any other young hydrologist working today.

At Princeton University, Megan’s Ph.D. research was the first to quantify the global virtual water trade network and to assess its temporal dynamics. She has continued to build on those efforts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is addressing how climate change and trade policies combine to affect water use for the countries of the world. Most recently, she has shown that open trade leads to less water use for nations, on average. These efforts are notable not just for the breadth of their intellectual ambition but also for the depth of rigor with which she addresses such complex, multidisciplinary topics.

In every one of her research manuscripts, Megan asks insightful questions and adopts novel quantitative approaches to reveal the fundamental roles that agricultural water use and food trade play in governing the vulnerability and resiliency of coupled water and food systems. She is conducting trailblazing work and successfully mentoring her students to push the boundaries of what it means to do interdisciplinary water resources science. In all respects, Dr. Konar’s research trajectory has already established her as a world leader in the study of the water–food–trade nexus and the characterization of coupled natural–human water resources systems.

—Kelly Caylor, University of California, Santa Barbara


I am deeply honored to receive the Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award. This award is particularly meaningful to me because my research is interdisciplinary, yet I have always felt welcomed and encouraged by the AGU hydrology community. First and foremost, I would like to thank Kelly Caylor for his nomination and generous citation. He is my role model and a constant source of inspiration. In addition, I would like to thank Arjen Hoekstra, George Hornberger, Bridget Scanlon, and Eric Wood for their support throughout the nomination process and my career. Murugesu Sivapalan has been an essential mentor and advocate for me during my early faculty career.

I was lucky to have an amazing cohort during my Ph.D. at Princeton. I would not be where I am today without my grad school friends and mentors. Ignacio Rodríguez-Iturbe was a wonderful advisor who pushed me to ask exciting questions and strive for elegant solutions. Carole Dalin and I were in the same group and have been close collaborators and friends ever since. I am also deeply grateful for Tara Troy’s friendship and peer mentoring for more than a decade.

I am especially indebted to my amazing students and collaborators, with whom I share this award. My colleagues in civil and environmental engineering at Illinois have been wonderful to work with. I benefited from camaraderie and weekly lunches with my Hydro colleagues (Ximing Cai, Marcelo Garcia, Praveen Kumar, Gary Parker, Art Schmidt, Ashlynn Stillwell, Rafael Tinoco, and Albert Valocchi). I had two children on the tenure clock and am grateful for the family-friendly atmosphere and policies at Illinois. My children, Sarah, 6, and Sam, 3, are constantly entertaining and a source of motivation. Rus Irani, my husband, has been instrumental to everything and has made it all a wonderfully fun journey.

—Megan Konar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Megan Konar, Di Long, and Kaveh Madani received the Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2019, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “scientists who demonstrate outstanding contributions to hydrologic sciences, education, or societal impacts and show exceptional promise of continued contributions to hydrology throughout their career.”



Di Long is receiving the Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award for pioneering work aimed at monitoring space–time dynamics of the water balance using remote sensing. His major contributions include development of remote sensing methods to retrieve almost every term in the land surface water balance with high accuracy and spatiotemporal resolution. Remote sensing algorithms he has developed have been incorporated into hydrological models to address snow and ice melt contributions to total runoff in alpine regions.

Di Long’s early work focused on evapotranspiration estimation using thermal infrared remote sensing. He developed parameterization schemes of energy balance for dry and wet limits of soil moisture, through interpretations of the relationships among land surface temperature, vegetation cover, and soil moisture, helping to improve earlier generations of models of spatial evapotranspiration. In later work, he expanded his research to the estimation of large-scale changes in groundwater storage using data from gravimetric satellites (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE)) and to improving the spatial resolution and reliability of water storage changes. Back in China, he developed algorithms to retrieve precipitation, river water levels, and discharge, as well as soil moisture, in the Tibetan Plateau. These have led to major improvements in the understanding of hydrological processes over alpine regions.

Rapid development of satellite remote sensing has provided an unprecedented opportunity to capture spatiotemporal variability in atmospheric and land surface processes and properties and to address scientific questions related to predictions in ungauged basins. Dr Long is positioned at the cutting edge of this exciting area of research and is destined for a stellar career combining hydrological modeling and remote sensing at large scales. Di Long’s outstanding contributions to research, his mentoring of students, and his leadership of and service to the hydrological community merit his receiving the Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award.

—Murugesu Sivapalan, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


I am honored and delighted to receive this prestigious award. First and foremost, I am grateful to Murugesu Sivapalan for his generous nomination; the honors committee; the AGU Hydrology section; my advisors, Vijay Singh and Bridget Scanlon; and Martyn Clark, for their support. I appreciate all of the people who have helped me with my career.

I was very much inspired by the groundbreaking work of many pioneers who have advanced the field of remote sensing in hydrology. I have been keenly interested in hydrology and remote sensing since my Ph.D. work under Vijay Singh at Texas A&M University. Following that, I enjoyed working with Bridget Scanlon and Laurent Longuevergne at the University of Texas at Austin, who generously helped me expand my expertise to include GRACE and land surface models. Since that time, my vision of remote sensing in hydrology has been broadened by looking at water storage changes from many different angles. This has helped me understand the strengths and limitations of different approaches and to try to capitalize on the distinct advantages of each.

It is my privilege to work with many passionate students and colleagues at Tsinghua University on the hydrology of the Tibetan Plateau, which affects freshwater availability for many downstream Asian countries. The combination of remote sensing, ground measurements, and modeling has great potential for improving our understanding of hydrological processes under a changing environment, which should help to mitigate climate change impacts on society. I plan to continue to pursue this topic throughout my career. As ever more satellites are launched and more cutting-edge observation technology developed, hydrology should exploit data analytics and artificial intelligence to continue our rapid progress into the future.

And last but not least, I am indebted to my parents, my wife, and my son for their strong support and enduring love.

—Di Long, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

Megan Konar, Di Long, and Kaveh Madani received the Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2019, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “scientists who demonstrate outstanding contributions to hydrologic sciences, education, or societal impacts and show exceptional promise of continued contributions to hydrology throughout their career.”



Kaveh Madani receives this award for his fundamental contributions to integrating game theory and decision analysis methods into conventional water resources systems models. His proven dedication to education, outreach, raising public awareness on environmental and climate issues, and selfless service to the hydrologic sciences community has had major societal impacts.

Kaveh is without doubt among the most productive, well-cited, and active members of our community, with exemplary work at the interface of science, policy, and society. His influence on our profession and the real world over the years has been both consistent and striking. The research questions he asks and addresses are creative, provocative, and socially meaningful, a combination that is unique in academia.

The number of Kaveh’s innovative, scientifically rigorous, and interdisciplinary publications in our top professional journals is as impressive as the breadth of his research portfolio, which spans the areas of hydrology, engineering, systems analysis, economics, and human behavior. Kaveh’s pioneering argument that traditional water management models suffer inherently from a full-cooperation and group rationality assumption has spawned new research directions and garnered the attention of thought leaders in the field.

Kaveh’s success in bridging the gap between academic theory and practice is exemplary. He is highly respected in the field for his strong leadership both within (e.g., chair of AGU’s Water and Society Technical Committee) and outside of academia. He has served as a tireless promoter of our scientific community and has been truly dedicated to raising public awareness around key water, environmental, agricultural, and climate change issues.

Other unique accomplishments of Kaveh include his unprecedented societal impacts and contributions as a politician and ambassador of our field in the real world. He is among the few scientists in the AGU community who has had the courage, capacity, and credibility to serve as a high-level environmental decision-maker at national and international levels (e.g., deputy minister of environment in Iran and vice president of the U.N. Environment Assembly Bureau).

Kaveh Madani is indeed an unparalleled early-career role model in our field with an extraordinary record compared with his peers at his career stage. For all his contributions, the Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award is a richly deserved recognition.

—Rajagopalan Balaji, AGU Fellow; Chair, Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder


Thank you so much, Balaji, for leading the nomination and for your generous citation. I am also grateful to those colleagues who kindly supported this nomination. As a nontraditional hydrologist who is still having a hard time publishing papers in water resources journals because of talking too much about the human dimension of water and natural resources problems, I am truly humbled and honored to receive this award. I would like to thank AGU and the Hydrology section for this encouraging recognition, which I owe to my remarkable collaborators, students, and mentors.

My deepest gratitude goes to the mentors who have positively affected my life and led me to this point. My professors at the University of Tabriz supported my ambitious plans as the chair of the civil engineering students club and gave me the courage to lead big groups and projects. Rolf Larsson (Lund University) encouraged my move to North America after studies in Iran and Sweden. His positive feedback on an immature work of mine to capture the dynamic feedback relationship between water and society gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my research interests at the interface of engineering, science, and policy. Keith Hipel (University of Waterloo) got me interested in game theory when I spent a semester with him in Canada before moving to the United States. Jay Lund (University of California, Davis), my Ph.D. adviser, was always supportive of my curiosity in taking random courses in law, economics, and political science. He encouraged me to do more work on game theory to develop my own niche of research and independence. Ariel Dinar (University of California, Riverside), my postdoc adviser, gave me the freedom of doing what I liked even though the path was not that clear at the time. Our heated debates over the mathematical sophistication and practical validity of various engineering, economic, and natural science methods certainly made me a better communicator when working with people of other disciplines.

Special thanks go to my students, postdocs, and research group members for their hard work and indispensable contributions to my success. Working with and learning from them have been a true pleasure.

I have benefited from the friendship and wisdom of many colleagues during my unusual career. I wish I could name them all here, but I want to make special mention of Amir AghaKouchak, Ali Alaeipour, Abbas Amanat, Ali Bagheri, Ronny Berndtsson, Michael Campana, Andrea Castelletti, Greg Characklis, Gia Destouni, Julien Harou, Zahra Kalantari, Mohammad Karamouz, Joe Kasprzyk, Björn Klöve, Hugo Loaiciga, Pete Loucks, Arash Marashi, Miguel Mariño, Josue Medellin-Azuara, Ali Mirchi, Amin Moazedi, Hamid Moradkhani, Sarah Null, Marcelo Olivares, Laura Read, Pat Reed, Debra Reinhart, Omid Rouhani, David Rosenberg, Soroosh Sorooshian, and Cintia Uvo for their generous support and for making my academic journey memorable and exciting.

Last but not least, I would like to thank my family for their unconditional love and support throughout my life. They have made and continue to make many sacrifices for me to realize my goals and aspirations.

—Kaveh Madani, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

Yoshihide Wada will receive the 2018 Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2018, to be held 10–14 December in Washington, D. C. The award “acknowledges early career prominence and promise of continued contributions to hydrologic science.”



Yoshihide Wada represents a new breed of hydrologist, perfectly fitting the era of the Anthropocene. His pioneering work focuses on capturing the human footprint in the global hydrological cycle.

Yoshi developed a global hydrologic model that integrates human water use at much finer spatiotemporal resolutions, and with a stronger process base, than has been possible before. Using this model, he separated human impacts (water use, reservoirs, etc.) from natural climate variability in global runoff and identified the importance of groundwater resources in global water assessments, which previously lacked adequate attention. He carried out the first global quantitative assessment of groundwater use and depletion, the first global and regional assessments of transboundary groundwater stress, and a global assessment of how irrigation is maintained through unsustainable groundwater exploitation. His work on global groundwater depletion has fundamentally transformed world water assessments. He is the lead author of a landmark paper that estimated groundwater depletion globally and connected it to sea level rise and is a coauthor of the WG1 paper in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth and forthcoming sixth assessment reports.

With degrees from the University of Western Australia, the University of Tokyo, and Utrecht University, he has recently taken up a leadership position as deputy director of the water program at the prestigious International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), where he is directing numerous projects, for example, on establishing robust hydrological models that can be applied under different hydrological and societal settings worldwide, and on developing novel methods of stakeholder engagement whereby robust hydrological knowledge can be translated into informed policy development and governance.

In my opinion, Dr. Wada’s work represents some of the most important advances in the climate–water–society interface in recent years. He has changed our perceptions of how water interacts with human activities in the global hydrological cycle.

—Günter Blöschl, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria


I am deeply honored and grateful to be the recipient of this award. First and foremost, I would like to thank Günter Blöschl for his nomination and generous citation and for being an inspiration to me in many different ways. I am also deeply grateful to Murugesu Sivapalan, who has been a fantastic mentor over many years and has made me a better scientist and person. Moreover, I would like to thank Taikan Oki, Jay Famiglietti, Howard Wheater, Eric Wood, Bridget Scanlon, and Paul Dirmeyer for their strong support and encouragement throughout the nomination process and my career.

I come from a social science background, and I always wanted to bring the human dimension more into hydrology. My endeavor as a hydrologist started at Utrecht University with my mentors, Marc Bierkens and Rens van Beek. Majid Hassanizadeh and Ruud Schotting also taught me fundamental knowledge of hydrogeology. I am deeply thankful to Marc and Rens, who were always open and provided support when needed. Without their generous support, I would not be here today. Learning hydrology coming from social science was a unique career path, and it was challenging to bridge the interface between the social and natural sciences. However, I have truly enjoyed the experience, owing to our great hydrologic community with numerous forerunners, to whom I would like to dedicate this award for making my work possible and for accepting my new ideas and encouraging me to explore them further. The AGU hydrologic community is very open and accessible, and I am indebted to those who are continuously working to make our community better and to the honors committee for their voluntary service and strong devotion. I would also like to thank Peter Gleick for his pioneering work that always highlighted the importance of scientific contributions to policy making. He has always been my inspiration.

It is a real privilege to work at IIASA with passionate colleagues. Working together with scientists from different disciplines in a community-driven setting to increase community knowledge is something I would love to continue to pursue throughout my career.

—Yoshihide Wada, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria

Amir AghaKouchak will receive the 2017 Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award “acknowledges early career prominence and the promise of continued contributions to hydrologic science.”



It is a great pleasure for me to announce Amir AghaKouchak as the successful recipient of the 2017 AGU Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award for developing new methods for the study of hydrological extremes by combining societal relevance and scientific novelty.

Societal relevance has consistently characterized Amir’s work. One of the most striking examples is provided by his work on anthropogenic drought. Amir led a multidisciplinary team of scientists, and drawing from California’s drought, he developed key insights that are not only scientifically important but also relevant for water resources management in a changing climate. Studies of drought impacts on water resources primarily focus on large-scale atmospheric conditions and ignore the human dimension. Amir’s work has outlined a solid methodological framework for assessing water availability while explicitly considering anthropogenic water demand scenarios and water supply infrastructure designed to cope with climatic extremes.

Scientific novelty has also been an important part of Amir’s work. Amir has developed seminal studies advancing statistical hydrology. In the most recent papers, for example, he co-developed new methods to deal with nonstationary processes. Moreover, throughout his career, he has demonstrated the value of remote sensing data for the study of hydrological extremes and proposed new tools to exploit new sources of information. Amir’s work has been groundbreaking. This is demonstrated by his remarkable publication record, which includes papers in multidisciplinary journals such as Nature, Science, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The impact of Amir’s work has accelerated exponentially over the past few years, speaking to the importance and relevance of his studies. Many scholars have built on his work in many areas of the world. This is also demonstrated by the fact that his research has been well funded by prestigious sources, speaking again to its rigorous character and significance. As a result, only a few years after his Ph.D., Amir has received by the community a solid reputation.

Exceptional productivity, extraordinary outreach, and tireless dedication to students and postdocs did not prevent Amir from providing service to the scientific community. Amir has been an editor and associate editor of various journals including Earth’s Future. He has also been very active within AGU and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences by serving on committees, such as AGU’s Horton Research Grant and Graduate Student Award, and organizing conferences.

In conclusion, groundbreaking research, original ideas, and societal relevance along with unselfish service to the scientific community make Amir AghaKouchak the most deserving candidate for the 2017 AGU Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award.

—Giuliano Di Baldassarre, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden


Thank you, Giuliano, for your generous citation and for leading the nomination! My sincere thanks to Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, Vijay Singh, and Balaji Rajagopalan, who supported the nomination. I am also grateful to the AGU Hydrology section and its president, Jeffrey McDonnell, and the honors committee for this recognition. Receiving this award is certainly a humbling pleasure. But this is not an individual recognition. I believe it reflects the work of my amazing collaborators, students, and postdocs.

Studying and working on three continents and interacting with exceptional scientists from around the world have made my journey very exciting! I was incredibly lucky to work with Andras Bardossy and Emad Habib, who introduced me to statistical hydrology and radar science. I am indebted to both of them for building my analytical skills. Joining Soroosh Sorooshian’s group as a postdoctoral fellow was a life-changing and inspiring experience! Soroosh introduced me to the world of remote sensing and changed my perspective toward research. I could not have imagined a more generous mentor and role model, and I cannot thank him enough for his unwavering support, encouragement, and mentorship over the years. During my postdoc, I had the privilege of collaborating with amazing scientists including Kuolin Hsu, Bisher Imam, Xiaogang Gao, and Jialun Li—a great team with endless ideas!

I thank the University of California, Irvine for taking the leap of faith to appoint me as a faculty member, where I have had the good fortune of working with a diverse group of exceptional colleagues. Special thanks go to Brett Sanders and Stan Grant for integrating me into their interdisciplinary projects and broadening my research; to Richard Matthew and David Feldman for their insights on the broader relevance of our work; to Steven Davis for sharing his brilliant mind and stimulating ideas; to Jim Randerson for his thought-provoking views; to Bill Cooper and Phu Nguyen for their stunningly positive attitude; and to Efi Foufoula-Georgiou for her critical thoughts and the opportunities she has created.

Over the past 7 years, I have had the pleasure of working and publishing with nearly 200 phenomenal scientists. I cannot possibly mention everyone here, but I would like to acknowledge the amazing interactions and stimulating discussions that I have had with Upmanu Lall, Kaveh Madani, Tom Phillips, Ghassem Asrar, Andy Wood, Ali Nazemi, Marty Hoerling, Shrad Shukla, Ali Mirchi, Hamid Norouzi, Travis Huxman, Nasrin Nasrollahi, Jay Lund, Mark Svoboda, Marzi Azarderakhsh, Brian Tarroja, Gianfausto Salvadori, Chiyuan Miao, Farshid Vahedifard, Thomas Wahl, Hamid Moradkhani, Jasper Vrugt, Qingyun Duan, Brian Skahill, and Salvatore Grimaldi. I have learned much from and been influenced by many more scientists than I can list here.

I owe much of this recognition to my current and former students, postdocs, and visiting scholars. I accept this honor with humility and gratitude on their behalf: Linyin Cheng, Ali Mehran, Elisa Ragno, Alireza Farahmand, Omid Mazdiyasni, Charlotte Love, Felicia Chiang, Hassan Anjileli, Alexandre Martinez, Aneseh Alborzi, Austen Nelson, Mohsen Niknejad, Lisa Damberg, Qiaohong Sun, Samaneh Ashraf, Carlos Lima, Zengchao Hao, Shahrbanou Madadgar, Hamed Moftakhari, Mojtaba Sadegh, Iman Mallakpour, Simon Papalexiou, and Laurie Huning. I wholeheartedly appreciate their hard work and dedication and want to thank them for their patience with me!

Finally, I am grateful for the tremendous support I have received from my parents. Heartfelt thanks go also to my lovely wife, Nasrin, who has remained an infinite source of support over the past 12 years; my son, Kian; and soon his little sister, who often have to deal with my time away from home. I owe them so much!

—Amir AghaKouchak, University of California, Irvine

Ciaran Harman will receive the 2016 Early Career Hydrologic Science Award at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 12–16 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for significant early-career contributions to hydrologic science.



Ciaran Harman grew up in Western Australia, where he received undergraduate degrees in Arts and Engineering with first class honors. In 2005 he began graduate studies with Murugesu Sivapalan at the University of Illinois, where he earned a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering in 2011.
I met Ciaran for the first time in 2007 at the Joint Assembly in Acapulco, Mexico. I didn’t know who he was, and he introduced himself as a student of Siva’s working on hillslope processes. He asked me details about my papers that I didn’t even remember, and for the next 3 days he basically stalked me. It was the first sign of his persistence and his desire to understand every little detail of the problem he is working on.

By the time he finished his Ph.D., Ciaran had published 22 papers. This productivity is in part due to his ability to make substantive contributions in collaborative enterprises, including the NSF-funded Hydrological Synthesis Summer Institute of 2008, and the early design meetings for the Landscape Evolution Observatory of Biosphere 2. In 2011, Ciaran joined my research group as a CZO postdoc, exploring catchment co-evolution, and the combination of Newtonian and Darwinian approaches to hydrology. His paper on Darwinian hydrology quickly became a classic on the topic.

Since starting at Johns Hopkins University he has focused on nonstationary flow and transport processes, and his work has helped establish the theory of storage selection functions for lumped transport modeling. Together, we continue to work on transport and co-evolution through two NSF-funded collaborative research projects at Biosphere2.

Ciaran is a wonderful friend and colleague, and is an outstanding mentor to his students. It has been a pleasure to see Ciaran develop from a young Ph.D. student into this year’s Early Career Award recipient.

—Peter Troch, University of Arizona, Tucson


I am grateful to AGU; to the Hydrology section and its chair, Efi Foufoula-Georgiou; to those who nominated me; and most especially to Peter Troch for his unwavering support, and generous citation. I never found Newton’s suggestion of standing on the shoulders of giants to be terribly useful. Following them around at conferences, asking lots of questions, and generally being a pest seemed a more effective strategy.

I didn’t go to grad school with the intent of being a hydrologist. One fateful day I walked into Siva Sivapalan’s office to talk about a little hillslope model I had been playing with. Siva’s response was enthusiastic. Soon we were talking about heterogeneity, scaling, and closure relations—issues that I have returned to ever since. His fascination with these issues became my own.

I have been fortunate to have the mentoring and support of some wonderful people. First among them is Siva—as I work with students of my own I understand more and more the how deft his guidance and support was. But I am indebted to so many—Kitty Lohse, for showing me what tenacity looks like, particularly in the field; Praveen Kumar, for raising my mathematical consciousness; Suresh Rao, for introducing me to transport issues; Peter Wilcock, for his faith; and many more—giants all!

I am most grateful for the opportunity to play—to play with data, to play with technology, to play with theory, and, most especially, to play side by side with others—while searching for insights into real societal and environmental issues. Play is the opportunity to wander beyond our limits, and perhaps find something worth cutting a path back to. It is the best opportunity I can hope to share with the talented students I am privileged to work with.

—Ciaran Harman, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.

Thomas Gleeson will receive the 2015 Early Career Hydrologic Science Award at the 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 14–18 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for significant early career contributions to hydrologic science.



Tom Gleeson is one of the rising stars of international hydrology. Tom’s specific discipline is hydrogeology, which traditionally has demonstrated a tendency toward localism and detailed and complex modeling. Tom has embraced a more holistic approach, and the fast-increasing impact of his work demonstrates the usefulness of a broad perspective. He has tackled key issues in hydrogeology—groundwater depletion, the nature of permeability—and made substantial progress on a global scale.

A major issue facing human society is sustainable water supply for our increasing population. In that context, hydrologic science must attempt to support informed decision making. Tom led a 2012 Nature paper, “Water balance of global aquifers revealed by groundwater footprint,” that revealed that about 2 billion people worldwide live in areas where groundwater resources are stressed. Not content to state the problem, Tom then organized and wrote a series of papers that assessed possible solutions: “Towards sustainable groundwater use: Setting long-term goals, backcasting, and managing adaptively” (Groundwater, 2012, doi:10.1111/j.1745-6584.2011.00825.x), “Regional strategies for the accelerating global problem of groundwater depletion” (Nature Geoscience, 2012, doi:10.1038/ngeo1617), and “Vulnerability of coastal aquifers to groundwater use and climate change” (Nature Climate Change, 2012, doi:10.1038/nclimate1413). In each case, Tom worked with distinguished senior hydrologists as coauthors, so that to some extent these papers serve to represent community opinion.

Tom has taken a similarly global approach to characterization of permeability, the key hydrogeologic parameter that governs groundwater flow, advective heat and solute transport, and the generation of elevated fluid pressures. The variability of permeability is such that it is often considered to defy systematic characterization. Tom’s work has nonetheless revealed some order in globally compiled data; his 2011 Geophysical Research Letters paper “Mapping permeability over the surface of the Earth” (doi:10.1029/2010GL045565) is another visionary effort to synthesize and extend available data to the global scale.

On the basis of these and other precocious accomplishments—impossible to adequately describe within the space constraints—Tom Gleeson is a most worthy recipient of the 2015 Early Career Hydrologic Science Award.

—Steven Ingebritsen, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, Calif.


This award is a huge honor that is both humbling and inspiring. So thank you, Steven and everyone who has supported me along my path.

I love thinking about large-scale, pressing problems with engaging, multidisciplinary colleagues. The seeds of this path were planted during my undergrad in an interdisciplinary department that examines Earth systems holistically; I am still motivated by questions like “How, when, why, and where does groundwater interact with other parts of the earth system?” One particularly important nugget of advice I received at that time was “always hang out with the best people you can; they will inevitably rub off.” Following this advice, I have found a seemingly endless treasure trove of smart, passionate, and kind colleagues, collaborators, mentors, and students. I am thankful to my supervisors, Stephen Johnston, Laurent Godin, Kent Novakowski, and Leslie Smith, who individually have made me a better scientist and person. And I am thankful to interact with many amazing colleagues who continue to propel my research of groundwater systems and sustainability. And above all, I am grateful for the best people that I get to hang out with: my partner, Claire, parents, family, and friends, who definitely make me a better person and always support me, even while sometimes lovingly asking, “Really, you want to research that?”

Sometime during my Ph.D. I became inspired by another question: “How can a hydrogeologist meaningfully contribute to sustainability in a changing world?” I find it very rich and interesting to simultaneously look at the world as a scientist interested in the Earth system and an engineer interested in sustainable water resources. It is an exciting time to study groundwater since it is being studied at larger scales and using tools and approaches from more fields than ever before. Once again, thank you!

—Thomas Gleeson, University of Victoria, Victoria, B. C., Canada

Stefano Manzoni received the 2014 Early Career Hydrologic Science Award at the 2014 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, held 15–19 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for significant early career contributions to hydrologic science.



I am thrilled to announce Stefano Manzoni as the successful recipient of the 2014 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Early Career Hydrologic Science Award for developing new theories of soil water–biota interactions that unfolded the role of soil moisture fluctuations on plant-microbial structure and function. I have known Stefano since he first arrived at Duke University from Polytechnic of Turin (Italy) in 2003 while working as an undergraduate researcher with Professor Amilcare Porporato. Stefano’s Ph.D. work with Amilcare Porporato began in 2004 with a focus on the coupled water/carbon and nutrient cycling in soils. Stefano presented his first results from global-scale litter decomposition data sets that suggest terrestrial decomposers may react to nutrient shortage by respiring more, a response accurately predicted by his stoichiometric theories for these systems. These results appeared in Science the same day Stefano defended his Ph.D. dissertation.

My own interactions with Stefano commenced when he initiated work on stomatal optimality theory that successfully described leaf gas exchange under different environmental conditions, including highly intermittent light and leaf nitrogen levels. This is the first major theory that bridges water use strategy to stomatal movement in response to its immediate environment. It is quite likely that this theory will be eminently employed in large-scale climate models, where greening of the biosphere continues to resist complete theoretical treatment.

More broadly, Stefano’s research style combines rigor, generality, completeness, and simplicity in ways never attempted before in this interdisciplinary field. He is able to “digest” cutting-edge knowledge from soil science, hydrology, ecology, plant physiology, atmospheric sciences, dynamical systems theory, and stochastic processes so as to provide a comprehensive view of water-material cycling in ecosystems. All his letter writers agree that he should be awarded the Early Career Hydrologic Science Award for moving ecohydrology from its empirical roots to a field that accommodates many of its spatiotemporal dimensions, thereby allowing this field to address pressing societal problems.

—Gabriel Katul, Duke University, Durham


Thank you, Gaby, for your kind words. I am deeply honored to be here and receive the Early Career Hydrologic Science Award, and I would like to thank AGU, the Hydrology section, and Eric Wood for this recognition. Sometimes I think back to the moment that set in motion the personal and professional trajectory that led me here today. As is often the case, it all started with a simple yes.

I was finishing my master’s at Polytechnic of Turin, and looking for a thesis supervisor, I knocked on Amilcare Porporato’s office door. His answer was positive, but he was moving to Duke University and asked me if I would join him. So I finished my thesis at Duke, thinking that a thesis abroad would not change my life, but it did. I started my Ph.D. with Amilcare, and since then, he has been an advisor, a mentor, and a role model. His contagious enthusiasm, independent way of thinking, and effortless jumping across disciplinary boundaries have all contributed to shaping me as a researcher as well as a person.

While at Duke University, I was fortunate to meet Gabriel Katul. He has been a generous and ever-present supervisor, mentor, and friend. Gaby’s approach is inspiringly pragmatic and focused toward sharply defined objectives—an approach that left a strong mark in my contribution to the field of ecohydrology.

Many other colleagues always supported and encouraged me, in particular Rob Jackson, Josh Schimel, Alberto Montanari, and, more recently, Martin Weih. Finally, my most sincere thanks to Giulia Vico, my wife and among my most supportive research collaborators. As some of you probably know, sharing your life with a scientist is an opportunity and a challenge in its own right—with Giulia it is a fun and engaging adventure. In closing, I hope I will have a chance to continue working in and giving my contribution to the Hydrology section and the wider AGU.

—Stefano Manzoni, Stockholm University, Sweden

Sally Thompson received the 2013 Early Career Hydrologic Science Award at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for significant early-career contributions to hydrologic science.



Sally Thompson grew up in Perth, where she was trained as an environmental engineer at the University of Western Australia. She graduated with honors in 2003 and worked for a few years as an environmental engineering consultant. Following the award of the Sir John Monash Fellowship in Australia, Sal accepted the admissions offer from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in 2006, completing her Ph.D. within 4 years and defending her dissertation in 2010. I was most fortunate to have Sal join me at Duke after an enthusiastic recommendation from Siva. Upon her arrival at Duke University, it was immediately clear to all that Sal is a special person with the remarkable skill of being able to identify the main aspects of a problem and throw at them the best that theory, experiment, and modeling tools offer.

Her doctoral work focused on development of novel theories regarding the role of vegetation in altering the surface transport of water, the role of surface hydrology in influencing seed dispersal and vegetation spatial dynamics, and the feedbacks between infiltration capacity and local vegetation biomass. Sally’s work combines theory from multiple disciplines—including mathematics, physics, ecology, and hydrology—to explore these questions.

A glance at the diversity of journals she publishes in reveals her scientific maturity. She has developed a broad network of collaborators through participation in the NSF-UIUC Hydrological Synthesis project and more recent initiatives through IAHS, SESYNC, and the Critical Zone Observatories. Her ability to provide constructive reviews and feedback to authors in hydrology awarded her an editor’s citation for excellence in refereeing by Water Resources Research in 2010, and shortly thereafter she was selected as an associate editor for Advances in Water Resources.

On a personal note, Sally is a wonderful human being and a genuine friend to all her colleagues and now students. Sally has moved ecohydrology from its “temporal” origins to a field that accommodates many of its spatiotemporal dimensions, allowing this field to address pressing societal problems previously viewed as impenetrable—a reason sufficient for her to receive the 2013 Early Career Hydrologic Science Award.

—GABRIEL KATUL, Duke University, Durham, N.C.


My most sincere thanks to AGU; the Hydrology section and its chair, Eric Wood; those who were kind enough to nominate me for this award; and, of course, the inimitable Gaby Katul for their support and for this recognition. Receiving the Early Career Hydrologic Science Award is an unexpected and humbling pleasure. After seven schizophrenic years of physical scientists accusing me of being an ecologist and ecologists telling me firmly that I’m an engineer, it’s wonderful to be able to come to rest where I have always self-identified—as a hydrologist!

There are two great pleasures associated with working in the area of ecohydrology, where life and water intersect. The first is the opportunity to unify the exploration of tremendously fun intellectual challenges with the capacity to influence our understanding of critical, socially relevant problems. The second is the fabulous array of thinkers who constitute our academic community in this field. My experience is uniformly of diverse, friendly, and productive relationships with many wonderful mentors, colleagues, friends, and—so rewarding and novel for me still—tremendously exciting research students.

From my early days of learning about research with Bob Bucat in the Chemistry Department of the University of Western Australia (UWA), to the mentors and research advisors in the Environmental Engineering Department at UWA—Keith Smettem, Prabhakar Clement, and most enduringly, Siva Sivapalan—I have been well nourished and inspired. Of all the many researchers I have worked with, Gaby Katul represents the pinnacle of what it means to act as a research and personal mentor: I cannot imagine a more generous Ph.D. advisor or role model, and I can’t thank him enough for his encouragement and faith in me over the years.

Finally, my heartfelt thanks to my patient and wonderful husband, Nicholas George, who has taken many a leap of faith with me since we left Australia and who remains an unswerving source of support and common sense. I look forward to many more productive and enjoyable years working with these fabulous people and engagement with the Hydrology section at AGU.

—SALLY THOMPSON, University of California, Berkeley

Giuliano Di Baldassarre received the 2012 Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award at the 2012 AGU Fall Meeting, held 3–7 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for outstanding contributions to the science of hydrology.



It is a great pleasure for me to introduce Giuliano Di Baldassarre as the recipient of the AGU Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award.

My pleasure is rooted back in the years during which Giuliano took his undergraduate studies at the University of Bologna, in Italy, and I taught hydrology to him and his classmates. It was clear at that time already that Giuliano was more than brilliant; he was really outstanding. In fact, he graduated cum laude, with an academic curriculum that was, and still is, unique.

Later on, I had the pleasure of coadvising Giuliano during his Ph.D., establishing a cooperation that is still lasting today, one from which I gained unforgettable research experiences and, above all, a personal friendship.

After the Ph.D., Giuliano moved abroad to Bristol University and to Delft at UNESCO-IHE, where he is still based. During these years, he developed brilliant research ideas to address relevant problems related to hydrology and society, and, in particular, floodplain modeling.

What is most impressive in Giuliano is his independence. Giuliano is really self-made, is conceiving and developing original research ideas that have proved to be successful. And, last but not least, Giuliano has a very modest attitude, which makes him an excellent example for young researchers.

Ladies and gentleman, on behalf of all of you, I am pleased to congratulate Giuliano Di Baldassarre, a most deserving recipient of the AGU Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award.

—ALBERTO MONTANARI, University of Bologna, Italy


Thank you very much, Alberto, for your nice comments and the precious support you have given me since the very beginning of my scientific career.

I am deeply honored to be the recipient of the AGU Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award, and I would like to thank the Award Committee.

There is a long list of colleagues and friends whom I would like to thank, as well as my family that has always supported and encouraged my work. I must acknowledge here the fact that I have had the privilege of studying and working in scientifically stimulating places across Europe. I did my Ph.D. at the University of Bologna, in Italy, and then I was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bristol, in the United Kingdom. Lastly, I moved to UNESCO-IHE Delft, in the Netherlands, where I was given a concrete opportunity to grow and broaden my scientific work.

My research work has mainly concerned the study of floodplain dynamics, and I have focused on three major points: the understanding of flood inundation processes and human population dynamics in a changing environment, the exploitation of remote sensing data to monitor sociohydrological systems, and the estimation of flood risk and the associated uncertainty.

I have recently had the opportunity to move into new scientific areas that I find very challenging. Along with many colleagues, I am trying to understand how (and to what extent) human societies influence the frequency of floods, while the frequency of floods (in turn) shapes human societies. In this context, I am very thankful to many collaborators and graduate students who inspire me every day with their excellent work.

I am really, truly honored to receive this award, and deeply grateful to the American Geophysical Union for promoting a supportive environment for many young scientists.


Meinhard Bayani Cardenas received the 2011 Early Career Hydrologic Sciences Award at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting, held 5–9 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for significant early career contributions to hydrologic science.



Meinhard Bayani Cardenas first came to the United States from the Philippines just over 10 years ago and began studying stream-aquifer interaction during his M.S. at the University of Nebraska. Working with Vitaly Zlonik, he conducted an innovative field observational program, sampling hundreds of points within a streambed, which he used to examine the role of sediment heterogeneity on stream-aquifer interaction. Bayani then joined me at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology for his Ph.D. Initially, we planned some field observations, but serendipitously, funding did not work out. He turned to mathematical modeling of the hyporheic zone, for which he is best known, and received his Ph.D. 6 years ago. Bayani moved to the University of Texas at Austin (UT), where he is an assistant professor in the department of geological sciences. Upon arrival at UT he continued his modeling work, returned to the field (including innovative applications of geophysical tools), added a strong laboratory component (he built his own flume), and published. Most important, he began to teach and to mentor students. The second page of his CV lists the honors won not by him but by his students.

In his work, Bayani examines the scales, rates, and residence times of hyporheic flow that are generated by a single downed log in a mountain stream, by bedforms lining the bottom of a sandy river, and by the pattern of river meanders. He has studied heat transport and ecologically important patterns of temperature in streams and hyporheic zones and has investigated reactive chemistry issues of importance to nutrient utilization in streams. However, his work does not stop there. He used his skill set to examine groundwater flow at the small scale of a few pores in order to understand how solutes are sequestered in porous and fractured rocks, leading to tailing of solute breakthrough, and at the large scale of a regional aquifer to understand that groundwater age distributions also exhibit tailing due to mixing between fast and slow flow paths even in homogeneous aquifers. A consistent theme of this work is the emergence of power law scaling of residence times over all scales and with a variety of contributing and complementary explanations. Aquifer heterogeneity is not required.

—Jonh L. Wilson, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro


Thank you, John, for the kind comments and your unwavering support as mentor and friend.

I came to America from the Philippines 12 years ago to pursue an academic adventure, not knowing what to expect. So receiving this citation is a surreal and humbling moment in an unlikely chain of events.

Luck has favored me often. I pursued my M.S. at the University of Nebraska because of a recommendation by Carlo Arcilla, then a new professor at the University of the Philippines. My M.S. adviser, Vitaly Zlotnik, and my fellow student Stefan Kollet were critical to my early hydrogeologic training; I treasure their lifelong influence and the foundation laid by them.

The next fortuitous event was when Vitaly introduced me to John Wilson, who convinced me to join the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology’s hydrology Ph.D. program. My transformative period at Tech was due to the efforts of the late Rob Bowman, Fred Phillips, and, most important, John. The teacher and scholar I aspire to be are due to their inspiration. My training and mentorship under them resonate in all that I do now.

I am fortunate to be part of the Jackson School community at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). My colleagues at UT, especially Phil Bennett, Jack Sharp, Jay Banner, David Mohrig, and Peter Flemings, are pillars of support. My research team at UT, especially the amazingly talented and hard-working past and present students and postdocs, and collaborators around the world share this recognition.

I thank my family in the Philippines, especially my mother, Marylynne, who continues to be in my thoughts. Finally, I thank the love of my life and the hearth of our home, Tracy, and our two troublemakers, Makisig and Mayumi. I have my dream job, but the first glimpse of Tracy and the kids as the garage door opens tells me that the best part of the day has just started.

I am grateful to AGU for promoting a supportive environment for aspiring young scientists. I am profoundly honored by this award. Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.

—M. Bayani Cardenas, University of Texas at Austin

Mekonnen Gebremichael received the 2010 Early Career Hydrologic Sciences Award at the 2010 AGU Fall Meeting, held 13–17 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for significant early­career contributions to hydrologic science.



It is my privilege to introduce to you Mekonnen Gebremichael, winner of the 2010 AGU Early Career Hydrologic Sciences Award.

Mekonnen’s remarkable contributions are in satellite remote sensing of rainfall and evapotranspiration, with application to hydrometeorology. A key problem here is the quantification of various sources of uncertainty, which is necessary for rational use of the spaceborne products. Mekonnen has advanced statistical models that comprehensively describe the sampling, as well as retrieval errors, of rainfall estimated from space. He has revealed the need to take into proper consideration the effects of spatial resolution and temporal sampling to avoid significant biases in retrieval of evapotranspiration. His findings enable ensemble based prediction of hydrologic processes and meaningful uncertainty propagation.

Mekonnen, still in his early career, has also been exploring the tools of scaling theory and nonlinear dynamics to gain new insights into the behavior of hydrologic systems. Using NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite data, he demonstrated for the first time that rainfall across the entire tropics, including the ocean, follows the scale invariance property that can be linked to physical processes. In a recent publication he established that the standard method of calibrating distributed hydrological models fails to accurately reproduce the runoff production mechanisms, despite its ability to reproduce the total streamflow at the watershed outlet. His finding calls for a paradigm shift in the development of distributed hydrologic models. His work also provides new insights into the long memory property of river flow and its dependence on spatial scale.

Mekonnen has also distinguished himself as an architect and builder of scientific capacity in Africa. He is leading a groundbreaking collaboration among U.S. and Ethiopian universities aimed at enhancing the capacity of Ethiopia’s higher education system to produce engineers, scientists, and policy specialists equipped to engineer and manage water resources for the economic, social, and health advancement of Ethiopian citizens.

I have always been impressed by Mekonnen’s unassuming, quiet style, which conceals his tremendous talents and capabilities. Through creativity, hard work, and collegiality he is poised to make many more lasting contributions to the profession.

—Witold Krajewski, University of Iowa, Iowa City


I am deeply honored and humbled by this award and recognition. Thank you, Witek, for all your kind words and unwavering support since the very start of my scientific career. Without your inspiration, I would not be the dedicated and passionate scientist that I am today.

There is enormous potential in satellite data for use in various hydrological applications and irrigation water management that can directly contribute to solving major developmental and food security challenges around the world. The roles of satellite data are irreplaceable, particularly in the developing world, as an alternative to ground-based measurements, which are typically unavailable. Despite these benefits, satellite data are rarely used in operational applications in the developing world. In my opinion, there are two reasons for this. First, the development of reliable satellite products for the developing world is challenging due to the lack of reliable ground-based data for validation. Second, the use of satellite data requires special skills and technical knowledge in remote sensing theory and image processing. Currently, students and professionals in the developing world are not well acquainted with this technology.

Over the past decade, my research efforts have been in developing mathematical tools and advancing our understanding of the uncertainty of satellite hydrological estimates, limitations of the involved algorithms, and scaling properties of hydrology for downscaling purposes. Building on these, my recent research efforts are geared toward demonstrating innovative and practical applications of the satellite data sets to increase their benefits to society.

This award came at the time when I was preparing to go to Ethiopia to lead a large team of scientists in inaugurating the Ethiopian Institute of Water Resources, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development Higher Education for Development partnership under the Africa U.S. Higher Education Initiative. The mission of the institute is to establish a long-term academic partnership between U.S. and Ethiopian institutions to provide outstanding higher education programs, conduct internationally recognized research, and perform nationally relevant outreach in the field of sustainable development and management of water resources that will help to address African development challenges. It is anticipated that this institute will contribute toward advancing the capabilities of satellite data to solve societal problems and training the next generation of professionals in satellite data applications.

This award has inspired me tremendously, and I hope it will inspire other scientists working in this exciting field. I am very grateful to AGU and the Early Career Hydrologic Sciences Award Committee for the honor conferred on me. I will continue to work diligently to produce meaningful contributions.

—Mekonnen Gebremichael , University of Connecticut, Storrs

Kelly K. Caylor received the 2009 Early Career Hydrologic Sciences Award at the 2009 AGU Fall Meeting, held 14–18 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for significant early contributions to hydrologic science.



It is a great pleasure to introduce Kelly Caylor, the first winner of the Early Career Hydrologic Sciences Award of AGU.

Kelly’s career has focused primarily on the spatiotemporal interactions between surface hydrologic dynamics and plant ecology, and particularly on dryland ecosystems. While the emerging science of ecohydrology promises to clarify the resilience of ecosystems to anthropogenic and climatic perturbations, it is predicated on coupling advances in the theory of ecological pattern formation to improved observation of hydrological processes. Kelly has been a leader in developing frameworks capable of interpreting and predicting spatial pattern formation in dryland ecosystems. He has carried out pioneering studies in the feedbacks between soil moisture, vegetation pattern, and community dynamics of savanna ecosystems. This research has demonstrated the decisive role that trees play in determining soil moisture dynamics and subsequent community composition across a regional climate gradient.

Refined theories and innovative modeling approaches are necessarily dependent on improved observations. Kelly has developed methods to estimate transpiration of trees using sap flux techniques, as well as characterizing the impact of land management and disturbance regimes on vegetation rooting patterns.

Kelly’s research focuses on developing a broad understanding of the coupling between hydrologic, ecological, geophysical, and biogeochemical processes in dryland ecosystems, and he has made a phenomenal start toward that goal. As one supporting letter stated, “Kelly is an extraordinary young scientist and I am sure there is no other eligible candidate more deserving of this award.” Another senior researcher wrote, “Kelly is a scientist in the classical sense, and not someone who is pigeon-holed as either a modeler or experimentalist. Based on this fundamental approach, I find his research to be very original, significant, and cutting-edge.”

I could not agree more. For his outstanding creativity and superb combination of theoretical, laboratory, and field experiments, and his outstanding original contributions to hydrology in the early stages of his career, it is a privilege to introduce Kelly K. Caylor, the winner of the first Early Career Hydrologic Sciences Award.

—Ignacio Rodríguez-Iturbe, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.


Thank you, Ignacio, for your kind remarks. I am honored to receive this award.

As with all early career awardees, I have been training to be an academic for longer than I have been one. So while Ignacio has spoken so generously about me, I would like to speak about some of the colleagues critical to my development as a young researcher.

The person who first encouraged me into a life in pursuit of knowledge was Hank Shugart, my undergraduate thesis advisor at University of Virginia and eventually my Ph.D. advisor as well. I thank Hank for everything he has done for me, especially his patience and encouragement during the many years we have worked together.

At Virginia, I learned from and worked with many other graduate students and faculty whom I greatly respect and admire. I especially thank fellow students Todd Scanlon, Vaughan Turekian, and Dan Druckenbrod, as well as faculty including John Albertson, Jose Fuentes, and Paolo D’Odorico. They all provided me with advice and support as well as inspiration through their examples.

My time at Princeton as a postdoc working with Ignacio was transformative, and the debt I owe him continually increases. Our offices at Princeton are adjacent, and so it is appropriate that this award will hang not only on my wall but also on his.

I have lately had the opportunity to move into new areas of research that are exciting but also critically important. Hydrology will play a considerable role in shaping the future of ecosystems under increasing pressure from climate change and land use intensification. I am excited to be part of this research and humbled by all that remains to be done. I am thankful to be joined by graduate students and postdocs who motivate me daily through their excellence and creativity.

I am deeply honored to be the inaugural recipient of the Early Career Hydrologic Sciences Award, and I thank AGU for its commitment to fostering a vibrant and collaborative environment in which young scientists may thrive.

—Kelly K. Caylor, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.

Honors Contacts

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