Member Since 2006
Nandita B. Basu
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Water Sustainability and Ecohydrology, University of Waterloo
Honors and Awards

Union Fellow
Received December 2023
Joanne Simpson Medal
Received December 2023
Dr. Nandita Basu is a professor and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Global Water Sustainability and Ecohydrology at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Basu is internationally renowned for her work to measure and model drivers of water quality degradation across river basins and her pioneering work to develop methods and models for predicting how watershed conservation efforts can be used to mitigate these challenges. Her team developed the first process-based nutrient legacy model, Exploration of Long-term Nutrient Trajectories (ELEMeNT), capable of predicting how legacy nitrogen impacts the ability to meet water quality goals. This work challenged existing paradigms on global nitrogen cycles and spearheaded a field of research devoted to examining nutrient pollution legacies and their importance in setting realistic and attainable management goals.

Basu’s other major career accomplishment is in the development of novel techniques for quantifying how wetland restoration can mitigate nutrient pollution at the landscape scale. Her team was the first to demonstrate the disproportionately large contribution of small wetlands to water quality improvement.

Dr. Basu was previously awarded the AGU Sulzman Award for Scientific Excellence through Education and Mentoring and was named a 2022 Earth Leadership fellow, with both awards acknowledging her distinguished record of training early-career scholars and ensuring that her scientific contributions are shared with the broadest possible audience. The frequency with which her research appears in major media outlets is a testament to the importance of her research and her capacity to share that research in ways that capture and hold public attention.

— Emily S. Bernhardt
Duke University
Durham, North Carolina
I am humbled to receive the Joanne Simpson Medal from AGU. Receiving this award reinforces my commitment to promoting public engagement with environmental issues while advocating for equity and mentorship within our scientific community. I am grateful to my nominator, Emily Bernhardt, and supporters, Emily Stanley, Reed Maxwell, and Jeff McDonell. Special thanks to Fred Cheng and Kim Van Meter for their invaluable behind-the-scenes efforts and for the science behind the awards — you are the wind beneath my wings. Science is a team sport, and I am grateful for my team, my exceptional mentees and collaborators, and the University of Waterloo for allowing me the freedom to grow. I am also thankful to my larger science family who have been instrumental in supporting, promoting and mentoring me — women like Emily Stanley and Emily Bernhardt, who welcomed a stranger into their fold and made me feel like I belonged. Behind every woman there are a thousand women, and I am grateful for the many women in my life who have made this day possible. My career trajectory has been circuitous, never truly belonging to a discipline — an engineer searching for her voice beyond gadgets and design, a modeler who believes that experimentalists have the cooler gig, a hydrologist who cared more about the things in the water than the water itself — often searching for the right questions rather than the right answers. This path led me to my own North Star — science for solutions to global environmental challenges, learning from past solutions that have failed and identifying leverage points for designing a sustainable tomorrow. And, at last, I have found an element of design that speaks to me. Beyond my scientific pursuits, I am motivated to elevate diverse voices in academia and to pay forward the kindness I’ve received. This award, named after a pioneer in atmospheric sciences who was told that her research area was a good subject for a little girl to study, resonates deeply with me, as I’ve faced similar challenges and biases. The award thus fuels my dedication to addressing inequities and advocating for structural changes in our community. I am also deeply grateful to my family, including my mother, who made me believe anything is possible; my grandfather and my Ph.D. supervisor, who taught me how to question assumptions and imagine freely; and my nine-year-old, who keeps me grounded and curious.— Nandita Basu, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Paul A. Witherspoon Lecture
Received December 2023
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Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring
Received December 2020
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Current Roles
Vice Chair
Union Fellows Committee