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Konar, Long, and Madani Receive 2019 Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award – Eos


Citation for Megan Konar

Megan Konar, winner of AGU’s 2019 Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award
Megan Konar

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

 

Response

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.

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—Megan Konar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 

Citation for Di Long

Di Long, winner of AGU’s 2019 Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award
Di Long

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

 

Response

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.

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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

 

Citation for Kaveh Madani

Kaveh Madani, winner of AGU’s 2019 Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award
Kaveh Madani

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

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Response

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.






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