UCOWR recognizes nine award categories: Warren A. Hall Medal, Early Career Award for Applied Research, Early Career Award for Extension/Outreach/Engagement, Mid-Career Award for Applied Research, Mid-Career Award for Extension/Outreach/Engagement, Friends of UCOWR, Education and Public Service Award, Ph.D. Dissertation Award, and JCWRE Paper of the Year. Recipients are nominated by UCOWR delegates and are recognized during the Awards Banquet at the Annual Conference. Awards may not be given if no nominations were submitted or a deserving recipient was not identified.
Ron Lacewell, Ph.D., receives the UCOWR Warren A. Hall Medal for lifetime achievement this year, one of the two recipients for 2021. Dr. Lacewell’s interest in water resources research began with his growing up on an irrigation farm supplied with water from the Ogallala Aquifer. His formal research began with the M.S. thesis at Texas Tech University continuing to his Ph.D. dissertation at Oklahoma State University, which included groundwater and surface water as well as land subsidence due to pumping. He worked with the Bureau of the Census in Washington, Texas Tech University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture before joining the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University. Ron was drawn to the Texas Water Resources Institute upon arriving at A&M, participating in planning and program development. He is especially proud of his activities with UCOWR over the years and has enjoyed observing the growth of the association. His role with UCOWR included serving as President and being a member of the Board. Ron has published over 100 peer reviewed journal articles and numerous bulletins and contributed papers. He has served as a consultant to government agencies, legal firms and the private sector. For the past several years he has held joint appointments as a Professor in the Agriculture Economics Department and as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Federal Relations working for water related funding through the federal government. Learn more.
Dr. Mac McKee, also awarded the 2021 UCOWR Warren A. Hall Medal for his lifetime achievements in water resources, became an emeritus professor at Utah State University (USU) in 2019, when he retired from his position as Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and stepped down as the longest-serving Director of the Utah Water Research Laboratory. Prior to joining the faculty at USU, he served for 13 years as Professor of Environmental Engineering at Humboldt State University in Northern California. He has been active in domestic and international water resources planning and management projects for more than 40 years, involving assignments in about 30 countries around the world, and extensive experience in South Asia and the Middle East. During his 20 years at USU, his research focused on the use of machine learning in water resources management and the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles and sensors for remote sensing applications in areas such as river corridor hydrology, invasive and endangered species management, and agriculture. He served for about a dozen years on the UCOWR Board of Directors, with two terms as President. His students have gone on to become professors at universities in the U.S. and other countries, and some occupy influential positions in various governments and the private sector. Learn more.
Dr. Ali Mirchi is an Assistant Professor of water resources engineering at Oklahoma State University’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. He holds a PhD in civil engineering from Michigan Technological University, a Master’s in water resources engineering from Lund University, and a BSc in civil engineering with a concentration on water resources from the University of Tabriz. His research focuses on water resources planning and management to derive policy insights that promote water sustainability. He applies systems modeling and analysis techniques, system dynamics simulation, and watershed hydrologic modeling. Dr. Mirchi is currently working on research projects in Oklahoma, southcentral/southwestern U.S., northeastern Tunisia, and Middle East, investigating adaptive water resources management strategies in the face of population growth, competing demands, and climatic extremes. He is an Arab-American Frontiers Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and an associate editor of the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management.
Dr. Amir Haghverdi is an Assistant Professor of Irrigation and Water Management in Cooperative Extension in the Environmental Sciences Department at the University of California Riverside. His research focuses on developing and disseminating scientific knowledge, practical recommendations, and tools for sustainable urban and agricultural water resources management. His approaches include field research trials, laboratory analyses, and computer modeling to identify opportunities for synergy between research and extension activities. His main research themes include irrigation water management, root zone soil hydrology, and precision agriculture. Dr. Haghverdi also is interested in applications of advanced data acquisition and mining techniques, including remote sensing, GIS (geographic information systems) and GPS (global positioning system) technologies, machine learning, and wireless sensors. He received his Ph.D. in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
None awarded for 2021.
Dr. Kenneth (or KC) Carroll is an Associate Professor in the Plant & Environmental Sciences Department, and he also supports the Interdisciplinary Water Science & Management graduate program at New Mexico State University (NMSU). His teaching and research focuses on environmental science and geochemical hydrogeology. KC’s research interests include the development of innovative water resources, environmental-remediation, carbon-sequestration, and energy-production alternatives covering a broad range of cross-disciplinary areas that pertain to soil, water, and environmental science. He earned his PhD in Hydrology & Water Resources at the University of Arizona. In addition to international consulting industry and postdoctoral experience, KC was a research scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for three years prior to joining NMSU in early 2013.
Dr. Jonathan Aguilar is an extension water resource engineer with Kansas State Research and Extension (KSRE), based in Garden City, Kansas. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural engineering from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB), with a focus on land and water resources. After graduating, he worked at UPLB as a university researcher and handled several water resource-related projects with UPLB Foundation, Department of Agriculture, and the UN-Food and Agriculture Organization. Dr. Aguilar received his doctorate from K-State in 2009 and then worked as a USDA-ARS postdoctoral researcher in Sidney, Montana and Mandan, North Dakota, researching remote sensing of crop residue and spatiotemporal analysis of U.S. crop diversity. In 2012, he joined KSRE as an Assistant Professor, focused on water resource issues as they pertain to irrigated agriculture in western Kansas. His specialties are technology adoption and improved irrigation management.
Nicole Wilkinson McIntosh earned a B.S. in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami, with plans to do pure science research “on a deserted island somewhere where people would not be a distraction!” However, through work on sea turtle conservation and education initiatives with local non-profits and community members in Grenada and Costa Rica, Nicole quickly realized that to make a difference and have impact on environmental issues, the human component must be recognized. She returned to the U.S. to earn her interdisciplinary Master of Environmental Management degree in Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University, and began her professional career as the Coastal Training Program Coordinator at the National Estuarine Research Reserve in Georgetown, South Carolina. She moved next to the NC State WRRI as Coordinator for Research and Outreach, where she has worked for the last 10+ years. She has been a tireless advocate for UCOWR, serving on the UCOWR Board of Directors from 2017-2019, and taking a leadership role in UCOWR’s 2017 Strategic Plan development, documentation, and three years of implementation. Nicole, a gifted facilitator for participatory events, brought new life to the annual UCOWR Conference Delegate Luncheons through her engagement ideas and leadership, and has continued to help with UCOWR conference planning over the past few years. Additionally, Nicole traveled to UCOWR’s home office at Southern Illinois University in fall 2019 and shared her well-received workshop on science communication to campus participants. Nicole has given generously of her time and talent to foster the mission of the UCOWR community, and it has been a privilege working with her during her impactful tenure on the Board of Directors. Thank you, Nicole, for all your hard work!
Dr. Cully Hession is a professor in Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. He is a Professional Engineer (PE) in Virginia and a Certified Ecological Designer (AEES). Dr. Hession has worked as an engineer for the State of Virginia and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, as a professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Vermont, and research leader at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. His research lab focuses on stream channel structure and sediment dynamics, influence of human activities on streams, techniques for measuring and improving in-stream habitat, and development of technologies and strategies for successful stream restoration. Recently, we have expanded into the following areas of research: floodplain dynamics; UAVs for stream and floodplain mapping, and visualization techniques for watersheds & monitoring data. Dr. Hession is the director of the Virginia Tech StREAM Lab and has collaborated with students to help restore Stroubles Creek in Blacksburg, VA.
Natural Science & Engineering Category
Dr. Rebekah Martin is an Assistant Professor at the Virginia Military Institute. She received her Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2020. Her Ph.D. Dissertation is titled “Impact of Premise Plumbing Conditions, Materials, Corrosion Control, Temperature, and Water Heater System Design on the Growth of Opportunistic Pathogens in Drinking Water.” In her dissertation, she presented results from field and bench studies centered primarily around the effects of chemical, biological, and physical changes in water quality within a building’s plumbing system on the growth of a waterborne pathogen called Legionella pneumophila, which can cause Legionnaires’ Disease in humans. Her research focuses on optimizing building design and operation to enhance drinking water quality and reduce public health risks. As a professor at a primarily undergraduate institution, she is also expanding her research to examine methods for enhancing undergraduate civil engineering education through the implementation of active learning techniques and spaced repetition of concepts.
Honorable Mention: Dr. Saubhagya Singh Rathore is a postdoctoral researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He received his doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2020. His research interests include modeling hydrodynamical processes and their interactions with biogeochemical and geophysical processes. His doctoral research resulted in a novel framework to understand and quantify the effects of the spatial distribution of hydraulic conductivity on seawater intrusion (SWI) and submarine groundwater discharge (SGD). He provided analytical and semi-analytical solutions to rapidly delineate seawater-freshwater interface in heterogeneous coastal aquifers. The proposed solutions offer a convenient way for process understanding, first-order prediction, aquifer homogenization, uncertainty quantification, and optimizing SWI-control strategies. At ORNL, Dr. Rathore is exploring ways to reliably infer solute-transport and -transformation processes in stream corridors using innovative tracer test designs and inverse modeling. In near future, Dr. Rathore aims to understand and model the interactions between river basins and coastal environments.
Water Policy & Economics Category
Dr. Tushar Apurv is an Assistant Professor at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He received his Ph.D. in Water Resources Engineering and Science at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His Ph.D. dissertation titled “Understanding Drought Propagation and its Implications for Drought Management” focused on understanding physical mechanisms involved in the propagation of droughts through different components of the hydrologic cycle and explored how different drought management strategies can be more effective in mitigating drought impacts under different climate and watershed characteristics. He is interested in understanding the interactions between climatic variability, hydrologic processes, and human water use behavior to provide effective solutions for water resources management.
Mazer, Katy E. et al., Purdue University. Integrated Hydrologic and Hydraulic Analysis of Torrential Flood Hazard in Arequipa, Peru. JCWRE 171: 93-110.
Excerpt from Abstract:
Seated at the foot of the Misti volcano in an area prone to intense seasonal rains and earthquakes, the city of Arequipa is highly vulnerable to natural disasters. During the rainy season, intense storms create large volumes of runoff that rush through the city’s ephemeral streams, known locally as torrenteras. Episodic flows in these torrenteras have caused flooding, damage to bridges, homes, and other infrastructure, and caused many deaths…In this study, hydrologic and hydraulic models were combined to assess flash flood hazards, including inundation, velocity hazards, and slope instability hazards. Hydrologic models were created using satellite precipitation data and terrain-sensitive, gridded climate maps to characterize flow within six torrenteras in Arequipa…We discuss how this information can be used by disaster risk management groups, water authorities, planners and municipalities, and community groups.
See the full paper here