You Can Influence Future Honors and Awards in Hydrology.

The Task Force on Future Awards and Honors.

In February 2021 Ana Barros, AGU Hydrology Section President, appointed a Task Force to review the current state of Section Honors and Awards (including invited lectures), make recommendations to enhance and expand them in the future, and assist the Section leadership in bringing appropriate recommendations to the AGU Council for Union approval. The Task Force was asked to specifically consider diversity issues and is currently assembling appropriate data and statistics (especially demographics), AGU policy statements, and other information to assist them with their deliberations. The Task Force is chaired by John Wilson with Linda Abriola as Vice-Chair. Other members are Bayani Cardenas, Jay Famiglietti, Terri Hogue, Randy Koster, Praveen Kumar, Jessica Lundquist, Bridget Scanlon, and John Selker (ex-officio, H Section President-Elect).

The Task Force solicits suggestions and comments from the hydrologic science community pertaining to its charge. In particular, it wishes to identify suitable candidates to be honored by a named section award through the creation of a new named award or the renaming of an existing unnamed award. The section has two named lectures, the Langbein Lecture and the Witherspoon Lecture, both given at the Fall AGU meeting, and one named award, the graduate student Horton Research Grant. There are currently two unnamed awards, the senior-level Hydrologic Science Award and the Early Career Award. Some time ago the Hydrologic Science Award was named the Horton Award, but the title of the award was changed to avoid confusion with the Union’s Horton Medal. The Task Force is also considering the creation of new awards.

The Task Force recently solicited from the community nominations of distinguished hydrologic scientists and engineers for whom the Hydrologic Sciences Award, a new Hydrologic Sciences Mid-Career Award, and the Hydrologic Sciences Early-Career Award might be named. To make the nomination process more efficient, the Task Force employed a two-stage process. First, the Task Force solicited two-page nominations for distinguished hydrologic scientists to honor in this way.  In the second stage, the Task Force solicited and reviewed full-package nominations.

Peter S. Eagleson
Peter S. Eagleson
One nomination package stood out. The Task Force has endorsed this package and will recommend that the senior section award be renamed the Peter S. Eagleson Hydrologic Sciences Award. Dara Entekhabi’s and Rafael Bras’ compelling nomination describes Professor Eagleson as a visionary whose research and leadership have been foundational to the development of entire areas of research, including ecohydrology and land-atmospheric coupling.  His inspirational leadership arguably set the agenda for modern hydrology as an interdisciplinary endeavor and pillar of earth system science. As the nominators so succinctly put it: “No other hydrologist in recent history has had the impact and achieved the combined professional and scholarship stature of Peter S. Eagleson.” Prof. Eagleson (1928-2021) received AGU’s highest honor, the William Bowie Medal, AGU’s Robert E. Horton Medal, the Hydrology-Section’s Hydrologic Sciences Award, and the Stockholm World Water Prize. He was President of the Hydrology Section and, later, President of AGU itself. He chaired the NRC Committee that wrote 1991’s “Blue Book” on “Opportunities in the Hydrologic Sciences,” leading to the establishment of NSF’s Hydrologic Sciences Program. The nomination package also includes strong supporting letters from Mary Anderson, Steve Burges, Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, Dennis Lettenmaier and Scott Tyler. The Task Force will recommend that the Hydrology Section’s proposal to rename the award be sent to the Union Committee on Honors and Recognition in January 2024, three years after Prof. Eagleson’s passing, a waiting period required by AGU policy.
The Task Force has also been considering the establishment of new section awards. Current section awards are skewed toward senior scientists, early career scientists, and students.  While the section awards the Paul A. Witherspoon Lecture to a mid-career scientist annually, the criteria are narrowly focused on research aimed at societally important problems and on mentoring of young scientists. Thus, the Task Force has recommended that a hydrologic sciences award be created that more broadly recognizes excellent and significant contributions by mid-career scientists, primarily through research, but with additional consideration for educational and other activities. Such an award would  help these scientists advance their careers at this critical stage. Endorsing another of the naming-nomination packages, the Task Force recommends the establishment of the Polubarinova-Kochina Hydrologic Sciences Mid-Career Award.  This award is named after Russian-Academician Pelageya Polubarinova-Kochina (1899-1999), a pioneer of the scientific-mathematical approach to theoretical groundwater hydrology, who as a woman scientist and mathematician achieved much in the midst of revolution, war, and social upheaval (see bio in Zlonik and Emikh, 2007, Ground Water, 45(3), 383-387). Vitaly Zlonik’s nomination package included strong supporting letters from Mary Anderson, Jacob Bear, John Cherry and Gedeon Dagan. Professor Cherry sums up their arguments: “Not only did she make important contributions to groundwater science, but she is a testimony to the drive and sacrifice of those most exceptional human beings who accomplish great works while devoting their entire lives to advancement of science. However, she did this in circumstances of revolution, war, and oppression in the Soviet Union during much of her career. The fact that she did this as a woman is also noteworthy… In a world where much has gone wrong due to such [language and/or political] barriers, in the naming of this mid-career award there is an opportunity for the AGU to celebrate science as a truly international endeavor in the service of humanity.”

The Hydrology Section does not currently recognize excellence in education distinct from other contributions. The Task Force has recommended a new award, the Hydrologic Sciences Educational Excellence Award, to correct this oversight. Here education is interpreted broadly to encompass all inter-disciplinary aspects of the hydrologic cycle and all learners, whether in formal educational settings, professional training, or public outreach. Recognized educational innovations and impacts may be associated with all aspects of pedagogy, such as advances in curricular content and curricular innovation; development of novel and/or influential educational content; innovation in delivery mechanisms such as podcasts, social media, videos, documentaries etc.; facilitation for adaption by the broader educational community including K-12; considerations of diversity and inclusion in the classroom and beyond; integration of research outcomes into the classroom; and student and professional mentoring. An awardee would reflect excellence in one or several of these aspects.

The Hydrology Section Executive Committee considered and accepted these three recommendations. They have formally forwarded the proposals to the Union Honors and Recognition Committee for their consideration. It's possible, but not likely, that we will hear back from that committee by the time of the Fall Meeting, but not later than spring of 2022.

The Task Force seeks additional nominations for names to associate with the new Hydrologic Sciences Educational Excellence Award, the existing Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award, and possible additional awards or lectures that the Task Force may recommend. Two-page naming nominations should use the template here (maximum 2-pages) and be submitted via email to with a copy to Each naming nomination need only be endorsed by one person. AGU policy regarding named awards can be found at (click on “Naming Policy”). We draw your attention to the fact that only deceased former colleagues can be considered for this kind of honor. Nevertheless, those nominations that are less than three years after the death of the nominee will be fully considered by the Task Force, while recognizing that the award naming would likely become official no earlier than three years after the nominee had died.

Finally, the Task Force seeks general suggestions and comments, particularly ideas for new awards or lectures. These, as well as questions about the naming of awards, should be directed to or to one of the Task Force members (see list in first paragraph).