2. The team of Dr. Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe (Princeton University, USA) and Dr. Andrea Rinaldo (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausan, Switzerland).
They are being awarded for their invention and development of the new field of Ecohydrology, which bridges the gap between the physical and life sciences.
Ecohydrology is a multi-disciplinary research field borrowing from a number of “classic” disciplines (physical sciences; life sciences), yet aiming at a unified picture of water-supported biological dispersion. In practical terms, the new research field presents itself as a comprehensive blend of theory (mathematical modeling), interpretation of past and present biological records, and field experimentation.
The work being awarded represents the joint Princeton-Lausanne research group that was built by the two prizewinners through years of collaboration. Some of their work shows how river networks act as ecological corridors, and how they influence the spread of a water-borne disease like Cholera that still a plague society today.
Their work facilitates avenues of research into many areas of vital importance for society, especially where the ecological significance of human water use is at issue. Ecohydrology has a wide range of practical applications, including water resources management, the development of strategies to minimize the loss of freshwater biodiversity, and the effective prevention of water-borne diseases.
Winner ProfileDr. Ignacio Rodríguez-Iturbe
Dr. Ignacio Rodríguez-Iturbe is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering Princeton University
• Ph.D., Colorado State University, 1967
• M.S., California Institute of Technology, 1965
• C.E. Universidad del Zulia, 1963
• William Bowie Medal, American Geophysical Union, 2009.
• Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award, American Computer Museum and Montana State University, Inaugural Awards, April 2009.
• Medal Hermagoras Chavez, Government of Edo. Zulia, Venezuela, 2008.
• Blusa del Agua, awarded by the Tribunal de las Aguas, Valencia, Spain, February 2007.
• Stockholm Water Prize, 2002.
• Hydrology Days Award 2002, Colorado State University, April 2002.
• Ven Te Chow Award for lifetime achievements in the field of hydrology. Awarded by the Environmental Water Resources Institute/American Society of Civil Engineers, May 2001.
• Order Francisco Miranda (1st Class) for academic merits, Government of Venezuela, December 1998.
• National Engineering Research Prize. Venezuela, December 1998.
• Robert E. Horton Medal, American Geophysical Union, May 1998.
• Colorado State University, 1994 Honor Alumnus Award.
• Academic Medal of the University of Padua, Italy, October 1992.
• Academic Medal of the University of Florence, Italy, October 1991.
• Medal Dr. Antonio Borjas, Distinguished Alumnus Award, Universidad del Zulia, Venezuela, 1991.
• National Science Prize, National Council for Sciences and Technological Research (CONICIT), Venezuela 1991.
• National Prize for best research paper in all branches of Engineering, National Council for Sciences and Technological Research (CONICIT), Caracas, 1987.
• Prize “Francisco J. Torrealba,” awarded by the Universidad Simón Bolívar, for outstanding research accomplishments, Caracas, Venezuela, December 1985.
• Medal “Orden 27 de June” for Merits in Education, Government of Venezuela, 1977.
• James B. Macelwane Award, American Geophysical Union, December 1977.
• Hydrologic Sciences Award, American Geophysical Union, December 1975.
• Huber Research Prize, American Society for Civil Engineers, November 1975.
• “Conspicuously Effective Teaching Award,” Civil Engineering Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, September 1974.
• Research Prize, Venezuelan Society of Hydraulic Engineers, Caracas, 1968.
• Prize “Máxima Calificación.” Graduating Prize of the Engineering Class of 1963, Universidad del Zulia, Venezuela, 1963.
Dr. Andrea Rinaldo
Dr. Andrea Rinaldo is Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources and the Director, Laboratory of Ecohydrology ECHO/ISTE/ENAC Facultè ENAC, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne
• Ph.D. 1983 Purdue University, Fluid Mechanics
• Dott. Ing. (BS+MS) 1978 Università di Padova, Civil Engineering (110/110 summa cum laude)
• E. Munson Award, Purdue University, 1982.
• P. Gatto Research Award, Accademia dei Lincei, Rome (1984)
• Dalton Medal, European Geosciences Union (2005)
• Hydrology Section Award (Horton Award), American Geophysical Union (1999)
Acceptance SpeechIgnacio Rodriguez-Iturbe:
Your Royal Highness Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Distinguished Dignitaries and Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is an unique honor for me to receive today the Prince Sultan Water
Prize on its Creativity branch. For this I am truly and deeply thankful. This occasion is even more special because I share this wonderful award with my best friend and companion in science Andrea Rinaldo. The Prize makes special reference to our research in Ecohydrology the science where hydrology and ecology become intimately intertwined describing and quantifying the interactions between the hydrologic cycle and the structure and functioning of ecosystems.
Hydrology,the science of water based on the dynamics of the hydrologic cycle, is not a purely physical science. As Peter S. Eagleson,our admired colleague and friend, has clearly written: “ Life on earth also has to be a self-evident part of this discipline. In particular,I am thinking of vegetation and its powerful interactive relationship with the atmosphere, at both a local and global scale.
In attempting to get the full picture, we must not be afraid to express the role of plants in our mathematical equations”. Even beyond vegetation, Ecohydrology is a key component of what are loosely called biogeosciences in reference to the interrelationship among biological,geophysical,and geochemical approaches to understand the earth system. The hydrologic cycle throughout a wide range of temporal and spatial scales is a keystone in some of the most crucial areas related to biocomplexity, biodiversity, and the nature of the environment. This hydrologic oriented research where water is the crucial element of all the dynamics involved will surely constitute one of the most exciting scientific frontiers of the first part of the 21st century.
Throughout many years of research in hydrology I have been personally involved in a wide range of issues and problems related to water on earth. Nevertheless it is for me specially meaningful and gratifying that the Prince Sultan Water Prize in its first edition of the “Creativity” branch has specifically singled out our contributions in Ecohydrology. It has been for me an extraordinary privilege to closely work with Professor Rinaldo in the multidimensional challenges of this science and to share with him the excitement and the spirit of adventure that always accompanies true research.
My life in research has been made possible through the support and love of my wife Mercedes whom also provides meaning and joy to all my activities inside and outside academia. Her silent generosity can not be repaid with simple words but only with love. This prize,as always, is for her
I can not finish without expressing my deepest thanks to the se lection committee, to our nominators, and most specially to His Royal Highness Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz for this most wonderful honor.
Your Royal Highness Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a great honor for me to receive today the Prince Sultan Water Creativity Prize. For this recognition to my research work, and for the motivation chosen that deeply prides me, I shall always be thankful. May I add that the occasion is even more special because I share today this wonderful award with my best friend and companion in science Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe, with whom it is such a pleasure to work.
The motivation of the Prize, which has been established to acknowledge innovative scientific work contributing to the sustainable availability of potable water and the alleviation of water scarcity, makes reference to our research in Ecohydrology. Indeed the science where hydrology and ecology merge looks beyond traditional water management schemes, seeking sustainability in a broader sense, including for instance the preservation of biodiversity that is imperiled worldwide today.
Central to this aim is describing and quantifying the interactions of the hydrologic cycle with structure and function of ecosystems, an issue whose importance is now broadly recognized and, in our view, bound to last for a long time at the forefront of research. With practical implications: water persons, whether in science or policy, are now urged to look beyond the traditional domains of hydrologic research and practice -- floods, droughts and a fair distribution of water – to aim at broader, deeper meanings of sustainability. Sustainable availability of potable water, for instance, needs the definition of the pathways for pathogens of water-borne disease to point out prevention and epidemiological measures, and this requires ecohydrology (hydrological and ecological processes seen together) as a new and quantitative support for large-scale applications, the ones needed by humanity and welfare.
It deeply prides us the Prize’s motivation kind mention to creativity in our approach to environmental sciences, as indeed our main interest has been centered on trail-breaking in trying to contribute to our understanding of sustainability of water for life and society. Not always fruitful but always interesting, the approach paid back, if not for the sheer fun we have had. Incidentally, innovation and creativity are still needed in making further progress with our knowledge of hydrologic controls on stresses for soil, plants and people. To that aim we have studied feedbacks and loops that affect water controls on the dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems both directly and indirectly, in particular as drivers for biotic and abiotic processes modulating the water cycle on the Earth surface, in the atmosphere, and below ground. One example concerns the understanding of hydrological ecosystems services borne of the theory that predicts the effects of an uncertain climate on water-controlled vegetation typically characterizing rain-fed agriculture. This is central to arid and semi-arid countries, and thus important to humankind at large especially in times of uncertain future on climatic changes. It is deeply gratifying to observe that much current research in the area of ecohydrology builds on a coherent framework we helped to define: centered on the role of ever-changing and fluctuating hydrological drivers on biodiversity, spreading of disease, reliable food supplies.
Throughout many years of research in hydrology we have been involved in a wide range of issues related to water on earth. Nevertheless it is for me particularly meaningful and gratifying that the Prince Sultan Water Prize in its first edition of the “Creativity” branch has specifically singled out our contributions in Ecohydrology for it has been an extraordinary privilege to work with Professor Rodriguez-Iturbe so closely for many years and to share with him the excitement and the curiosity-driven spirit of adventure that always accompanies true research – and, in our case, true friendship.
My life in research has been made possible through the unconditional support and love of my family. My wife, Maria Caterina, is a front-row children leukemia doctor and thus knows much better than I do the challenges of transferring research into action, for that action saves children’s lives directly and unerringly. I harbor sheer admiration for her capabilities of jointly running her demanding job at the hospital, a family with three wonderful children, the care for our elders and a hospitable house throughout our happy life together. This award is dedicated to her.
Finally, my deepest thanks are due to the sel ection committee, to our nominators, and most particularly to His Royal Highness Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz for the magnificent honor bestowed on us tonight.
Bertuzzo, E., R. Casagrandi, M. Gatto, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, A. Rinaldo, "On Spatially Explicit Models of Cholera Epidemics", Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 7(43), 321-333, 2010.
Bertuzzo, E., R. Muneepeerakul, H.J. Lynch, W.F. Fagan, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe and A. Rinaldo, "On the geographic range of freshwater fish in river basins", Water Resources Research, 45, W11420, 2009.
Rodriguez-Iturbe, I., R. Muneepeerakul, E. Bertuzzo, S.A. Levin, A. Rinaldo, "River Networks as Ecological Corridors: a Complex Systems Perspective for Integrating Hydrologic, Geomorphologic and Ecologic Dynamics", Water Resources Research, 45, W01413, 2009.
Azaele, S., R. Muneepeerakul, A. Maritan, A. Rinaldo, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, "Predicting spatial similarity of freshwater fish biodiversity", Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences, 106(17), 7058-7062, 2009.
Muneepeerakul, R., E. Bertuzzo, H. Lynch, W.F. Fagan, A. Rinaldo, I. Rodriguez-Iturbe, "Neutral metacommunity models predict fish diversity patterns in Mississippi-Missouri basin", Nature, 453, 220-224, 2008.