AghaKouchak Receives 2017 Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award

Amir AghaKouchak will receive the 2017 Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award “acknowledges early career prominence and the promise of continued contributions to hydrologic science.”


It is a great pleasure for me to announce Amir AghaKouchak as the successful recipient of the 2017 AGU Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award for developing new methods for the study of hydrological extremes by combining societal relevance and scientific novelty.

Societal relevance has consistently characterized Amir’s work. One of the most striking examples is provided by his work on anthropogenic drought. Amir led a multidisciplinary team of scientists, and drawing from California’s drought, he developed key insights that are not only scientifically important but also relevant for water resources management in a changing climate. Studies of drought impacts on water resources primarily focus on large-scale atmospheric conditions and ignore the human dimension. Amir’s work has outlined a solid methodological framework for assessing water availability while explicitly considering anthropogenic water demand scenarios and water supply infrastructure designed to cope with climatic extremes.

Scientific novelty has also been an important part of Amir’s work. Amir has developed seminal studies advancing statistical hydrology. In the most recent papers, for example, he co-developed new methods to deal with nonstationary processes. Moreover, throughout his career, he has demonstrated the value of remote sensing data for the study of hydrological extremes and proposed new tools to exploit new sources of information. Amir’s work has been groundbreaking. This is demonstrated by his remarkable publication record, which includes papers in multidisciplinary journals such as Nature, Science, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The impact of Amir’s work has accelerated exponentially over the past few years, speaking to the importance and relevance of his studies. Many scholars have built on his work in many areas of the world. This is also demonstrated by the fact that his research has been well funded by prestigious sources, speaking again to its rigorous character and significance. As a result, only a few years after his Ph.D., Amir has received by the community a solid reputation.

Exceptional productivity, extraordinary outreach, and tireless dedication to students and postdocs did not prevent Amir from providing service to the scientific community. Amir has been an editor and associate editor of various journals including Earth’s Future. He has also been very active within AGU and the International Association of Hydrological Sciences by serving on committees, such as AGU’s Horton Research Grant and Graduate Student Award, and organizing conferences.

In conclusion, groundbreaking research, original ideas, and societal relevance along with unselfish service to the scientific community make Amir AghaKouchak the most deserving candidate for the 2017 AGU Hydrologic Sciences Early Career Award.

—Giuliano Di Baldassarre, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden


Thank you, Giuliano, for your generous citation and for leading the nomination! My sincere thanks to Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, Vijay Singh, and Balaji Rajagopalan, who supported the nomination. I am also grateful to the AGU Hydrology section and its president, Jeffrey McDonnell, and the honors committee for this recognition. Receiving this award is certainly a humbling pleasure. But this is not an individual recognition. I believe it reflects the work of my amazing collaborators, students, and postdocs.

Studying and working on three continents and interacting with exceptional scientists from around the world have made my journey very exciting! I was incredibly lucky to work with Andras Bardossy and Emad Habib, who introduced me to statistical hydrology and radar science. I am indebted to both of them for building my analytical skills. Joining Soroosh Sorooshian’s group as a postdoctoral fellow was a life-changing and inspiring experience! Soroosh introduced me to the world of remote sensing and changed my perspective toward research. I could not have imagined a more generous mentor and role model, and I cannot thank him enough for his unwavering support, encouragement, and mentorship over the years. During my postdoc, I had the privilege of collaborating with amazing scientists including Kuolin Hsu, Bisher Imam, Xiaogang Gao, and Jialun Li—a great team with endless ideas!

I thank the University of California, Irvine for taking the leap of faith to appoint me as a faculty member, where I have had the good fortune of working with a diverse group of exceptional colleagues. Special thanks go to Brett Sanders and Stan Grant for integrating me into their interdisciplinary projects and broadening my research; to Richard Matthew and David Feldman for their insights on the broader relevance of our work; to Steven Davis for sharing his brilliant mind and stimulating ideas; to Jim Randerson for his thought-provoking views; to Bill Cooper and Phu Nguyen for their stunningly positive attitude; and to Efi Foufoula-Georgiou for her critical thoughts and the opportunities she has created.

Over the past 7 years, I have had the pleasure of working and publishing with nearly 200 phenomenal scientists. I cannot possibly mention everyone here, but I would like to acknowledge the amazing interactions and stimulating discussions that I have had with Upmanu Lall, Kaveh Madani, Tom Phillips, Ghassem Asrar, Andy Wood, Ali Nazemi, Marty Hoerling, Shrad Shukla, Ali Mirchi, Hamid Norouzi, Travis Huxman, Nasrin Nasrollahi, Jay Lund, Mark Svoboda, Marzi Azarderakhsh, Brian Tarroja, Gianfausto Salvadori, Chiyuan Miao, Farshid Vahedifard, Thomas Wahl, Hamid Moradkhani, Jasper Vrugt, Qingyun Duan, Brian Skahill, and Salvatore Grimaldi. I have learned much from and been influenced by many more scientists than I can list here.

I owe much of this recognition to my current and former students, postdocs, and visiting scholars. I accept this honor with humility and gratitude on their behalf: Linyin Cheng, Ali Mehran, Elisa Ragno, Alireza Farahmand, Omid Mazdiyasni, Charlotte Love, Felicia Chiang, Hassan Anjileli, Alexandre Martinez, Aneseh Alborzi, Austen Nelson, Mohsen Niknejad, Lisa Damberg, Qiaohong Sun, Samaneh Ashraf, Carlos Lima, Zengchao Hao, Shahrbanou Madadgar, Hamed Moftakhari, Mojtaba Sadegh, Iman Mallakpour, Simon Papalexiou, and Laurie Huning. I wholeheartedly appreciate their hard work and dedication and want to thank them for their patience with me!

Finally, I am grateful for the tremendous support I have received from my parents. Heartfelt thanks go also to my lovely wife, Nasrin, who has remained an infinite source of support over the past 12 years; my son, Kian; and soon his little sister, who often have to deal with my time away from home. I owe them so much!

—Amir AghaKouchak, University of California, Irvine