Cardenas Receives 2011 Early Career Hydrologic Sciences Award

Meinhard Bayani Cardenas received the 2011 Early Career Hydrologic Sciences Award at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting, held 5–9 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for significant early career contributions to hydrologic science.


cardenas_m-bayaniMeinhard Bayani Cardenas first came to the United States from the Philippines just over 10 years ago and began studying stream-aquifer interaction during his M.S. at the University of Nebraska. Working with Vitaly Zlonik, he conducted an innovative field observational program, sampling hundreds of points within a streambed, which he used to examine the role of sediment heterogeneity on stream-aquifer interaction. Bayani then joined me at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology for his Ph.D. Initially, we planned some field observations, but serendipitously, funding did not work out. He turned to mathematical modeling of the hyporheic zone, for which he is best known, and received his Ph.D. 6 years ago. Bayani moved to the University of Texas at Austin (UT), where he is an assistant professor in the department of geological sciences. Upon arrival at UT he continued his modeling work, returned to the field (including innovative applications of geophysical tools), added a strong laboratory component (he built his own flume), and published. Most important, he began to teach and to mentor students. The second page of his CV lists the honors won not by him but by his students.

In his work, Bayani examines the scales, rates, and residence times of hyporheic flow that are generated by a single downed log in a mountain stream, by bedforms lining the bottom of a sandy river, and by the pattern of river meanders. He has studied heat transport and ecologically important patterns of temperature in streams and hyporheic zones and has investigated reactive chemistry issues of importance to nutrient utilization in streams. However, his work does not stop there. He used his skill set to examine groundwater flow at the small scale of a few pores in order to understand how solutes are sequestered in porous and fractured rocks, leading to tailing of solute breakthrough, and at the large scale of a regional aquifer to understand that groundwater age distributions also exhibit tailing due to mixing between fast and slow flow paths even in homogeneous aquifers. A consistent theme of this work is the emergence of power law scaling of residence times over all scales and with a variety of contributing and complementary explanations. Aquifer heterogeneity is not required.

Jonh L. Wilson, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro


Thank you, John, for the kind comments and your unwavering support as mentor and friend.

I came to America from the Philippines 12 years ago to pursue an academic adventure, not knowing what to expect. So receiving this citation is a surreal and humbling moment in an unlikely chain of events.

Luck has favored me often. I pursued my M.S. at the University of Nebraska because of a recommendation by Carlo Arcilla, then a new professor at the University of the Philippines. My M.S. adviser, Vitaly Zlotnik, and my fellow student Stefan Kollet were critical to my early hydrogeologic training; I treasure their lifelong influence and the foundation laid by them.

The next fortuitous event was when Vitaly introduced me to John Wilson, who convinced me to join the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology’s hydrology Ph.D. program. My transformative period at Tech was due to the efforts of the late Rob Bowman, Fred Phillips, and, most important, John. The teacher and scholar I aspire to be are due to their inspiration. My training and mentorship under them resonate in all that I do now.

I am fortunate to be part of the Jackson School community at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). My colleagues at UT, especially Phil Bennett, Jack Sharp, Jay Banner, David Mohrig, and Peter Flemings, are pillars of support. My research team at UT, especially the amazingly talented and hard-working past and present students and postdocs, and collaborators around the world share this recognition.

I thank my family in the Philippines, especially my mother, Marylynne, who continues to be in my thoughts. Finally, I thank the love of my life and the hearth of our home, Tracy, and our two troublemakers, Makisig and Mayumi. I have my dream job, but the first glimpse of Tracy and the kids as the garage door opens tells me that the best part of the day has just started.

I am grateful to AGU for promoting a supportive environment for aspiring young scientists. I am profoundly honored by this award. Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.

M. Bayani Cardenas, University of Texas at Austin