Foufoula-Georgiou Receives 2007 Hydrologic Sciences Award

Efi Foufoula-Georgiou received the 2007 Hydrologic Sciences Award at the 2007 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for outstanding contributions to the science of hydrology.


foufoula-georgiou_efiIt is my great pleasure today to introduce the recipient of the 2007 AGU Hydrologic Sciences Award, Efi Foufoula-Georgiou.

Efi took her Ph.D. at the University of Florida (environmental engineering), and she has been at the University of Minnesota for a number of years where she is the McKnight Distinguished Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering. Efi is codirector of NCED, the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center dealing with Earth-surface dynamics.

Efi has been an associate editor for both Water Resources Research and Journal of Geophysical Research (among others), and she has served on numerous committees in support of the profession; she currently is on the executive committee of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI). She has been honored for her work previously, as you might imagine. She is a Fellow of AGU and the American Meteorological Society, and she is a member of the European Academy of Sciences. In 2002 she was awarded the John Dalton Medal by the European Geophysical Society.

The report of the selection committee for the Hydrological Sciences Award makes it clear why we are presenting this award to Efi today:

“Efi Foufoula-Georgiou has established a truly outstanding record of scholarship and leadership in hydrology. She has pioneered important developments in space-time rainfall modeling and significantly advanced our understanding of rainfall processes over a wide range of scales. In particular, Efi was the first to introduce a multi-scale analysis framework using wavelets to capture precipitation variability across a range of scales. More recently, Efi has led the effort to develop new metrics for the verification of numerical weather prediction and climate models. This includes an important recent contribution that introduces the Forecast Quality Index. Efi’s recent contributions also include important work on geomorphological signatures of river basins and scaling in floods, including an extended hydraulic geometry relationship that captures important scale dependencies. All of these contributions have had significant impacts on the field and have established Efi as an important intellectual leader. In addition to her truly outstanding scholarship, Efi has also held many positions of leadership, including positions within AGU, AMS, and CUAHSI. Her leadership in both research and in service makes Efi an outstanding choice for this year’s Hydrologic Sciences Award, and the committee enthusiastically recommends her for the 2007 AGU Hydrologic Sciences Award.”

I am pleased to present Efi with the award for important and far-reaching contributions to space-time rainfall modeling and scaling analysis in hydrology.

George M. Hornberger, University of Virginia, Charlottesville


Thank you, George, for the generous introduction. Such occasions offer the opportunity to take a look at the road that brought one here and reminisce about a few special landmarks in one’s personal and professional lives. So I’d like to take you back many years to my small hometown in Greece, when I was 13 years old. I had made up my mind that I wanted to become an engineer, and, as a result, I was moved to the boys’ high school, the only one offering that track in my small town. I still remember the first day of the math class. The teacher entered the room, looked at me and the other four girls in the corner, and said, “What do you think you are doing here?” I will keep the story short and only say that it took less than a week for this math teacher to become a good friend, my strongest advocate, and a mentor for life. I was taught an important lesson at the age of 13: It is knowledge, not gender, that changes people’s perspectives. I have followed this motto throughout my life.

This was an event that marked my personal life, but I’d like to recall an event that marked the life of hydrologic sciences. It was about 17 years ago that the NRC report “Opportunities in the Hydrologic Sciences” was published under the leadership of Peter Eagleson and many other colleagues in this room. This effort established the HS program within NSF as well as the terrestrial HS program within NASA. The “Blue Book” for the first time clearly articulated that HS is an integral part of Earth sciences and proposed a way to move our research forward. Lots of progress has been made since then of which we should all be proud. We have advanced the scientific foundation of our discipline. We have also developed a voice as a community (via the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science—CUAHSI—established 5 years ago), and we are still maturing at that. Water problems are real and pressing at all scales, and sound solutions are still lacking. I am convinced that hydrologists, naturally standing at the interface of Earth sciences and engineering, are in a unique position to take the lead in providing such solutions. We should seize this opportunity and secure the investment that will make this possible.

This award was bestowed on me, but it belongs to the many people who have supported and enhanced my career over these many years. There is too little space to mention all their names, but I cherish the friendship of many colleagues and former students who make it fun to be part of this community. Thank you all. Many thanks also to the University of Minnesota for fostering my career over the past 20 years. The stimulating environment and friendship of my colleagues have made all those winters feel warmer! Last but not least, I would like to thank my husband, Tryphon Georgiou, for being a scholar to look up to. I would like to dedicate this award to our two wonderful children, Katerina (17), who is beginning her studies in chemical-biomedical engineering, and Thomas (14), a talented musician. They are a constant source of inspiration and joy, and I am thankful to them for keeping me in perspective! Thank you all for the honor of this award.

Efi Foufoula-Georgiou , University of Minnesota, Minneapolis