Harman Receives 2016 Early Career Hydrologic Science Award

Ciaran Harman will receive the 2016 Early Career Hydrologic Science Award at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 12–16 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for significant early-career contributions to hydrologic science.


Ciaran Harman grew up in Western Australia, where he received undergraduate degrees in Arts and Engineering with first class honors. In 2005 he began graduate studies with Murugesu Sivapalan at the University of Illinois, where he earned a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering in 2011.

I met Ciaran for the first time in 2007 at the Joint Assembly in Acapulco, Mexico. I didn’t know who he was, and he introduced himself as a student of Siva’s working on hillslope processes. He asked me details about my papers that I didn’t even remember, and for the next 3 days he basically stalked me. It was the first sign of his persistence and his desire to understand every little detail of the problem he is working on.

By the time he finished his Ph.D., Ciaran had published 22 papers. This productivity is in part due to his ability to make substantive contributions in collaborative enterprises, including the NSF-funded Hydrological Synthesis Summer Institute of 2008, and the early design meetings for the Landscape Evolution Observatory of Biosphere 2. In 2011, Ciaran joined my research group as a CZO postdoc, exploring catchment co-evolution, and the combination of Newtonian and Darwinian approaches to hydrology. His paper on Darwinian hydrology quickly became a classic on the topic.

Since starting at Johns Hopkins University he has focused on nonstationary flow and transport processes, and his work has helped establish the theory of storage selection functions for lumped transport modeling. Together, we continue to work on transport and co-evolution through two NSF-funded collaborative research projects at Biosphere2.

Ciaran is a wonderful friend and colleague, and is an outstanding mentor to his students. It has been a pleasure to see Ciaran develop from a young Ph.D. student into this year’s Early Career Award recipient.

—Peter Troch, University of Arizona, Tucson


I am grateful to AGU; to the Hydrology section and its chair, Efi Foufoula-Georgiou; to those who nominated me; and most especially to Peter Troch for his unwavering support, and generous citation. I never found Newton’s suggestion of standing on the shoulders of giants to be terribly useful. Following them around at conferences, asking lots of questions, and generally being a pest seemed a more effective strategy.

I didn’t go to grad school with the intent of being a hydrologist. One fateful day I walked into Siva Sivapalan’s office to talk about a little hillslope model I had been playing with. Siva’s response was enthusiastic. Soon we were talking about heterogeneity, scaling, and closure relations—issues that I have returned to ever since. His fascination with these issues became my own.

I have been fortunate to have the mentoring and support of some wonderful people. First among them is Siva—as I work with students of my own I understand more and more the how deft his guidance and support was. But I am indebted to so many—Kitty Lohse, for showing me what tenacity looks like, particularly in the field; Praveen Kumar, for raising my mathematical consciousness; Suresh Rao, for introducing me to transport issues; Peter Wilcock, for his faith; and many more—giants all!

I am most grateful for the opportunity to play—to play with data, to play with technology, to play with theory, and, most especially, to play side by side with others—while searching for insights into real societal and environmental issues. Play is the opportunity to wander beyond our limits, and perhaps find something worth cutting a path back to. It is the best opportunity I can hope to share with the talented students I am privileged to work with.

—Ciaran Harman, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.