Manzoni Receives 2014 Early Career Hydrologic Science Award

Stefano Manzoni received the 2014 Early Career Hydrologic Science Award at the 2014 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, held 15–19 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for significant early career contributions to hydrologic science.


Manzoni_Stefano-Early_Career_Hydrology_Science_Award_SIZEDI am thrilled to announce Stefano Manzoni as the successful recipient of the 2014 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Early Career Hydrologic Science Award for developing new theories of soil water–biota interactions that unfolded the role of soil moisture fluctuations on plant-microbial structure and function. I have known Stefano since he first arrived at Duke University from Polytechnic of Turin (Italy) in 2003 while working as an undergraduate researcher with Professor Amilcare Porporato. Stefano’s Ph.D. work with Amilcare Porporato began in 2004 with a focus on the coupled water/carbon and nutrient cycling in soils. Stefano presented his first results from global-scale litter decomposition data sets that suggest terrestrial decomposers may react to nutrient shortage by respiring more, a response accurately predicted by his stoichiometric theories for these systems. These results appeared in Science the same day Stefano defended his Ph.D. dissertation.

My own interactions with Stefano commenced when he initiated work on stomatal optimality theory that successfully described leaf gas exchange under different environmental conditions, including highly intermittent light and leaf nitrogen levels. This is the first major theory that bridges water use strategy to stomatal movement in response to its immediate environment. It is quite likely that this theory will be eminently employed in large-scale climate models, where greening of the biosphere continues to resist complete theoretical treatment.

More broadly, Stefano’s research style combines rigor, generality, completeness, and simplicity in ways never attempted before in this interdisciplinary field. He is able to “digest” cutting-edge knowledge from soil science, hydrology, ecology, plant physiology, atmospheric sciences, dynamical systems theory, and stochastic processes so as to provide a comprehensive view of water-material cycling in ecosystems.  All his letter writers agree that he should be awarded the Early Career Hydrologic Science Award for moving ecohydrology from its empirical roots to a field that accommodates many of its spatiotemporal dimensions, thereby allowing this field to address pressing societal problems.

—Gabriel Katul, Duke University, Durham



Thank you, Gaby, for your kind words. I am deeply honored to be here and receive the Early Career Hydrologic Science Award, and I would like to thank AGU, the Hydrology section, and Eric Wood for this recognition. Sometimes I think back to the moment that set in motion the personal and professional trajectory that led me here today. As is often the case, it all started with a simple yes.

I was finishing my master’s at Polytechnic of Turin, and looking for a thesis supervisor, I knocked on Amilcare Porporato’s office door. His answer was positive, but he was moving to Duke University and asked me if I would join him. So I finished my thesis at Duke, thinking that a thesis abroad would not change my life, but it did. I started my Ph.D. with Amilcare, and since then, he has been an advisor, a mentor, and a role model. His contagious enthusiasm, independent way of thinking, and effortless jumping across disciplinary boundaries have all contributed to shaping me as a researcher as well as a person.

While at Duke University, I was fortunate to meet Gabriel Katul. He has been a generous and ever-present supervisor, mentor, and friend. Gaby’s approach is inspiringly pragmatic and focused toward sharply defined objectives—an approach that left a strong mark in my contribution to the field of ecohydrology.

Many other colleagues always supported and encouraged me, in particular Rob Jackson, Josh Schimel, Alberto Montanari, and, more recently, Martin Weih. Finally, my most sincere thanks to Giulia Vico, my wife and among my most supportive research collaborators. As some of you probably know, sharing your life with a scientist is an opportunity and a challenge in its own right—with Giulia it is a fun and engaging adventure. In closing, I hope I will have a chance to continue working in and giving my contribution to the Hydrology section and the wider AGU.

—Stefano Manzoni, Stockholm University, Sweden