Alberto Montanari

University of Bologna

2018 William Kaula Award Winner

Alberto Montanari received the William Kaula Award at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held 12 December 2018 in Washington, D. C. The award honors an individual “for unselfish service to the scientific community through extraordinary dedication to, and exceptional efforts on behalf of, the Union’s publications program.”


As editor in chief of Water Resources Research (WRR) from 2013 to 2017, Prof. Alberto Montanari transformed WRR into a truly international go-to journal for premier interdisciplinary publications spanning a wide range of disciplines concerning the natural and social sciences of fresh water and its management.

Almost immediately after his appointment began, Dr. Montanari laid out the Editorial Board’s vision for WRR (“address with fervor issues related to the interaction and feedbacks between water and society”) and initiated a special fiftieth-anniversary collection of manuscripts. The result was 57 superb papers, with titles reflecting a broad and enduring perspective. Dr. Montanari played a special role in framing the collection and attracting high-quality manuscripts.

To encourage a broader pool of reviewers, Dr. Montanari initiated an annual listing of all reviewers who served in the previous year.

To stimulate discussion and awareness on relevant and timely research issues on water resources and related disciplines, Dr. Montanari initiated a series of debates on the big issues. Two collections of papers have been published in Debates on Water Resources: “The Future of Hydrological Sciences: A (Common) Path Forward?” and “Perspectives on Socio-Hydrology.”

To encourage submissions from both the AGU and European Geosciences Union (EGU) communities, Alberto consistently reached out to potential authors and held “Meet the Editor” sessions at AGU and EGU meetings.

Dr. Montanari clearly expanded the international reach of WRR, adding two other European scientists and a Chinese scientist to the WRR Editorial Board. He visited China to attract more quality manuscripts from Asia and encouraged submissions from the European community through his roles as past president of the Hydrology section of EGU, as an officer of EGU, as president of the International Commission on Water Resources Systems of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), and as first chair of the 2013–2022 scientific decade “Panta Rhei” of IAHS.

Given this exemplary activity building WRR as the premier journal for water resources research, it is notable that these efforts yielded a substantial increase in the impact factor of WRR.

In summary, Prof. Alberto Montanari has initiated creative and effective innovations that have led to demonstrable increases in the impact of Water Resources Research. His extraordinary efforts in serving the scientific community on behalf of the AGU publications program have inspired other editors to implement his ideas. For these significant contributions to advancing AGU publications, he is recognized by the William Kaula Award.

—Steven Ghan, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash.


I am extremely thankful to AGU for awarding me the Kaula Award. I feel profoundly humbled to join the ranks of previous recipients, whom I deeply admire as role models for their dedication to the scientific community. To be the editor of a prominent scientific journal is an enormous privilege that gives one the opportunity to know very interesting people. From every author, reviewer, and editorial assistant, I have gained inspiring ideas and advice. Above all, they shared with me a positive attitude and bright-eyed enthusiasm, as research is a peaceful source of inspiration and faith in humanity and its future.

Water Resources Research is the AGU journal I had the privilege to handle. It deals with water science. Together with air, fire, and earth, water is one of the classical elements that in ancient Greece were proposed to explain the complexity of nature. Indeed, water is a synonym for life. I believe that the water cycle still holds fascinating mysteries. Gaining a better understanding of water processes is essential for the sustainable development of environment and humanity.

During my editorial activity, I learned the value of diversity. I did all that was in my power to give voice to all scientists, no matter their personal history or opinion. In fact, I learned that diversity of views is essential for the development of science and society.

I am extremely grateful to the editors who worked with me on Water Resources Research and the editors of the other AGU journals. I wish to thank the associate editors and the thousands of reviewers I had the fortune to work with. The amount of energy, passion, and working hours that scientists voluntarily dedicate to refereeing is really amazing. I am indebted to the AGU Publications Committee and the staff of AGU Publications for their professional support and their friendship. Working with AGU was one of my best professional experiences. I am thankful to my nominator, Steven Ghan, whom I was privileged to meet at AGU, and my supporters Günter Blöschl, Ximing Cai, and Amilcare Porporato. I am also indebted to the editors of Water Resources Research who handled the journal before and after me. I learned a lot from them. Finally, I am grateful to my wife, Flavia, and my son, Nicolò, for their love and their patience during the evenings and nights I spend reviewing papers.

—Alberto Montanari, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy