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Institute Development Recap

The American Institute of Hydrology (AIH) played an important role at the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) Annual Conference that took place in Seattle, Washington, November 7-9, 2022. Salam Murtada (Director, Institute Development) and Dr. Zhong Zhang (Director, Academic Affairs) attended the conference and represented AIH.

On the first day of the conference, AIH facilitated a climate change contest during a 30-minute engagement break. The game involved grouping participants for brainstorming ideas on select climate change-related topics. An appointed spokesperson from each group then presented their team’s ideas. The level of engagement and dedication was remarkable; they were all winners!

During a technical session, Salam provided a presentation titled Certifying the Practice of Hydrology. Salam’s presentation was an overview of AIH – its mission, purpose, structure, membership, and process for certification of hydrologists.

Salam also participated as one of the panelists for the Student and Early Career Professional Development Luncheon to advise students and professionals about their careers in hydrology and benefits of certification for hydrologists.  

To promote our AIH membership and certification, AIH partnered with AWRA to offer 2022 Annual Conference attendees 50% off the membership application and examination fees. The collaboration also involved other benefits, such as featuring AIH information and items in conference materials, and e-mail blasts about AIH to all conference attendees.

As Gold Level Sponsors of the conference, AIH was able to present the 2022 AIH Awards during the conference Awards Luncheon. The Charles V. Theis Award for Groundwater, Ray K. Linsley Award of Surface Water, and Robert G. Wetzel Award for Water Quality were issued to Dr. Todd Halihan, Dr. Bruce Wilson and Dr. Vijay P. Singh, respectively, for their outstanding contributions to the field of hydrology. Dr. Halihan and Dr. Wilson accepted their awards in-person.  Dr. Singh accepted the award in absentia due to his residency overseas. The awardees offered important remarks during their acceptance speeches.

Dr. Todd Halihan, recipient of the Charles V. Theis Award for Groundwater, is a professor and Sun Company Clyde Wheeler Chair in Hydrogeology at Oklahoma State University, as well as Chief Technical Officer for Aestas, LLC. Dr. Halihan’s professional interests center in subsurface characterization using electrical hydrogeology and water supply sustainability.  He has been an associate editor for Groundwater and has served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the U.S. Chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists.  He served as the Chair of the Hydrogeology Division and the South-Central Section of the Geological Society of America. He was also the National Ground Water Association’s 2018 McEllhiney Lecturer. 

“This award,” remarked Dr. Halihan, “is named after C.V. Theis who had some serious negative feedback by establishing quantitative analysis for transient well hydraulics. In my work, I have tried to advance an approach similar to the energy industry of scanning, then drilling our groundwater sites to have a more comprehensive conceptual model. The negative feedback was surprising, but I found inspiration in the way Theis managed his detractors. The lesson I learned is to find guidance from supporters who want to see the science advance and change, which inspires me far more than those detractors that seem to like the status quo.”

Dr. Bruce Wilson,  recipient of the Ray K. Linsley Award for Surface Water, is a professor in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Wilson’s research is focused on improving our understanding of hydrologic and water quality processes and erosion mechanics. Dr. Wilson has received awards from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Center for Transportation Studies, and the Erosion Control Association. Professor Wilson is also a recipient of the Distinguished Graduate and the Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Awards, and the Charles E. Bowers Teaching Award.  He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

“Our survival,” remarked Dr. Wilson, “the survival of human civilization – is dependent on the wise use of our water resources.  We should be proud – pat ourselves on our back – that our work is critically important.  But we should also be sober because our system is so complex – complex physical, chemical, biological components, and complex interactions among them.” Dr. Wilson acknowledged his colleagues, Dr. John Nieber (AIH Past-President) and Dr. Curt Larson, his graduate school advisor who happened to be Professor Ray Linsley’s PhD student.

Dr. Vijay P. Singh (AIH Past President), recipient of the Robert G. Wetzel Award for Water Quality, is a University Distinguished Professor, a Regents Professor, and Caroline and William N. Lehrer Distinguished Chair in Water Engineering at Texas A&M University. Dr. Singh has published extensively in the areas of hydrology, groundwater, water quality, irrigation engineering, hydraulics, and water resources (more than 1470 journal articles; 35 textbooks; 85 edited reference books; 121 book chapters; and 330 conference papers). He has received more than 107 national and international awards, and three honorary doctorates. He has served as President of AIH, Chair of Watershed Council of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and President of American Academy of Water Resources Engineers (AAWRE). He has served as editor-in-chief of three journals and two book series and serves on editorial boards of more than 25 journals and three book series. Dr. Singh is an Honorary diplomat of ASCE-AAWRE, a distinguished member of ASCE, a Distinguished Fellow of AGGS, a Distinguished Honorary Member of IWRA, and an Honorary Member of AWRA.

“I am deeply humbled to receive the award for two reasons,” remarked Dr. Singh. “First, Dr. Wetzel was a giant in the water quality field, and it is a rare honor for me to have my name associated with Dr. Wetzel. Second, I have long been associated with the American Institute of Hydrology, almost since its beginning years.  AIH is like my home institute inception and to be recognized by it is very special to me.” Dr. Singh acknowledged the support of his family, especially his late wife Anita, students and colleagues, among others.

The award ceremony concluded after honoring outstanding hydrologists and giving tribute to the leaders of the past, who paved the way for them to continue their important work.

Thanks to its leaders and organizers, AWRA delivered a very successful Annual Conference in 2022!

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