The 1992-93 Killian Award Lecturer is Professor Peter S. Eagleson, recognized internationally for his work in hydrology and hydro-climatology.
The announcement of Dr. Eagleson's selection as recipient of the James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award was made Wednesday, May 20, at the monthly faculty meeting by Professor Arnoldo C. Hax, chairman of the faculty selection committee. The other committee members were Professors Robert E. Jones, Sanjoy K. Mitter, John R. Myer and Ronald G. Prinn.
The Killian Award recognizes extraordinary professional accomplishments and service to MIT. It was established in 1971 as a tribute to the late Dr. Killian, MIT's 10th president and former chairman of the Corporation. The award carries an $8,000 honorarium and its recipient traditionally delivers a lecture in the spring term of the award year.
The selection committee's citation noted that hydrologists seek to understand the excesses and deficits of water flows and to engineer ways to control them.
"Hydrology is a practical subject, immediately important to society," it said. "But it is also one that requires careful observation and theoretical study that draws on fundamental ideas in fluid dynamics, climate science, geology, ecology, chemistry, statistics and predictability. Hydrology embraces physical science, engineering, economics, political sciences and agriculture."
The citation said that Dr. Eagleson, Edmund K. Turner Professor of Civil Engineering, "has led the extension of hydrology from the local into the regional and global scales." It continued:
"On these scales the budget of water is a fundamental part of the climate machine, and changes on these scales underlie much of the present concern about the effects of climate change on society.
"In this arena, Eagleson's research focuses on the tough questions. Why are natural continental vegetation and rainfall distributions so obviously correlated and what determines the coupling? Do we understand, and can we therefore incorporate accurately, fundamental hydrologic processes into climate prediction models? We need detailed hydrologic observations on regional and global scales which cannot practically be obtained by local in situ measurements. Can aircraft and satellite measurements serve to extrapolate local hydrologic observations to regional and global scales?"
As head of his department from 1970 to 1975, the committee said, Professor Eagleson guided it into "new, larger scale, and environmentally oriented areas." He also chaired the National Research Council Committee that recently produced an authoritative and imaginative strategy for the hydrologic sciences going into the next century. As president of the 25,000-member American Geophysical Union, the committee said, he "admirably represented and nurtured an emerging interdisciplinary view of the earth sciences which will help the AGU address the scientific and societal problems of the future."
Professor Eagleson, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, is a recipient of many honors, including the International Hydrology Prize, the Horton Medal of the AGU and the Research Prize of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He is the author of the widely used text, Dynamic Hydrology.
A native of Philadelphia, Professor Eagleson received the BS degree in 1949 and the MS degree in 1952, both from Lehigh University, and the ScD in 1956 from MIT. He was a second lieutenant in the US Army Corps of Engineers and served as assistant operations officer with a construction battalion in Okinawa in 1949-50.
He became an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering in 1955, associate professor in 1961, professor in 1965, and Turner Professor in 1984.
A version of this article appeared in the May 27, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 36, Number 32).