Nelson To Receive ASCE’s Hans Albert Einstein Award

BY 
April 7, 2014

Jonathan M. Nelson, Ph.D., M.ASCE, is the recipient of the Hans Albert Einstein Award for outstanding contributions to the advancement of river sediment transport and morphodynamics, and exceptional service to the community by co-founding the International River Interface Cooperative, developing innovative software for it, and tirelessly making it available to others through short courses. Chief of the Environmental Fluid Dynamics Project and the Geomorphology and Sediment Transport Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, for the U.S. Geological Survey, Nelson’s research work focuses on flow, sediment transport, and morphodynamics in rivers, with particular emphasis on the mechanics of bars and bedforms. Among his accomplishments, Nelson is widely recognized for the Nelson-Smith decomposition of boundary shear stress over a river dune into skin friction and form drag, which is now recognized as classic methodology. Second, along with his collaborators, Nelson staked out new territory when for the first time, through careful experiments, they concluded that the standard paradigm according to which bedload transport or sediment entrainment is correlated to boundary shear stress, breaks down under a wide range of conditions. Third, his extensive research on flow separation downstream of debris flow fans in the Colorado River revealed how sand bars are formed by flood flows, and later consumed via lateral erosion. Fourth, Nelson’s use of direct numerical simulation of sediment transport in turbulent flow fields represented a first in the field; and fifth, his innovation in combining numerical models of river flow and bed evolution directly with remote sensing is revolutionizing the way in which morphodynamic models are applied.

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