Rao S. Govindaraju, Ph.D., P.E., P.H., D.WRE, F.EWRI, Dist.M.ASCE, an eminent scholar in the field of hydrology and internationally recognized for his work in statistical hydrology, has been honored with inclusion by ASCE in its 2019 class of Distinguished Members for his far-reaching contributions in developing advanced statistical methods to address complex hydrologic problems associated with flooding, drought, and extreme climatic events, and for significantly influencing civil engineering education.
Govindaraju is the Bowen Engineering Head and the Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor of the Lyles School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University, and has held academic appointments at Purdue since 1997. Under his leadership the school’s graduate and undergraduate programs are ranked in the top 10 by a host of ranking organizations, including U.S. News & World Report. He has advised about 16 Ph.D. students and 22 M.S. students.
His research work – as principal investigator or Co-PI and supported by the NSF, EPA, DOE, and DOD – attends to issues of heterogeneity and uncertainty in surface and subsurface hydrology, contaminant transport, watershed hydrology, and climatic influences. It has been used in the U.S. for managing pollutant loads under sparse data and uncertainty. In Italy, studies with collaborators have highlighted run-on mechanisms with relevance to hydrologic design. In India, some of his studies have focused on droughts.
Govindaraju’s efforts have also shed new light on how one can reconstruct rainfall, streamflow, and water quality sequences when records are sparse or unavailable. . Along with students, he has developed machine learning techniques that engage sea-surface temperatures along with associated uncertainty information to predict rainfall in different parts of the world. Specifically, he has developed algorithms to cope with uncertainty in input data for hydrologic applications.
Numerous awards have recognized his labors. Among them are ASCE’s Ven Te Chow Award (2019), ASCE’s State of the Art of Civil Engineering Award (2016), the STAHY Best Paper Award (2013), and the S.N. Gupta Memorial Lecture Award (2009). Other ASCE honors are the Alfred Noble Prize, Arid Lands Hydraulic Research Prize, Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize, Best Paper Award for the Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, and Best Reviewer Award for the Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering.
He has coauthored four books, over 130 refereed journal papers, 24 book chapters, and a passel of conference papers and reports. Govindaraju’s editorial talents, too, are formidably invested: he has been an editor concurrently at three hydrology or hydraulics journals since 2011. He has been editor-in-chief of ASCE’s Journal of Hydrologic Engineering since 2012.
Govindaraju, besides being a Fellow of EWRI, is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers, a member of the American Geophysical Union, a Life Member of both the Indian Institute of Hydraulics and the Indian Association of Hydrologists, and was President of the American Institute of Hydrology in 2017-18.
He is both a licensed professional engineer and a professional hydrologist, and he supports the licensure path for students.