Reed selected as AGU 2019 Paul A. Witherspoon Lecturer

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Patrick Reed, the Joseph C. Ford Professor of Engineering in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was selected as the 2019 Paul A. Witherspoon Lecturer by the Hydrology Section of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the world's largest Earth and space science society.

The Witherspoon Lecture Award recognizes significant and innovative contributions in hydrologic sciences by a mid-career scientist, which includes the awardee’s research impact, innovative interdisciplinary work, application of research to socially important problems, and inspired and dedicated mentoring of young scientists, and acknowledges the awardee shows exceptional promise for continued leadership in hydrologic sciences, according to AGU.

Reed will be recognized and is invited to present at the AGU Fall Meeting this December in San Francisco, where his lecture, "Conflict, Coordination & Control in Water Resources Systems Confronting Change," will provide a vision for the future of the field.

In a synopsis of the lecture, Reed states:

Globally, our operation and planning of water resources systems must evolve to better confront the fundamental challenges posed by meeting rapidly evolving human demands and increasingly severe hydroclimatic extremes. Addressing these challenges requires an understanding of how our current institutions constrain adaptive actions and the resulting consequences of these constraints on the coupled human-natural system dynamics. Discovering strategies for better balancing multi-sectoral human demands and adapting to increasingly severe extremes requires modeling advances that permit high fidelity representations of state-action-consequence feedbacks while also accounting for the information available to the actual managers of water resources systems. Moreover, we must acknowledge that the actual state-action-consequence feedbacks are deeply uncertain given the myriad of ways that socioeconomic and climatic pressures may evolve in the future. This lecture will share recent innovations in the design of robust and adaptive strategies capable of managing conflicting objectives and evolving pressures. Our work is strongly focused on helping analysts and stakeholders (1) effectively and rapidly interrogate multiple competing hypotheses for how complex water management problems should be formulated and (2) explore the resulting tradeoffs, dependencies, and vulnerabilities of candidate actions to a broad range of potential system conditions and external forcings. These points are illustrated for the highly uncertain Food-Energy-Water tradeoffs confronting Vietnam within the Red River basin as well as cooperative water supply infrastructure investment pathways for the Research Triangle region in North Carolina, USA.

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