On 26 July 2020, the Prize Council Chairman Dr. Badran Al-Omar, under the direction of PSIPW President HRH Prince Khalid Bin Sultan, announced the winners for the 9th Award (2020) of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW).

PSIPW is a leading, global scientific award focusing on cutting-edge innovation in water research. It gives recognition to scientists, researchers and inventors around the world for pioneering work that addresses the problem of water scarcity in creative and effective ways.

To this end, PSIPW offer a suite of five prizes every two years, covering the entire water research landscape.

Nominations are currently open for the 10th Award (2022). Nominations can be made online for all five prizes directly through the PSIPW website: www.psipw.org .

Winners for the Ninth Award (2020)

Leading international scientists with a diversity of backgrounds -- including materials science, chemistry, engineering and environmental science, as well as hydrology -- won the five prizes for a wide variety of relevant, groundbreaking solutions that promise to help provide needed drinking water to the world's people.

The Creativity Prize, which is awarded to water-related interdisciplinary work, was shared by two winning teams, the team of Dr. Benjaming S. Hsiao and the team of Dr. Sherif El-Safty.

The winners of the four dedicated water specialist innovation prizes are Dr. Zbigniew Kundzewicz (Surface Water Prize), Dr. J. Jaime Gómez-Hernández (Groundwater Prize), Dr. Peng Wang ( Alternative Water Resources Prize), and Dr. Jay R. Lund  (Water Management and Protection Prize). Meet the PSIPW winners below.


Dr. Benjamin S. Hsiao

Creativity Prize: The team of Dr. Benjamin S. Hsiao (Stony Brook University, New York, USA).

Dr. Hsiao’s team has developed adsorbents, coagulants and membrane materials from sustainable, biomass-sourced nanocellulose fibres along with numerous practical applications that promise to provide effective water purification for off-grid communities of the developing world. Their work also involves the development of environmentally friendly biomass extraction processes to produce these low-cost cellulose nanofibers for use in energy-efficient industrial water treatments, desalination and heavy metal removal, capable of reaching a performance/price ratio of over 10-100 times better than existing commercial systems. (The team also includes Dr. Priyanka Sharma, research scientist at Stony Brook University.)



Creativity Prize: The team of Dr. Sherif El-Safty (National Institute for Materials Science, Japan)

Dr. El-Safty’s team has developed novel nano-materials in hierarchal and micrometric monoliths to achieve a nano-filtration/capture/detection process that quantitatively detects and selectively removes a wide range of water contaminants in a single step. A diverse range of these materials, which are conducive to mass-scale production, provides nano-filtration membranes and filters for water management applications, including purification, remediation, and the monitoring of hazard levels of various water sources.




Dr. Sherif El-Safty
Dr. Zbigniew Kundzewicz

Surface Water Prize: Dr. Zbigniew Kundzewicz (Polish Academy of Sciences, Poznan)

The work of Dr. Kundzewicz advances our understanding of the relationship between flood risk, river flow, and climate change. He applies this knowledge to develop a diversified portfolio of flood-risk management approaches (flood-risk mitigation, preparation, and recovery) that work together for maximum net effect, providing practical solutions for flood risk reduction and flood preparedness.





Groundwater Prize: Dr. J. Jaime Gómez-Hernández (Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain)

Dr. Gómez-Hernández’ work involves solving the inverse problem in hydrogeology (the process of calculating the causal factors that produce a set of observations). A reliable depiction of groundwater flow and mass transport in the subsurface requires characterising the spatial variability of the parameters that, unfortunately, display a large spatial variability making them impossible to predict at unsampled locations without considerable uncertainty. His greatest achievements in solving this problem include (1) proposing that natural heterogeneity is not well represented by multiGaussian fields, and (2) developing the ‘self-calibrating method’ using pilot points for the stochastic inversion of natural heterogeneity, which yields an estimate of the parameters, but also an estimate about their uncertainty. Both contributions, due to their novelty, were met with strong opposition at first, but have become common practice today.

Dr. Jaime Gomez Hernandez
Dr. Peng Wang

Alternative Water Resources Prize:  Dr. Peng Wang (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia)

Dr. Wang’s work is at the forefront of solar-evaporation water production technology. It involves solar-energy driven fresh-water generation using environmental nanotechnology, solar desalination, zero liquid discharge desalination, and atmospheric water harvesting. These works include a prototype and fully solar-driven, all-in-one “self-healing” solar distillation device; a solar evaporator to achieve zero-liquid-discharge desalination with high energy efficiency via solar distillation; a photovoltaics-membrane distillation device with unprecedented electricity generation performance that shifts electricity production from the ‘water consumer’ side to the ‘water producer’ side, and a new nano vapor sorbent that successfully provides continuous atmospheric water generation.


Water Management and Protection Prize: Dr. Jay R. Lund (University of California Davis, USA)

Dr. Lund developed the CALVIN water supply optimization model, a tool for the integrated analysis of regional water supply systems that couples traditional water supply criteria with economic considerations. CALVIN was successful in reshaping and optimizing water planning and management in California, with substantial improvements to the public welfare. Other countries around the world, including Mexico and Spain, have developed large-scale economic-engineering optimization models with CALVIN as their backbone. His work shows how the natural and social sciences can inform public policy in a challenging political environment and contribute to regional water conflict resolution. It also demonstrates how game theory, through the creative use of non-cooperative games, can be harnessed to develop more effective water management policies by identifying the externalities and evolutionary pathways of dynamic water resource problems.


Dr. Jay R. Lund