Murugesu (Siva) Sivapalan is Chester and Helen Siess Endowed Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering (University of Ceylon, 1975), M.Eng in Water Resources Engineering (Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, 1977), and M.A. (1983) and Ph.D (1986) in Civil Engineering, with a major in hydrology, from Princeton University. Between 1978 and 1981, Siva worked as a consulting civil engineer in Nigeria, West Africa. Later, during the period 1986-1988 he served as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at Princeton University. He spent the next 17 years at the Centre for Water Research, The University of Western Australia (UWA), joining as a Lecturer in 1988, and becoming full Professor in 1999. He joined the University of Illinois in 2005. At UWA and at the University of Illinois Siva has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in watershed hydrology, engineering hydrology and stochastic hydrology. Since 2015 Dr Sivapalan has held the position of Chester and Helen Siess Endowed Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois. Siva has also served as Visiting Professor at the Vienna University of Technology (1995), Delft University of Technology (2001, 2008-2010) and Tsinghua University, China (2012), and as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia (2011). During 2015 he served brief stints as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Peter Wall Institute, University of British Columbia, Canada, and as the President’s International Visiting Fellow (PIFI) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He currently holds a continuing appointment as Distinguished Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, China.
Professor Sivapalan has published over 240 articles in peer-reviewed international journals, many of which are highly cited (over 12,525 citations on ISI, H index of 56; over 12,616 on Scopus, H=59; and, over 23,236 citations on Google Scholar, with an H index of 75). These cover a wide range of topics, including the effects of heterogeneity and scale, flood frequency, water balance and water quality modeling, ecohydrology and socio-hydrology. He has been a member of the editorial boards of several scientific journals, including as Executive Editor (2004-2012) of the European Geosciences Union’s Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) journal. He has been a founder or leader of several global initiatives that helped shape and direct the science of hydrology. He was founding chair of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences’ (IAHS) Decade on Predictions in Ungauged Basins (2003-2012) initiative, and co-editor of the acclaimed book, Runoff Prediction in Ungauged Basins (Cambridge University Press, 2013). He was leader of the NSF-funded University of Illinois Hydrologic Synthesis Project, which resulted in three journal special issues in Water Resources Research, Journal of Geophysical Research and HESS. Through these later community efforts he has contributed to building up the scientific foundations for a second global, decadal (2013-2022) IAHS initiative called Panta Rhei: Change in Hydrology and Society. Along the way he also co-founded the new sub-field of socio-hydrology.
Dr Sivapalan has received several awards and honors for his research contributions. He has been elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (the Australian equivalent of the NAE), Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), Fellow of the Modeling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand (MSSANZ), and Life Member (Fellow) of the International Water Academy. He is the recipient of the European Geosciences Union’s (EGU) John Dalton Medal, the Biennial Medal (Natural Systems) of the Modeling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand, the International Hydrology Prize of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS, joint with WMO and UNESCO), and AGU’s Hydrological Sciences Award. In 2003 he was awarded the Centenary Medal by the Australian Commonwealth Government “for service to Australian Society in Hydrology and Environmental Engineering.” He received AGU’s Robert Horton Medal, the most prestigious award in hydrology worldwide, "for fundamental contributions to the science of hydrologic predictions at the watershed scale", and EGU’s Alfred Wegener Medal and Honorary Membership, the highest recognition that can be bestowed by EGU upon a geoscientist. In 2012 he was conferred an Honorary Doctorate by the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, in recognition of his contributions to hydrology and water resources systems research. In 2018 he was named a recipient of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (Creativity Prize) for his role in developing the new field of Socio-hydrology. Also in 2018 the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) launched the Sivapalan Young Scientists Travel Award (SYSTA) in honor of Professor Sivapalan’s contributions to the IAHS in particular and to the development of hydrologic science in general.