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Professor to study links between humans, monsoon


April 02, 2009

The North American monsoon is a crucial water source in the Southwest that ASU's Enrique Vivoni will explore in depth this summer as he begins a large-scale study of the effects of vegetation dynamics during this annual season of wind and rain.

"We will pursue an important line of research that explores the link between the Earth's hydrosphere and biosphere to identify how human impacts on ecosystems can indirectly affect the North American monsoon," says Vivoni, an associate professor with a joint appointment in ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering in the Ira Fulton School of Engineering,

Vivoni is one of the most-recently recognized recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the Nation's highest honor for professionals at the start of their science and engineering research careers.

"It is a wonderful honor to receive this prestigious award in recognition of our work in understanding hydrometeorological processes in semiarid regions in the southwestern U.S.," says Vivoni. He was nominated for the presidential recognition by the U.S. Department of Defense and its Terrestrial Sciences Program in the Army Research Office.

The award citation recognizes "his innovative and integrative hydrometeorological research to characterize and model land surface conditions and their influence on hydrologic and atmospheric processes in southwestern North America; and for his commitment to student development and [his] role in advising students at all levels, including visiting students."

Vivoni's research involves observing and predicting the interactions of the hydrological cycle with ecological, atmospheric and geomorphologic processes in the Southwest and in northern Mexico.

The award include up to five years of funding for research in support of critical government missions. Vivoni's research will provide knowledge to help guide environmental management and stewardship of federal lands in the region.

"I truly believe that the School of Earth and Space Exploration's mission to create the next generation of scientists and engineers that are able to explore the Earth is critical as we continue to confront significant environmental and climate challenges."

Vivoni's accomplishments include a 2008 U.S. Fulbright Scholar Award, which is supporting his current research in Sonora, Mexico, and the Most Promising Engineer Award given at the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference in 2007.

Vivoni joined ASU this year. Previously, he was an associate professor of hydrology at the New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology in Socorro, N.M. He earned his bachelor's degree in environmental engineering in 1996, a master's degree in civil and environmental engineering in 1998 and a doctorate in hydrology in 2003 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.