CEE Assistant Professor Awarded Prestigious Macelwane Medal

Jasper Vrugt honored for contributions to geophysical sciences

Jasper Vrugt, Ph.D, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, was one of three young scientists to receive the highly coveted Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union (AGU).  Vrugt was recognized for his numerous contributions in the areas of surface and vadose zone hydrology and hydrometeorology, and will also become an AGU Fellow in the process.

Established in 1961, the Macelwane Medal was renamed in 1986 in honor of former AGU president James B. Macelwane (1953–1956). Renowned for his contributions to geophysics, Macelwane was deeply interested in teaching and encouraging young scientists. The Macelwane Medal is awarded annually to as many as three individuals “for significant contributions to the geophysical sciences by an outstanding young scientist (less than 36 years of age).”

Vrugt was the first hire at UC Irvine for the new Environmental Institute initiative, which brings together scientists to identify new research needed for an improved understanding of society's response to a changing climate, and for environmental science to better respond to societal needs.

Vrugt specializes in environmental systems modeling, and develops optimization and uncertainty analysis methods that analyze the discrepancy between model predictions and actual observations to improve the theory, understanding and predictability of environmental systems. Much of his work is within the context of surface hydrology and soil physics, but also spans the fields of ecology, hydrogeophysics, hydrometeorology, and geophysics.

Vrugt earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees (cum laude, 1999 and 2004, respectively) from the University of Amsterdam. He recently received the 2010 Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the European Geosciences Union for his development of general-purpose algorithms and numerical approaches that attempt to analyze the discrepancy between model predictions and actual observations to improve the theory, understanding and predictability of environmental systems.  He was named one of the Elsevier Top 50 Most Talented Young People from the Netherlands in 2009 and received an Early Career Award in Soil Physics from the Soil Science Society of America in 2007, the Hydrology Prize 2004-2006 from the Dutch Hydrological Society in 2007, and a J. Robert Oppenheimer Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship from LANL in 2006. He has published more than 60 papers in peer reviewed international journals that have jointly received more than 1000 citations, and is associate editor of the journals Water Resources Research, Vadose Zone Journal, and Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. He is also on the Editorial Board of the journal Environmental Modeling & Software.