Smith wins top hydrology award for work on extreme flooding

By John Sullivan
July 25, 2018

James Smith, the William and Edna Macaleer Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, has been awarded the American Meteorological Society’s 2019 Hydrologic Sciences Medal.

The award, one of the highest granted in the field of hydrology, was issued in recognition of Smith’s “exceptional contributions to understanding physical and statistical aspects of flood hydrology, urban hydrometeorology, and hydroclimatology,” the AMS said in a statement announcing the award.

Smith’s research concerns extreme floods, and his laboratory team has conducted extensive research into rainfall and floods around the United States. Most recently, he has been involved in the Urban Water Innovation program of the National Science Foundation, for which his team has examined urban modification of rainfall climatology and the changing hydrologic response of urbanizing watersheds to extreme rainfall.

Smith, who served as chair of civil and environmental engineering from 2011-2017, joined the Princeton faculty in 1990 after working as a research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and received his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.

Among other honors, Smith is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union. He delivered the AMS 2011 Robert E. Horton Lecture.