Murugesu (Siva) Sivapalan is presently Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He obtained a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering (Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, 1975) and enrolled at AIT with a Keidanren Scholarship from Japan and obtained his M.Eng in Water Resources Engineering in May 1977. After briefly working at AIT as a Research Associate he went to Ibadan, Nigeria to work as a consulting engineer for 4 years. In 1981 he proceeded to Princeton University, USA, and obtained M.A. (1983) and Ph.D (1986) degrees in Civil Engineering, with a major in hydrology. Again, after working as a post-doctoral Research Associate at Princeton University for 2 years, he joined the Centre for Water Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, as a Lecturer, was eventually promoted to full Professor in 1999. He joined the University of Illinois in 2005. Over the last 25 years Dr Sivapalan has also served as Visiting Professor at the Vienna University of Technology, Austria, the Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, Tsinghua University, China, and has been Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia.
Dr. Sivapalan's research focuses on making predictions in ungaged basins. A basic aim of his research is to understand observed space-time variabilities of runoff processes at all scales, including their extremes, and to interpret these in terms of the underlying climate-soil-vegetation-topography interactions, including changes due to human impacts. A further aim is to investigate the interactions between runoff processes, and biogeochemical, ecological and social processes, and to develop new process-based models capable of making predictions of both water quantity and quality in ungaged basins, subject to natural and human-induced changes to climate and the landscape. Dr. Sivapalan teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in watershed hydrology, engineering hydrology, and stochastic hydrology.
Professor Sivapalan has published over 200 articles in peer-reviewed international journals, many of which are highly cited (with over 6400 citations on ISI and an H index of 41), focusing on a wide range of topics, including the effects of heterogeneity and scale issues, flood frequency analysis, water balance and water quality modeling, and ecohydrology. Dr Sivapalan has been a world leader in several global initiatives that have helped advance the field. He was the founding chair of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences’ (IAHS) Decade on Predictions in Ungauged Basins (PUB – 2003-1012) initiative. In recent times he has been the leader of the US-NSF-funded University of Illinois Hydrologic Synthesis project, which has resulted in three special issues in Water Resources Research, Journal of Geophysical Research and Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) journals, and he has contributed to the development of the scientific platform for a new global and decadal (2013-2022) initiative called Panta Rhei: Change in Hydrology and Society. He is, and has been a member of the editorial boards of several international journals and has been Executive Editor (2004-2012) of the European Geosciences Union’s HESS journal. He is a co-editor of the widely acclaimed book Runoff Prediction in Ungauged Basins (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
Dr Sivapalan has received several honors for his research contributions. He has been elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (FTSE), Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and Life Member of the International Water Academy. He is the recipient of the European Geophysical Society’s John Dalton Medal, the International Hydrology Prize of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS), and the Hydrological Sciences Award (AGU). He was also the recipient of the Robert E. Horton Medal of AGU, the highest and most prestigious award in hydrology, worldwide, "for fundamental contributions to the science of hydrologic predictions at the watershed scale". In 2003, he received the Centenary Medal of the Australian Government “for service to Australian Society in Hydrology and Environmental Engineering.” In 2012 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, in recognition of his contributions to hydrology and water resources systems research. In October 2011 he was proud to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award of the Asian Institute of Technology Alumni Association (AITAA).