Hydrology loses two giants: Ignacio Rodríguez-Iturbe and Hubert Morel-Seytoux

The department is mourning the loss of two hydrology pioneers with CSU CEE connections: alumnus Ignacio Rodríguez-Iturbe and Professor Emeritus Hubert Morel-Seytoux.

Rodríguez-Iturbe earned his Ph.D. from the department in 1967 and became a University Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M and Princeton University. He also held faculty positions at MIT, the University of Iowa, Simon Bolivar University and the University of Zulia, the latter two in Venezuela.

He was known for developing rigorous mathematical theories for hydrologic processes. His theory of the geomorphological unit hydrograph is among the most important contributions to the hydrologic sciences during the last 50 years, according to a Princeton publication.

Rodríguez-Iturbe was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1988 for innovations in the analysis, synthesis and sampling of hydrologic signals, and for inspirational leadership in hydrologic research and education. In 2002, he was awarded the Stockholm Water Prize for his role in developing the science of hydrology. He was a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society.

Two research prizes were named in his honor, one for the best paper of the year in “Ecohydrology,” established in 2016, and one at the Universidad del Zulia, Venezuela, established in 2011.

Rodríguez-Iturbe was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, and died in Caracas, Venezuela, Sept. 28 at the age of 80.

Hubert Morel-Seytoux2Morel-Seytoux was a faculty member from 1966 to 1991. After earning his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1962, he became a research engineer for the Chevron Oil Field Research Company from 1962 to 1966. His research in petroleum recovery led to his interest in hydrology.

While serving as chair of the American Geophysical Union’s Front Range branch, Morel-Seytoux founded Hydrology Days in 1980 to bring together regional hydrology-focused scientists, avoid the expense of traveling to far-away conferences and provide students with an opportunity to participate in a professional meeting. Hydrology Days is still hosted by CSU in partnership with AGU and going strong, 42 years later.

Following his tenure at CSU, Morel-Seytoux moved to California and became a hydrology consultant. He did consultancy work for agencies in Senegal, Saudi Arabia, France, India and throughout the United States.

He has authored or co-authored more than 150 publications that have been cited more than 2,300 times. He received an ASCE best paper award for a study in Water Resources Planning and Management in 1999.

Morel-Seytoux was a member of the American Geophysical Union, American Society of Civil Engineers, Society of Petroleum Engineers, American Meteorological Society and American Society of Agricultural Engineers. He received the Colorado State University College Engineering Abell Faculty Research Award in 1985.

Morel-Seytoux was born in Calais, Artois, France. He turned 90 on Oct. 6 and passed away Oct. 22.