Dr. Richard P. Hooper is being recognized for his dedicated service to the hydrologic sciences community as founding executive director of the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science Inc. (CUAHSI). The realization that emerging water science research challenges cannot be addressed through traditional single-investigator projects led to the creation of CUAHSI, the first community research consortium for hydrologists. Hooper served as the consortium’s executive director and president for nearly its entire history, from 2003 just after CUAHSI was incorporated until his retirement in 2017. Under his leadership, the consortium grew from a few dozen members to more than 130 U.S. universities and international water science organizations, a full professional staff, and a wide range of programs supporting hydrologic science.
Hooper worked with the board of directors and university scientists to develop the first strategic plan and to secure base funding from the National Science Foundation’s Geosciences Directorate. He tirelessly advocated for CUAHSI in pursuit of opportunities with national and international collaborators for the benefit of the broad hydrologic community. This led not only to significant increases in CUAHSI’s budget but also, more important, to transformative services for hydrologic science. One notable example is the collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to engage the next generation of scientists through the annual summer institute for graduate students at the National Water Center.
Where Hooper has personally had a significant impact upon the community is in the area of hydroinformatics. He had a deep understanding of data services and cyberinfrastructure based on his pre-CUAHSI experience with the U.S. Geological Survey as director of the National Stream Quality Accounting Network and co–principal investigator of the Panola Mountain Research Watershed. As CUAHSI’s executive director, Hooper built upon that understanding to coordinate hydrology and information technology activities that have transformed prototypes developed in research projects like the Hydrologic Information System and HydroShare into full-scale CUAHSI services that benefit the entire hydrologic sciences community.
There are few scientists who would dedicate the majority of their productive career to helping the broader community develop research infrastructure and graduate student education and training programs. CUAHSI is now internationally recognized as the place for community hydrology. Hooper is that unique person who embodies the spirit of the Edward A. Flinn III Award as an individual “who personifies the Union’s motto of ‘unselfish cooperation in research’ through their facilitating, coordinating, and implementing activities.”
—Albert J. Valocchi, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and David Hyndman, Michigan State University, East Lansing
I am honored to receive the Flinn Award. I hope that the community’s efforts in developing CUAHSI will yield continuing benefits in the years to come. It has been a privilege to work with many of the leading scientists in hydrologic science over the past decade in crafting a community approach to complement and to support the research of individual scientists. I particularly want to recognize the efforts of the various chairs who have served CUAHSI, as well as the contributions of David Maidment and David Tarboton in advancing hydroinformatics. We are just now beginning to get a sense of the dividends that that work might bring with the emergence of continental-scale hydrologic modeling.
I have learned so much over the years at CUAHSI and believe that we have a strong foundation to continue the advancement of hydrologic science.
—Richard P. Hooper, Tufts University, Medford, Mass.