The Department of Geography & GIS is pleased to announce this year's Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient: Dr. Peter Wilcock. He will visit the department on Friday, March 1 to receive the award, meet with faculty and students, and present his research at GGIS colloquium.

Professor Wilcock received his Bachelor’s degree from our department in 1978, graduating summa cum laude. He went on to earn a master’s degree in geography at McGill University in Canada and a PhD in earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From 1987 to 2014, he was a faculty member in in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. In 2014 he moved to Utah State as Department Head of Watershed Sciences and is still a faculty member in that program.

Throughout his career, Wilcock has made important contributions to the understanding of sediment transport in rivers and streams. His research has provided fundamental insight into the mobilization and transport of mixtures of bed material. Prior to his work, our understanding of the movement and transport of bed material was mainly limited to sediment of relatively uniform size. By contrast, most natural rivers have beds consisting of particles of many different sizes, often ranging over several orders of magnitude in diameter.

Wilcock’s research has demonstrated how both the initial movement of grains on river beds consisting of a wide range of sizes as well as the transport of this mobilized material differ fundamentally from mobilization and transport of sediment of relatively uniform size. He has developed innovative sediment transport models for sediment mixtures that are widely used in fundamental research on rivers as well as for river management and restoration. The issue of stream and river restoration has become a major focus of his more recent research and he has led an effort within the academic community to infuse basic scientific principles and knowledge about the dynamics of rivers into restoration practice.

For his contributions, Professor Wilcock has been recognized as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has also received the Hans Albert Einstein Award (named after Albert Einstein’s son) from the American Society of Civil Engineers.