The Power and Science of Water:
Part Seven in a Series about Endowed Faculty

From the UConn Foundation's newsletter, Our Moment (May 2012)

Professor Manos Anagnostou
Professor Manos Anagnostou, the
Northeast Utilities Chair in Environmental
Engineering in the School of Engineering
(Photo: Peter Morenus)

From Louisiana's Gulf Coast through Oklahoma, Kansas and on through Colorado, drought has killed crops and parched the land, reminiscent of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Across the ocean, in Ethiopia, a lack of policies regarding water resources has severely depleted agricultural production, starving inhabitants and creating a cholera epidemic.

Water – or the lack of it – is the cause, and an engineering faculty member at UConn can make a difference.

Professor Manos Anagnostou, the Northeast Utilities Chair in Environmental Engineering in the School of Engineering and a professor in civil and environmental engineering, is an expert in the remote sensing of water, a specialty that has become urgently important as the world debate about water rises to new levels.

"We are working to develop an early damage prediction model, with the idea of expanding it into a Center for Natural Hazards and Resilience for Civil Infrastructure," says Anagnostou, who uses his endowed chair to call together colleagues from around the state, UConn, and Northeast Utilities to work together on the project. "Often, it takes a catastrophe to drive people to build these centers. I don't want that to happen here."

While others may debate the validity of climate change, Anagnostou is certain about its impact on the weather. "There will be more severe volatility due to climate change," he says.

For Anagnostou, who grew up in Greece and fell in love with waterfalls at an early age, the study of water has brought him from an early education in Athens to a doctorate from the University of Iowa to work at NASA and numerous universities around the globe. He is something of a celebrity in the field, receiving the NASA new investigator award, a National Science Foundation career award, the Marie Curie Award from the Commission of the European Community, and others that mark his impact.

When asked about the relevance of his work, he answers without hesitating, "We are building prediction tools such as flood warning systems for early warning. And we are creating systems that predict where weather damage will occur. Northeast Utilities, for example is concerned about the weather impact on its transmission lines. Our work will help the company take preparatory action based on accurate information."

To support the UConn School of Engineering, please contact the UConn Foundation's development department.


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