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Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe
Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe

James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Emeritus
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Emeritus

Ph.D., Colorado State University, 1967

Room: E209A Engineering Quad
Phone: 609-258-4600

Personal Webpage:

Curriculum Vitae

Short Bio

Honors and Awards

  • Stockholm Water Prize, 2002
  • Bowie Medal, American Geophysical Union, 2009
  • Horton Medal, American Geophysical Union, 1998
  • Macelwane Medal, American Geophysical Union, 1977
  • National Academy of Sciences (USA), 2010
  • National Academy of Engineering (USA), 1988
  • Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican, 2007
  • Spain Royal Society of Sciences, 2003
  • Honorary Doctor's Degrees: University of Genova (1992), University of Zulia (2003), University of Cantabria (2011)
  • Mexico Prize of Science and Technology, 1994
  • Venezuela National Science Prize, 1991

Concurrent University Appointments

  • Associated Faculty, Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI)
  • Associated Faculty, Department of Geosciences
  • Associated Faculty, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


  • CEE306 Hydrology
  • CEE587 Ecohydrology
  • Freshman Seminar 105 "Water: Keystone for Sustainable Development"


Research Areas

  • Ecohydrology
  • Environmental Engineering and Water Resources
  • Surface Hydrology and Hydrometeorology
  • Water Quality, Biogeochemical Cycles and Bioremediation

Research Interests

The dynamics of the interaction between climate, soil, and vegetation are the main focus of Rodriguez-Iturbe's research group. These dynamics are crucially influenced by the scale at which the phenomena are studied as well as by the type of climate, the physiological characteristics of the vegetation, and the pedology of the soil. Moreover, not only the temporal aspects but also the spatial aspects of the dynamics are crucially dependent on the above factors.

Soil moisture plays a key role in the above dynamics, and the group is involved in its space-time characterization. This involves a range of approaches that include challenging problems in the physics of the interaction as well as on its mathematical description. It is necessary to account for the random character of precipitation, both in occurrence and intensity, as well as for the nonlinear dependence of infiltration, evapotranspiration, and leakage on the soil moisture state. The group's approach has been to understand and model first the balance of soil moisture at a point under the above conditions. The solution of the stochastic differential equations corresponding to the point dynamics have provided the probabilistic description of the soil-plant-climate interaction at a site. The spatial interaction between different sites with the same or with different types of vegetation is also being studied via mathematical probalistic models.

The intertwined hydrologic, ecologic, and geomorphologic dynamics are responsible for a large number of crucially important environmental variables. Thus channel networks act as ecological corridors playing an important role in the biodiversity of freshwater fish populations. Similarly, soil moisture and runoff are important hydrologic drivers impacting the spatially distributed habitat capacity controlling biodiversity of vegetation.

At larger spatial scales, precipitation itself is influenced by the soil moisture present in the region and this phenomenon needs to be incorporated into the modeling scheme. At intermediate scales involving river basins, the geomorphologic characteristics of the drainage network is a commanding factor in the spatial organization of soil moisture. Rodriguez-Iturbe's group is trying to link the recent advances on the scaling characteristics of the network with the dynamics of the soil moisture and some related ecological processes. With the above framework the group hopes to elucidate some of the most fundamental issues of the climate-soil-vegatation interaction that lie at the heart of hydrology.

Research Areas

  1. Ecohydrology
  2. Hydrogeomorphology and surface hydrology
  3. Modelling of interacting hydrologic, ecologic, and geomorphological dynamics
  4. Hydrologic controls of biodiversity in river basins and savannas
  5. Soil moisture dynamics in space and time
  6. Hydrologic and ecologic dynamics of wetlands

Updated: September 9, 2016