Rodríguez-Iturbe named to Pontifical Academy

Ignacio Rodríguez-Iturbe, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been named a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The academy, while under the direct protection of the Pope, is an autonomous body composed of 82 scientists from around the world. Previous and current academy members include many Nobel Prize winners.

The academy's mandate is to serve as a source of objective scientific information for the Vatican and the international scientific community. Members are neither selected nor influenced by national, political or religious factors.

The purpose of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is to promote the progress of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences and the study of related epistemological questions and issues.

A native of Venezuela, Rodríguez-Iturbe is one of the world's leading authorities on hydrology and is considered one of the fathers of ecohydrology, a field that integrates the hydrological and ecological sciences.

Rodríguez-Iturbe, a member of the National Academy of Engineering as well as a number of other academies throughout the world, received his undergraduate degree from the Universidad del Zulia in Venezuela and his graduate degrees from the California Institute of Technology and Colorado State University. Before joining Princeton in 1999, he taught at Zulia, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Universidad Simon Bolivar and Texas A&M.

Last year the Tribunal de las Aguas de Valencia in Spain bestowed upon Rodríguez-Iturbe its highest honor, the "blusa del agua," in recognition of his contributions to the science of water. His numerous other awards include the American Geophysical Union's Horton and Macelwane medals and the Stockholm Water Prize, which is considered the Nobel Prize in all subjects related to water.

Pope Benedict XVI will formally receive Rodríguez-Iturbe into the academy in a Solemn Pontifical Audience in October 2008.