Murugesu Sivapalan

Chester and Helen Siess Endowed Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor of Geography and GIScience

"When change is happening very rapidly, the past is no longer a guide to the future."

2524 Hydrosystems Laboratory

301 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana, IL 61801

(217) 333-2675
(217) 244-1675

Murugesu Sivapalan holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering (University of Ceylon, Sri Lanka 1975), M.Eng in Water Resources Engineering (Asian Institute of Technology Thailand 1977), and M.A. (1983) and Ph.D (1986) in Civil Engineering, with a major in hydrology, from Princeton University, New Jersey.

Between 1978 and 1981, Dr Sivapalan worked as a consulting civil engineer in Nigeria. During the period 1986-1988 he served as a Research Associate at Princeton University. He spent the next 17 years at the University of Western Australia, Perth, joining as a Lecturer and being promoted to full Professor in 1999. Dr Sivapalan has also served as Visiting Professor at the Vienna Technical University, Austria, the Delft Technical University, The Netherlands, the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. He joined the University of Illinois in 2005. Dr. Sivapalan has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in watershed hydrology, engineering hydrology, stochastic hydrology and water resources engineering. 

Prof. Sivapalan was the founding chair of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences’ (IAHS) prestigious Decade on Predictions in Ungauged Basins (PUB) initiative. He has been a member of the editorial boards of several international journals and was the Executive Editor of the European Geophysical Union’s Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) journal. 

Prof. Sivapalan has been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and Fellow of the International Water Academy. He is the recipient of the International Hydrology Prize from the International Associate of Hydrological Sciences, the Hydrological Sciences Award and the Robert E. Horton Medal of the American Geophysical Union, and the European Geosciences Union’s John Dalton Medal. He has been awarded the Centenary Medal by the Australian Government “for service to Australian Society in Hydrology and Environmental Engineering”, and an Honorary Doctorate from the Delft Technical University in the Netherlands in recognition of his contributions to hydrology and water resources systems research.

Research Overview: 

Dr. Sivapalan's research has focused on making predictions in ungauged basins, increasingly in the context of human-induced environmental changes. A basic aim of his research has been to understand observed space-time variability of rainfall-runoff processes at a wide range of scales, including their extremes, and to interpret these in terms of underlying climate-soil-vegetation-topography interactions. Increased focus on hydrologic change has led him to launch the new sub-field of socio-hydrology that aims to explore the dynamic feedbacks between social and hydrological systems lying at the heart of the many critically important water management challenges. Dr Sivapalan is especially keen towards ensuring that advances in predictions based on socio-hydrologic understanding are used to address acute water management challenges in developing countries where resources are scarce and social and environmental vulnerabilities are intertwined. He has led major efforts towards developing an international network of scientists to address critical water management challenges in the emergent Anthropocene.