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 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.

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 Technical University of Vienna, Austria, and the Technical University of Delft, The Netherlands. 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. 

He is a member of the American Geophysical Union’s Surface Water Committee and the European Geophysical Society’s Catchment Hydrology Committee. Dr Sivapalan was the founding chair of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences’ (IAHS) Decade on Predictions in Ungauged Basins (PUB) initiative. He is a member of the editorial boards of several international journals and is the Executive Editor of the European Geophysical Union’s Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) journal.

Dr. Sivapalan has been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, a Fellow of the Modeling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand, and a Life Member of the International Water Academy. He is the recipient of the International Hydrology Prize from the International Associate of Hydrological Sciences, the Robert E. Horton Medal of the American Geophysical Union (2011), the European Geophysical Union’s John Dalton Medal, and the Biennial Medal (for Natural Systems) of the Modeling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand. He has been awarded the Centenary Medal by the Australian Government “for service to Australian Society in Hydrology and Environmental Engineering.”

Research Overview: 

Dr. Sivapalan's research focuses on making predictions in ungaged basins. A basic aim of his research is to understand observed space-time variabilities of runoff processes at all scales, including their extremes, and to interpret these in terms of the underlying climate-soil-vegetation-topography interactions, including human impacts. A further aim is to investigate the interactions between runoff processes, and chemical and biological processes, and to develop new process-based models capable of making predictions of both water quantity and quality in ungaged basins, subject to natural and human-induced changes to climate and the landscape.