Professor Jose Salas receives Norman Medal from civil engineering society


Jose Salas, emeritus professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has received the Norman Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The medal was jointly awarded to Jayantha Obeysekera, chief modeler at the South Florida Water Management District, who received a Ph.D. in civil engineering from CSU in 1982.

medal ceremony
Professor Jose Salas and Jayantha Obeysekera receive the Norman Medal. From left: ASCE President R.D. Stevens, Jayantha Obeysekera, Jose Salas and ASCE Executive Director T.W. Smith.

Salas and Obeysekera were honored for their paper, “Revisiting the Concepts of Return Period and Risk for Nonstationary Hydrologic Extreme Events,” published in the ASCE’s Journal of Hydrologic Engineering and its specialty organization, the Environmental and Water Resources Institute. The highest honor granted by ASCE for a technical paper, the Norman Medal “recognizes a paper that makes a contribution to either practical or research aspects of engineering disciplines.”

Hydrology and water resources

Over his 40-year career, Salas and his graduate students and collaborators have made significant contributions to diverse areas of hydrology and water resources research.

He has developed stochastic techniques and models of hydroclimatic processes such as precipitation and streamflow; analysis and modeling of complex river systems; aggregation and disaggregation of hydrologic data; non-parametric methods for streamflow simulation, spatial analysis for regionalizing precipitation and infiltration; neural networks for drought identification and agricultural crop yield assessment; methods for modeling and simulating intermittent hydrological processes in arid basin; and analysis and modeling of extreme events such as floods and droughts.

Notably, Salas and colleagues have used some of these techniques to better understand flow variability in the Colorado River, the Nile River and the Great Lakes Basins.

Shared honored with students, colleagues

The honored paper presents new research on natural and human-caused hydrologic events. Salas called the Norman Medal the award about which he is “undoubtedly most proud.”

A native of Perú, Salas earned both his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from CSU, and has been a member of the College of Engineering faculty since 1976. During his time at CSU, he has mentored 42 master’s and 37 Ph.D. students. Said Salas about the Norman Medal, “the honor received is also an honor for all my students and collaborators.”