AgriLife scientist internationally honored for ‘SWAT’ project

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TEMPLE – Dr. Raghavan Srinivasan, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist and director of the Texas A&M University Spatial Science Laboratory, College Station, recently was given an honorary doctoral degree by Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, France.

Srinivasan received the prestigious Docteur Honoris Causa for his development of the “Soil and Water Assessment Tool,” commonly referred to as SWAT, an agro-hydrologic and water quality model used worldwide, according to Dr. Tom Gerik, resident director of the Texas A&M Blackland AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Temple.

Hydrologic water-quality models are used to determine the impacts that soil types and terrain, as well as such factors as land and agricultural crop use, have on watershed quality, Gerik explained.

“This principal analytical tool has appeared in more than 1,300 peer-reviewed publications. SWAT is used worldwide by an international, multidisciplinary community of scientists,” according to the official Paul Sabatier University press release. “It is the most widely used basin-scale hydrologic and water-quality model in the world.”

Gerik noted that universities only give honorary doctorates in recognition of extraordinary achievements.

“These things are not given lightly,” Gerik said. “They are only given to people who have made a significant impact. Dr. Srinivasan has spent many years working in hydrology, especially working as a team member with the computer modeling group here in Temple that developed the SWAT model. Being a hydrologist, and using the tool himself, and being from India, he had a real interest in developing the model internationally. He did that by forming collaborations around the world.”

Paul Sabatier University, through the government of France, gives such honors to only “a small number of researchers each year in recognition of outstanding scientific accomplishments,” according to the university release. Other researchers receiving the Paul Sabatier University award this year were Dr. Akira Sekiguchi of the University of Tsukuba in Japan and Dr. Ian Alexander Walmsley of Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

For the last five years Dr. Srinivasan has worked closely with the Laboratory of Functional Ecology and Environment at Paul Sabatier University, directed by Dr. José Miguel Sanchez Perez, who nominated Dr. Srinivasan for this award, according to Gerik.

“For us here at Temple it’s been really good, because we have people around the world using a model that was developed here, and are continuing to be developed here,” Gerik said. “And more importantly, we now have people around the world who are helping further develop this model.”

After receiving his master’s degree at the Asian Institute of Technology in 1989, Srinivasan earned his doctorate at Purdue University in 1992. That same year, he joined AgriLife Research as a post-doctoral research associate. He was promoted to associate professor and director of the Spatial Sciences Laboratory in 1999 and promoted to full professor in 2004, according to Gerik.

Srinivasan has received numerous awards, including: the American Society of Agronomy Extension Education Materials Award in 2008; Scientist of the Year by the Texas A&M department of biological and agricultural engineering in 2010; Senior Scientist at the Texas A&M University Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture in 2011; and the 2012 Norman Hudson Memorial Award for contributions to soil conservation from the World Association of Soil and Water Conservation.


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