M. Levent Kavvas, Ph.D., Dist.M.ASCE, long at the forefront of research in hydrology and an advancer of the theoretical and practical aspects of hydrologic engineering and science, has been honored by ASCE with inclusion in its 2019 class of Distinguished Members for his pioneering contributions to the estimation of maximum precipitation, to the modeling of coupled atmospheric-hydrologic processes at regional and watershed scales, to the process-based, spatially distributed modeling of watershed hydrologic processes, to the physically-based stochastic modeling of hydrologic processes in terms of their governing equations as stochastic partial differential equations, and to the scaling theory of hydrologic processes.
Kavvas’ research has focused on hydrology and water resources, with particular emphasis on (1) modeling of watershed hydrology and environmental processes, (2) physically-based stochastic modeling of hydrologic processes in terms of their governing equations as stochastic partial differential equations, (3) mathematical modeling for short-term and long-term predictions of hydro-meteorological processes, and (4) development of regional-scale (mesoscale) hydro-climate models of integrated hydrologic-atmospheric processes at global, continental, country, and watershed scales for the simulation and prediction of hydrologic water balances and hydrologic and atmospheric extremes toward quantifying floods and droughts.
Based on upscaled conservation equations, he developed a process-based, distributed watershed hydrology model, WEHY, that is capable of incorporating the effect of heterogeneity within natural watersheds. This model has been applied to watersheds of all sizes throughout the world, including the United States, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, and elsewhere.
Kavvas is a Distinguished Professor of Water Resources Engineering at the University of California, Davis, and director of UCD’s Hydrologic Research Laboratory and J. Amorocho Hydraulics Laboratory. He has taught courses for graduates and undergraduates in hydrology, hydraulics, and stochastic modeling at both UCD and the University of Kentucky, and has advised many Ph.D. and M.S. students who currently occupy leadership positions nationally and abroad.
He was the founding editor-in-chief of the ASCE Journal of Hydrologic Engineering (JHE). He has enjoyed considerable influence as an author, as well, significantly adding to the professional literature. This includes over 280 papers in surface and groundwater hydrology and hydrometeorology. He also edited the IAHS book New Directions for Surface Water Modeling and coauthored the Earth System Science Encyclopedia.
In 2016 Kavvas won the JHE’s Best Paper Award. Also from ASCE that year came the J.J.R. Croes Medal. He was given the International Award from the Japan Society of Hydrology and Water Resources in 2015, and the Advisory Committee Climate Services Award from California Department of Water Resources in 2014. Other ASCE awards include the Ven Te Chow Award, Arid Lands Hydraulic Engineering Award, ASCE/EWRI Best Paper Award (2006), and the Richard R. Torrens Award.
In addition to ASCE, Kavvas is a member of AGU, AIH, IAHS, EGS, and from 2012 to 2015 the California Climate Change Advisory Board. For years he was on the Steering Group on Water and Climate Change for the Asia-Pacific Water Forum and the UNESCO Expert Group on Climate Change and Water. He has served on the editorial or editorial advisory boards of several of the most reputable journals.
He was a university fellow at Purdue University, in addition to being a Fulbright Scholar at both Purdue and Colorado State University.