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In Memoriam of Dr. Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe, 1942 to 2022
Dr. Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe was known for his passion and dedication to teaching and wanted all new generations of engineers to “have fun.” He leaves a legacy as a global leader in ecohydrology – a field to which he contributed some of the most valuable research. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Dr. Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe, University Distinguished Professor and professor emeritus in the Department of Ocean Engineering at Texas A&M University, passed away Wednesday, Sep. 28, in his home country of Venezuela. He was 80 years old.

Rodriguez-Iturbe led a fulfilling 50-year career and became a globally recognized leader in ecohydrology — a field to which he contributed some of the most important research in the rapidly growing field.

He served in many roles during his career, both at Texas A&M and elsewhere. He began at his alma mater, the University of Zulia in Venezuela, and later served and taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Simón Bolívar University in Caracas, Venezuela; the University of Iowa; Princeton University and Texas A&M.

Dr. Rodriguez-Iturbe was an extraordinary individual. Despite his exceptional academic and professional success, he remained very humble and helped everyone around him. This is a great loss to the department and the university. I will truly miss him.

Dr. Sharath Girimaji, department head of ocean engineering

Rodriguez-Iturbe was a member of the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering, and a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2010, he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

During his career, he earned several notable awards, including the Bowie Medal of the American Geophysical Union and the Stockholm Water Prize from the Stockholm International Water Institute.

Rodriguez-Iturbe was known for his passion and dedication to educating the next generation of leaders who shared his inquisitive nature of learning and understanding the world around them — most of all, he encouraged them to “have fun.”

He is survived by his wife, Mercedes, daughter Olympia and sons, Oscar, Ignacio, Luis and Juan Rodriguez. His son Juan currently serves as assistant director of advising services for the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas A&M.

Rodriguez-Iturbe received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Zulia in 1963. He continued his graduate studies at the California Institute of Technology, where he earned a Master of Science in 1965 and went on to earn a doctorate in civil engineering from Colorado State University in 1967.

Read more on Rodriguez-Iturbe’s career and the wisdom he shared in a 2020 College of Engineering news story.