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Dr. Andrea Rinaldo
The Stockholm International Water Institute selected Hagler Fellow Dr. Andrea Rinaldo as a laureate of the “Nobel Prize of water." | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), in cooperation with the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, announced Texas A&M University Hagler Fellow Dr. Andrea Rinaldo as the 2023 laureate of the Stockholm Water Prize — often regarded as the Nobel Prize of water.

The Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee selected Rinaldo’s nomination for his achievements and groundbreaking work in the fields of hydrology, hydrogeomorphology and epidemiology.

“In his research, he has shown the key connections between river networks and the spread of solutes, aquatic species, and diseases,” said the Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee.

In his acceptance speech to SIWI, Rinaldo said the honor was emotional for him as he is now among other distinguished laureates, including his late friend and colleague, Dr. Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe, Texas A&M University Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

“I am humbled and very proud of following in their footsteps, and I am grateful to the Stockholm International Water Institute and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences,” Rinaldo said.

Rinaldo’s interest in the ways of water emerged from having dealt with flooding as a young boy growing up in Venice, Italy — a city threatened by flooding from storm surges and rising sea levels. He was 12 years old when the Great Flood of 1966 occurred in Venice, which flooded the entire city and cost billions of dollars in damages.

After the water receded, Rinaldo started to wonder if his hometown, which was vulnerable to the water, would survive.

“[Venice’s] relationship to the water was obvious. It was very clear then that the entire relationship between the city, the built and natural environments and the waters that were foundational to my hometown would have to be rethought completely,” Rinaldo said.

Through this experience, Rinaldo has gone on to make impactful contributions to the world’s understanding of how water shapes the earth’s surfaces and ecosystems. His research has made it possible to further explore and understand how to combat water pollution, contamination and water-borne diseases and protect biodiversity.

After being nominated, laureate candidates are reviewed by the Nominating Committee, which creates a shortlist of three candidates to present to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for further review. The final decision is made by the SIWI Board.

Rinaldo is an affiliated faculty in the Department of Ocean Engineering at Texas A&M. He is also a professor of hydrology and water resources and director of the Laboratory of Ecohydrology at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

He was a member of the 2018-19 cohort of Hagler Fellows through the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study at Texas A&M. Fellows are selected by the Hagler Institute to be recognized as distinguished scholars in their fields through outstanding professional accomplishments or significant recognition.

For Rinaldo’s full acceptance speech, you can watch the announcement on the SIWI YouTube channel.