National news release
van Genuchten's research
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ARS Scientist Awarded for computer Modeling
Research By Amy
February 13, 2002
RIVERSIDE, Calif., Feb. 13Martinus (Rien) T. van
Genuchten, a supervisory soil scientist with the
Agricultural Research Service, has won a
technology transfer award from the agency and will be honored in a ceremony
today at the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville
(Md.) Agricultural Research Center. ARS is the
U.S. Department of Agricultures chief
scientific research agency.
Soil and groundwater pollution is a growing worldwide problem
that the United States and other countries have spent billions of dollars
trying to solve. Over the past 25 years, computer models have become
increasingly important tools in this effort, thanks in large part to the work
of van Genuchten, a research leader at ARS
George E. Brown, Jr., Salinity
Laboratory in Riverside, Calif.
For much of his career, van Genuchten has been writing and
refining computer programs that can be used to analyze highly complex systems
involving water flow and contaminant transport beneath the soil surface.
Agricultural engineers using such programs can design irrigation and drainage
systems that provide optimal water to crops while minimizing the transport of
fertilizers and pesticides to groundwater.
Van Genuchtens first programs, developed in the mid-70s,
were useful for analyzing laboratory- and field-scale solute transport
problems. Unfortunately, the use of these and other programs was limited to
other scientists; soil and groundwater professionals and engineers did not have
access to them. He recognized the need to place his programs within a more
user- friendly context and, by the early 1990s, began working with university
and private industry collaborators to develop user-friendly software. The
result of this collaboration was HYDRUS, a state-of-the-art computer model with
applications for real-world use.
Van Genuchten was not only one of the lead authors of the HYDRUS
program, but also a key figure in developing a cooperative research and
development agreement (CRADA) between the George E. Brown, Jr., Salinity
Laboratory and the International Ground
Water Modeling Center of the Colorado
School of Mines to commercialize the Windows-based software.
Since its inception, some 6,000 copies of the HYDRUS program
have been distributed freely, while more than 550 copies of a user-enhanced
model have been sold as part of the CRADA.
HYDRUS software is now being used all over the world and is
considered the industry and academic standard not only for agricultural
situations, but also for municipal and industrial waste disposal problems and
other applications. Its adoption has resulted in improved water management in
many countries, a trend likely to continue since universities now use the
software in classes on subsurface flow and contaminant transport.
The Technology Transfer Award is being given this year to eight
individuals or teams who have done outstanding work in transferring ARS
technology to outside users. Van Genuchtens citation is for
outstanding initiative and creativity in developing and transferring worldwide
user-friendly computer software for addressing subsurface pollution
problems. ARS Acting Administrator Edward B. Knipling will present van
Genuchten with a cash award and a plaque at the Feb. 13 ceremony.
Van Genuchten has been employed by USDA since 1986, but he began
his work at the George E. Brown, Jr., Salinity Laboratory eight years earlier,
in 1978. He received both bachelors and masters of science degrees
in irrigation and drainage from Agricultural University in
Wageningen, The Netherlands, in 1968 and 1971, respectively. He received
his doctorate in soil physics from New Mexico
State University in 1975. Van Genuchten and his family live in Moreno