Growing up in the “Midwest” of Greece on my family farm, I was exposed to the diverse landscapes of my homeland from mountains and gravel bed rivers to the fertile valleys and the sea coast. However, I also witnessed first-hand the different interactions that we humans must have with our environment to sustain our livelihood. All these sights have shaped who I am as a researcher and a teacher.

First off, I received my Diploma in Engineering (five year degree) from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece (1990). Afterwards, I briefly worked as a Field Engineer for the Themeliodomi Engineering Company in Greece, where my primary responsibilities involved working with wastewater treatment.

Thanos Papanicolaou

Thanos Papanicolaou

I then made the long journey to the US, where I obtained my MSc and PhD degrees from Virginia Tech (1993 and 1997). My PhD work entitled “The role of turbulence on the initiation of sediment motion” shed light on the problem of incipient motion of sediment particles.

After graduating from Virginia Tech, I received a faculty appointment with the Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Engineering at Washington State University (WSU). From there I was able to expand my research from the more traditional studies of flow and sediment transport to topics focusing on landscape processes, hydraulic infrastructure, and instrumentation.

In 2003, I joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and IIHR – Hydroscience & Engineering team at the University of Iowa (UI), where I continued to investigate a wide range of hydraulic and environmental issues. I have published more than 110 peer-reviewed articles in over 40 plus different discipline journals, as well as over 400 reports and conference proceedings. In 2013, I joined the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK), where I have established the Hydraulics and Sedimentation Lab (HSL) and foster research on water availability along with research on Critical Zone and components of the Food Water and Energy nexus.

Over my tenure at WSU, UI, and UTK, I have taught several undergraduate and graduate level courses on soil mechanics, fluid mechanics, river mechanics, alluvial channel hydraulics, open channel flow, fate and transport of contaminated sediment, watershed and sedimentation dynamics. I believe that students must have a working knowledge of the fundamental principles behind the processes that shape our world today. Using these fundamentals, students can solve any real world problems they face. To demonstrate this fact, I implement the wealth of knowledge I gained from my studies and my time as a research engineer. Many of my students have gone on to receive faculty positions, as well as work in governmental agenices and consulting firms, both here and overseas.

Since then, Thanos Papanicolaou has worked with more than 500 collaborators worldwide, produced with his team more than 600 plus publications, and has given more than 400 presentations and keynote talks. He is currently the senior advisor and engineer with the Northwest Hydraulics Consultants leading large scale projects, watershed research, and development. Thanos has partnered with industry to develop advanced sensors for flow and soil/sediment movement as well as scour/erosion detection as well as to transfer hydropedologic knowledge and soil quality to precision agriculture and RACA. He has received more than $35 M of project funding from several federal and state agencies including USDA, DOE, NRCS, NSF, NAS, USGS, DoD, ONR and private sector and foundations.

Finally, I have an active service record where I am currently serving as member of the ASCI/EWRI Hydraulics and Waterways Council, as well as a member of the ASCE Sedimentation Committee. I am a member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). I am a past Editor in Chief of the Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, ASCE. I have also served as an Associate Editor for Water Resources Research, and International Journal of Sediment Research. Previous editorial duties have included the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation and the Journal of Hydrologic Engineering, as well as a Co-Editor of special issues and monographs, including the ASCE Monograph on Dam Removal. I am also a member of several professional societies (American Geophysical Union, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Water Resources Association, Soil and Water Conservation Society, International Commission on Large Dams, International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers) and have served as a consultant to the Bonneville Power Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (Hudson River Study), and the United States Army Corps of Engineers-Engineer Research and Development Center.