1999 Distinguished Service Award: Lynn Gelhar

// Civil & Environmental Engineering

Tags: alumni, CEE E-Day, Engineers' Day, Lynn Gelhar

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Lynn W. Gelhar
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Concord, MA
PhDCEE ’64, MSCEE ’60, BSCEE ’59

A teacher, researcher, author and engineering consultant, Lynn W. Gelhar is internationally recognized as an authority on groundwater hydrology. Gelhar, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is recognized for his pioneering research contributions in stochastic subsurface hydrology. This revolutionary stochastic perspective, which treats the complex spatial variability of the subsurface in a framework of mathematical statistics, has transformed groundwater hydrology from a mature, staid field into a vibrant, competitive one. Gelhar has not only contributed to stochastic theory, but has also been a leader in developing large-scale controlled field experiments designed to evaluate new theoretical results. He guided field investigations on Cape Cod; at Columbus, Mississippi; and near Las Cruces, New Mexico, producing uniquely comprehensive data sets, which continue to be used around the world. He authored the advanced textbook entitled Stochastic Subsurface Hydrology, and has authored over 140 research publications. He has served on many committees with professional organizations, including several National Academy of Science panels.

Over the past 35 years, Gelhar has taught a dozen different subjects, directed 30 doctoral and 35 master theses, and been involved in teaching numerous professional short courses.

Gelhar has extensive consulting experience on aspects of groundwater hydrology, dealing particularly with problems of groundwater re-mediation and radioactive waste disposal. He has served on several multidisciplinary review teams, including groups reviewing environmental aspects of the Hanford site in Washington, the WIPP radioactive waste disposal site in New Mexico, and the proposed Yucca Mountain radioactive waste disposal site in Nevada.

Prior to his position at MIT, Gelhar was a professor at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. He earned his BS, MS and PhD in civil engineering from UW-Madison.

Gelhar and his wife, Eleanor, live in Concord, Massachusetts, and Bremen, Maine. They have two children, Katherine and David. They enjoy the outdoors, including hiking and kayaking. Gelhar is an avid fly fisherman.