BREAKING: University of Alabama receives largest external award in the school’s history

University Of Alabama, Bryant Denny Stadium
Another groundbreaking award for UA. (Jacob Blankenship/Bham Now)

In a historic moment on Wednesday, April 6, The University of Alabama (UA) received $360 million to fund research aimed at improving the nation’s ability to predict water-related hazards and effectively manage water resources. This marks the largest external award in the school’s history. Read on for more details.

Making history

The $360 million award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be administered over the next five years by the Alabama Water Institute (AWI). It recognizes UA’s commitment to make water a signature research topic and academic focus.

Thanks to the award, the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology (CIROH) has been established. CIROH is a collective of 28 academic institutions, nonprofit organizations and government and industry partners who are bringing together a powerful team of water researchers across North America.

Together, they will develop and deliver national hydrological analyses, forecast information, data, guidance and more to help predict water-related hazards and manage water resources.

“UA has the unique environment and expertise to lead the nation in high-level water research between 28 partners. Thanks to the Alabama Water Institute’s leadership in assembling a world-class team, the growing scientific expertise and collaborations in Alabama will continue to benefit the nation.

Additionally, NOAA’s efforts to create this innovative institute will, in turn, protect communities and promote wise investments across the nation through better water models, forecasts and predictions. This award is excellent news for Alabama and its findings will influence decisions made across the continent for years to come.”

US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

A national leader in water research

CIROH will collaborate with two federal organizations located on UA’s campus, NOAA’s National Water Center and the US Geological Survey Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility. They will work to create curriculum programs that prepare the next generation of water professionals.

The consortium, led by UA, supports NOAA’s vision of a water and weather-ready nation. CIROH will advance water research and promote collaboration across the scientific community through four broad research themes:

  • Application of social, economic and behavioral science to water resources prediction
  • Community water resources modeling
  • Hydroinformatics
  • Water resources prediction capabilities

“I am proud to be spearheading this unprecedented Cooperative Institute, which will not only create a consortium of institutions that will leverage their individual prowess to address today’s most pressing water issues but also usher UA forward in its status as an emerging and leading water research institution.”

Scott Rayder, Executive Director, Alabama Water Institute

Helping us stay weather aware

The University of Alabama in Huntsville is also one of the 14 schools in CIROH, playing an important role in the major national research effort.

Dr. Steven J. Burian, AWI director of science and professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, will serve as the executive director of CIROH.

“We now begin the real work of coproducing research with NOAA and other partners that will benefit society and provide learning opportunities for students for years to come. The research innovations delivered by the Cooperative Institute will improve forecasts of floods and droughts, increase efficiency of water resources management, protect water quality and empower stakeholders to make confident and timely decisions.”

Dr. Steven J. Burian, Director of Science, Alabama Water Institute

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Gabby Gervais
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