5 November 2019

Pioneering research into hydrological extremes

Niko Wanders wins KNAW Early Career Award

Physical geographer Dr. Niko Wanders has won a KNAW Early Career Award. The prize is intended for young researchers who are able to further develop innovative and original research ideas. Wanders receives the award for his pioneering research into hydrological extremes and his prominent role in science communication.

Niko Wanders is an assistant professor in hydrological extremes at Utrecht University. He studies the interaction between extreme drought or precipitation, climate change and human water use. In 2017 he received an NWO-Veni to investigate the impacts of human reservoir management on drought in large-scale river basins. The jury of the KNAW Early Career Award praises his "groundbreaking research" into the predictions of large-scale flooding and drought. For his research into the predictability of floods and droughts, he won the NWO's Vening Meinesz Award last year.

Wanders is also well positioned in the international arena. With his Rubicon scholarship he worked for two years as a postdoc at Princeton University, where he still is a visiting researcher. He is also a member of the Utrecht Young Academy.

Dr. ir. Niko Wanders
Niko Wanders

Great honour

Niko Wanders is delighted to win the Early Career Award. “It's a great honour to receive this award,” he says. “I'm very interested in unravelling the impact of floods, drought and climate change on society. Therefore, I'm pleased that this award acknowledges the relevance of this work.”

Prominent role in science communication

The jury of the Early Career Award also mentions the prominent role that Wanders plays in science communication. He regularly featured in the media during the extremely dry summers of last and this year. This year he has appeared in the media about 25 times, including the NOS, EditieNL, NPO Radio 1 and the KidsWeek. For his contribution to science communication he also received the UU-Publi Prize in January, together with Dr. Erik van Sebille.

In this short video Niko Wanders explains what drought is and what can be done about it.

Policy advice

In addition to communicating with the media, Wanders also communicates with policymakers and the general public. He initiates and organises the Dutch Drought Network, which informs citizens about fundamental and applied research on drought and gives advice on policy measures.

Early Career Award

Of the three winners in the field of nature and technical sciences, another winner comes from Utrecht University in addition to Niko Wanders: Dong Nguyen, assistant professor in computer science. The KNAW Early Career Award consists of a sum of 15,000 euros and an art object. The presentation will take place during a festive meeting on 4 February 2020 in the Trippenhuis in Amsterdam.