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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

SU professor to chair national Water Sciences & Technology Board

A significant honor for Donald Siegel and Syracuse University

May 3, 2010, by Rob Enslin

Donald I. Siegel, a Meredith Professor in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, has been appointed chair of the Water Sciences & Technology Board. The nationally renowned scientist, whose research encompasses contaminant hydrology, paleohydrogeology and wetland hyrdology, will serve a three-year term beginning in July.

The board was established in 1982 by the National Research Council (NRC) to provide a focal point for studies related to water resources accomplished under the aegis of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering.

“This is a significant honor for Don and for Syracuse University,” says James T. Spencer, a fellow Meredith Professor who doubles as The College’s associate dean for science, mathematics and research. “The board is composed of experts from around the country who address issues and research topics of vital national concern. Don’s leadership and expertise, especially in hydrogeochemistry, serves the organization well.”

Since joining The College’s earth sciences faculty in 1982, Siegel has established himself as a formidable presence in and out of the classroom. He has done considerable research on watersheds in the United States and China, relying on wetland geochemistry (the study of chemical compositions of water, rocks, and soils) and hydrogeology (the study of the distribution and movement of groundwater in rocks and soils). Additionally, he is an expert in groundwater law and hydrology. “Effective problem solving and management require an understanding of the legal principles and physical characteristics of groundwater,” adds Spencer. “Don has examined problem-solving approaches that have been utilized nationwide to address groundwater allocation and quality problems, including management plans, physical solutions and court adjudication.”

A lifetime associate member of the NRC, Siegel has served on 10 of its water-related committees, two of which he has chaired; since last year, he has led the Committee on Preparing for the Third Decade of the National Water Quality Assessment Program.

Siegel is an award-winning teacher and mentor, as evidenced by his receipt of the Wasserstrom Prize for the Teaching of Graduate Students and by his recent involvement with Spencer in the “Pulse of the Planet’s” Kid’s Science Challenge. A talented cook, Siegel is author of the best-selling “From Lokshen to Lo Mein: The Jewish Love Affair With Chinese Food” (Geffen Publishing House, 2005).

The board covers all dimensions of water resources, including science, engineering, economics, policy, educational issues and social aspects. Its 16 members respond to requests for evaluations and advice concerning specific and generic issues in water resources, influence action by initiating studies of issues that merit consideration by public agencies and others, identify issues and topics of research related to water resources, and cooperate with other units of the NRC. Through workshops, symposia, and other meetings, the board serves as a hub for exchange among policy makers, members of industry, scientists and the general public to discuss timely issues.