Erich Hester, Associate Professor of Environmental and Water Resources, has been awarded the Alumni Teaching Excellence Award for 2023. He has been a faculty member in the department since 2009.

His research focuses on how hydrology, hydraulics, and water resources infrastructure affect flooding, surface water-groundwater interaction, water quality, and ecology in river systems. The goal of his research group is to advance process-based knowledge to allow better informed and more sustainable river restoration design, pollutant attenuation by natural processes, watershed planning, and hydropower generation.

One way he is doing that is through his yearlong appoint as a hydropower fellow for the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. His fellowship seeks to develop new low-impact hydropower, promote environmental sustainability, and support grid reliability. His fellowship is awarded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest international body of professional scientists in the world.

Hester also studied in Taiwan in 2017-2018 as a Fulbright Distinguished Senior Scholar to see if floodplain restoration could be applied in Taiwan to improve local water quality issues from emerging contaminants, particularly pharmaceuticals from hospitals and municipal wastewater. The Fulbright Distinguished Scholar Award program is designed for scholars who have more than seven years of experience to actively engage in a spirit of sharing knowledge between international citizens.

While his research and professional endeavors are noteworthy, he is accomplished as an advisor and educator as well, leading to his selection for the 2023 Alumni Teaching Excellence Award. His students commend his support and commitment their individual success. “He cared more about my success than his. I was always able to publish papers and make deadlines under his guidance,” said Seth Lotts, class of 2022. “His professional advice still helps to this day.”

Hester teaches a variety of courses including Water Resources Engineering Hydraulic Structures, and Surface Water-Groundwater Interaction.