Steven C. Chapra, Ph.D., F.AEESP, Dist.M.ASCE, a professor in the civil and environmental engineering department at Tufts University, where he also holds the Louis Berger chair, has been honored with inclusion by ASCE in its 2022 class of distinguished members for a lifetime of achievements that have revolutionized the way engineers analyze and address water quality issues, revamped the pedagogy for educating generations of water quality professionals, and improved the health of our surface water bodies.
Chapra helped shape the newly emerging field of computer modeling of water quality in the 1970s and ’80s. His early work on lake management and eutrophication at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory and his two landmark books on lake modeling advanced the art, but also added real clarity, science, and mechanistic/systematic thinking to the field that in prior decades had been more art than science.
More recently, Chapra has been a leader in addressing the challenges of emerging pollutants such as pharmaceuticals and has developed integrated decision support systems that group climate, hydrology, and water quality for analysis across multiple scales, with applications that include the large-scale analysis of the impacts of climate change on the risks of harmful algal blooms across the continental United States. His case study applications include extensive work for the U.S. as well as all North America, Italy, New Zealand, South America, and Asia.
His contributions to research and engineering practice include the pioneering development of innovative modeling methods and software tools, the associated training to facilitate the application of state-of-the-art tools in engineering practice, and his own extensive work to address real-world engineering problems. Two of his models, QUAL2K and LAKE2K, are widely used in professional practices for wasteload allocations, in TDML determinations, and for water quality management by a variety of agencies and organizations.
Chapra is widely acknowledged as one of the foremost educators in the nation, as evidenced by his authorship of seven fundamental textbooks, including “Numerical Methods for Engineers,” which reaches a broad audience at hundreds of universities. He has received outstanding teaching awards at every university fortunate enough to have his services (Tufts, University of Colorado at Boulder, Texas A&M). His even broader academic contributions were recognized with the 1987 Meriam-Wiley Distinguished Author Award by ASEE and the inaugural AAESP Wiley Award for Outstanding Contributions to Environmental Engineering and Science Education. In 1993 he received ASCE’s Rudolph Hering Medal for the outstanding paper in the field of environmental engineering. His scholarship is diverse, and 26 of his papers appear in ASCE journals. Of note, four of his five “best paper” awards were published by the Society.
Chapra strives to apply his professional disciplines toward a high-quality environment in a sustainable and cost-efficient fashion, and to share this knowledge with a special focus on developing countries.
ASCE will honor the 2022 class of distinguished members during the ASCE 2022 Convention, Oct. 24, in Anaheim, California.