ASCE has honored Ximing Cai, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, with the 2023 Julian Hinds Award for leadership advancing a holistic vision and a comprehensive approach that integrates scientific advances, hydrologic science, and cutting-edge technologies to water resources planning and management with social objectives, economic concerns, and community involvement.

Ximing is a Ben Yen endowed professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbanna-Champaign. He has done seminal research that contributes to both scientific understanding of complex water resources systems and solution development for various other problems. His research has been especially critical for bridging advances in hydrologic sciences and economics for water resources planning and management. 

He is one of the pioneers in integrating economic principles, hydrologic processes, and engineering operations in water resources systems modeling for reservoir operation, riven basin management, and global water-food strategic development. He and his group have developed analytical reservoir operation models by embracing hydrologic variability and microeconomic principles in optimal reservoir operation analysis. Being distinguishable from traditional numerical modeling of reservoir operations, the analytical models provide generic insights and key knowledge regarding when, how much, and how long to reserve water to mitigate future water shortages.

In addition, Ximing has led the research on using data techniques to improve reservoir operation modeling – e.g., recently his group published a generic data-driven reservoir operation model for 450+ reservoirs in the contiguous United States. His efforts have helped bring up holistic river basin modeling as a school of thought, highlighting the coordination of economic efficiency, hydrologic variability, engineering, and policies in developing realistic solutions for river basin management problems.

The Julian Hinds Award is given to recognize the author or authors of that paper that is judged to make the most meritorious contribution to the field of water resources development. The award may also be made to an individual for notable performance, long years of distinguished service, or specific actions that advanced engineering in the field of planning, development, and management of water resources.