headshot of Balaji

Rajagopalan Balaji, Ph.D., F.ASCE, a professor of civil engineering and Fellow of the Cooperative Institute of Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, has been named a fellow by the ASCE Board of Direction.

He has been on the faculty at CU since 2000. Prior to joining the university he was on the research faculty at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, in New York, from 1995 to 2000. He served as the chair of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, 2014-2022. 

Balaji’s specialization is hydroclimate variability and impacts on socio-economic infrastructure using statistical learning methods. His research is interdisciplinary, which focuses on understanding the drivers of year-to-year and multidecadal variability of regional hydrology (i.e., precipitation, streamflow, etc.), developing ensemble forecasting and coupling them to decision support systems for water resources management, drinking water quality, wastewater treatment resiliency, building systems energy, construction delay management due to weather and climate, and agriculture management. 

His research has proven to be of immense value in the operations, management, and planning of water resources in the semi-arid river basins of the Western United States, especially the Colorado River System. For this he was a co-recipient of the Partners In Conservation Award from the Department of Interior in 2009. In addition, he has made significant contributions to understanding the Indian summer monsoonal climate variability and predictability on modern to paleo-time scales. For his joint work on unraveling the mystery of Indian summer monsoon droughts that appeared in Science in 2006 he was a co-recipient of the prestigious Norber Gerbier Mumm Award from the World Meteorological Organization in 2009. He was elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2018, and in 2023 he was awarded the Fulbright-Kalam fellowship for climate research.

Balaji’s diverse educational background (engineering, optimization, stochastic methods, hydroclimate) and research experience has facilitated the development of a robust interdisciplinary research program, which is reflected in his extensive publication record, including several in ASCE journals. He has taught courses in hydraulics, hydrology, water resources systems, civil engineering design, hydroclimatology, and statistical methods. He has advised and mentored several Ph.D and M.S. students who are now in the public sector, in large civil and water resources companies, and in academia.

He has served as associated editor of ASCE’s Journal of Hydrologic Engineering and Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management and of the Geophysical Research Letters, and currently serves as an associate editor of Advances in Water Resources and Climate Research.

Balaji earned a bachelor of technology degree in civil engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra, India, a master of technology degree in optimization and reliability engineering from the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, and a doctoral degree in civil and environmental engineering from Utah State University, in Logan, Utah.