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Illinois scientist receives American Geophysical Union early-career award
 Kaiyu Guan

URBANA, Ill. – The American Geophysical Union today announced one of its 2018 Global Environmental Change Early Career awards will go to Kaiyu Guan, assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois. Guan is also a Blue Waters Professor at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at U of I.

The AGU gives this award annually in recognition of early-career scientists for outstanding contributions in research, educational, or societal impacts in the area of global environmental change, especially through interdisciplinary approaches.

Guan, an environmental scientist, says his research uses his expertise in geosciences and ecology along with satellite and supercomputing tools to address fundamental science questions, with the ultimate goal of providing solutions for real-life problems. He tackles grand challenges such as field-level crop monitoring and forecasting at continental scales, water management and sustainability, and global food security, using satellite data, computational models, field work, and machine-learning approaches.

”I am thrilled and humbled to have this early-career award. I am grateful and fortunate to be supported by all my mentors, collaborators, coworkers, and students,” Guan says.

“My mission is just getting started. I hope that in the future, my lab group and collaborators can advance science and engineering to the point where we can observe every crop field in real-time; monitor crop growth conditions, water demands, and nutrient needs; and achieve co-sustainability of the environment and food security for the U.S. Corn Belt and worldwide.”

Regarded as the largest scientific society in geosciences worldwide, AGU was established in 1919, and now has more than 60,000 members from more than 140 countries.

Murugesu Sivapalan, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at U of I, and Pierre Gentine, professor at Columbia University, co-nominated Guan.

“I have followed Dr. Guan’s career for close to 10 years from a distance and from up close,” Sivapalan says. “What strikes me most about him is his passion and energy, and clear intent. He has shown remarkable creativity and maturity, and a certain audacity to attempt to tackle humanity’s grand challenge of feeding a growing global population with the best that science and technology can deliver.”

University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen is a past president and current member of the AGU.

“I am thrilled to hear of the much-deserved AGU early-career award for Kaiyu,” Killeen says. “His work, utilizing an exciting array of experimental and theoretical techniques, will greatly enrich our understanding of the role of croplands in driving global environmental change.”

Guan will receive the award during the annual AGU meeting in Washington, D.C., this December.


Source: Jeff Brawn, 217-244-5937,

News writer: Lauren Quinn, 217-300-2435,

Date: July 30, 2018