Wolman to be Honored during American Geophysical Union Meeting
A highlight of the tribute will be a field trip on Saturday, June 3, to Brandywine Creek, Pa., where Dr. Wolman conducted extensive research in the 1950s for his doctoral dissertation on the workings of rivers (including the rates and processes of floodplain formation and the measurement of flow resistance in rivers), a broad area of study known as fluvial geomorphology.
"That small Pennsylvania watershed that he studied to formulate his ideas and theories became known throughout the world as the gauge against which the processes of all other streams and rivers were measured," said John Costa, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a former student of Dr. Wolman's. "It would be difficult to overstate the scientific, technical and philosophical contributions of Reds to the profession of geography and geology."
A daylong special session of the AGU meeting honoring Dr. Wolman's career will take place Friday, June 2, and will consist of presentations and research papers on a variety of topics of interest to Dr. Wolman, such as stream restoration, pollution transfer and the effects of land-use on watersheds. In addition, a Human Geography Symposium in his honor, coordinated by Hopkins professor of geography David Harvey, will be held on Sunday, June 4, on the Homewood campus.
Peter Wilcock, associate professor of geography and environmental engineering at Hopkins, said Dr. Wolman's research interests and enthusiasm for teaching have endeared him to generations of students and colleagues.
"He's an innovative, world-class scientist, who has made lasting contributions to a remarkably wide range of subjects," said Dr. Wilcock. "Just as important, though, is the genuine and active interest he takes in all those he encounters, including students, colleagues and visitors."
Dr. Wolman, a native of Baltimore, earned a bachelor of arts degree in geology from Johns Hopkins in 1949, then master's and doctoral degrees in geology from Harvard University. He began his career as a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey before returning to Johns Hopkins. He chaired the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering from 1970 to 1990. His father, Abel Wolman, a legendary figure in the fields of water research and sanitary engineering, worked alongside Dr. Wolman as a professor emeritus in the department until his death, at age 96, in 1989.
Dr. Wolman, who twice has served as acting provost of the university, has published numerous articles and papers on his research, and is the co-author of two books, including Fluvial Processes in Geomorphology (1964). It is considered among the most insightful and scholarly contributions to the field ever written and remains a landmark in modern geoscience development.
He has won numerous awards, and was elected in 1988 to the National Academy of Sciences. He is a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is past president of the Geological Society of America.
Dr. Wolman has served in numerous capacities for professional and community organizations, and is currently serving on the National Research Council, the consultative arm of the National Academy of Sciences. He is a board member of the Maryland Academy of Sciences, and past chairman of the board of Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and The Park School in Baltimore.
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