Venkataraman “Venkat” Lakshmi, a civil and environmental engineering professor in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment at the University of Virginia, has been appointed to the NASA Earth Science Advisory Committee.

Lakshmi, whose career began at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is known for his expertise in hydrological sciences. He specializes in using data collected from space, aircraft and in situ systems along with hydrological and ecological models to make observations about the terrestrial water cycle and to better understand weather, climate and ecology.

The Earth Science Advisory Committee supports the director of the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters, providing advice and recommendations on earth science programs, policies, plans and priorities, to include informing decisions about the scope and implementation of programs. The committee also will provide a regular forum for broad discussion of earth science and the role of earth science within and outside of NASA.

Lakshmi’s expertise is especially relevant to the committee’s responsibilities, detailed on the committee web page:

“The scope of the ESAC includes the advancement of scientific knowledge of the Earth system through space-based observation and the pioneering use of these observations in conjunction with process studies, data assimilation and modeling to provide the Nation with improved capability to: predict climate variability, global change, and weather; mitigate and respond to natural hazards; and improve the scientific basis for policy decisions. In addition to observations and scientific research, the scope encompasses the development of computing and information management capabilities and other enabling technologies, including those with the potential to improve future operational satellite and ground systems.”

Lakshmi, who also serves on the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, said he is honored by the appointment to the NASA committee and ready to help improve policy in areas that can ultimately impact important issues such as climate change.

“I feel strongly that scientists have a responsibility to help form good public policy,” Lakshmi said. “The research my students and I do using sophisticated remote sensing, modeling and analysis provides invaluable insights into the forces affecting our weather and climate patterns and the water cycle. If we understand why things are happening, we can begin to figure how to manage our water resources better, especially in communities that tend to be most the harmed by the effects of climate change and weather extremes.”

Lakshmi is one of several civil and systems engineering faculty members in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment studying water resources using approaches that combine multiple disciplines of science and engineering. He is also part of a community of researchers in the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science and the UVA College of Arts & Sciences addressing environmental challenges, including the Link Lab and the pan-University Environmental Resilience Institute.