The 2017 Ralph Alger Bagnold Medal is awarded to Ellen Wohl for shaping our thinking on how river systems evolve and function, on the importance of legacy sediments and riverine carbon fluxes.
Over the past 20 years, Ellen Wohl has provided unique insights into the functioning of rivers, especially bedrock channels, the importance of legacy sediments, as well as riverine carbon fluxes and, in particular, the role of woody debris. Additionally, Wohl has translated the scientific understanding into management practice—to a greater extent than practically any other academic geomorphologist. Her work almost singlehandedly transformed river restoration, to incorporate scientific rigorous process-based understanding and applied integrative approaches. Wohl clearly established herself as a leader in Fluvial Geomorphology, covering river systems in all climatic zones, from polar to tropical and from high-elevation mountain settings to coastal lowlands. Wohl is a prolific writer with an outstanding publication record that includes journal articles in our field’s top Outlets. Furthermore, she has written or edited 10 books, including scientific monographs and key texts for higher education and river management practioners. Her achievements have already earned her recognition in the US (she is a Fellow of both GSA and AGU), with several awards including the highly prestigious Kirk Bryan Award of the GSA. Wohl is a pioneer, an innovator, and a great communicator who has published many landmark papers and books. Her research contributions, her commitment to training young researchers, and her dedication to finding applied solutions make her an ideal recipient of the Ralph Alger Bagnold Medal.