Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Recipients of the 2013 Excellence in Leadership Award and the Early Career Excellence in Leadership Award

Hydroacoustics Working Group (HaWG)
Julie Kiang

In recognition of their outstanding acts, services, and achievements that exemplify and support the USGS leadership goals throughout the Bureau.

Honor awards will be presented at the next U.S. Geological Survey’s Honor Awards Ceremony in Reston, Virginia.

Excellence in Leadership Award

Citation for 2013 USGS Excellence in Leadership Award

HaWG Awardees:

  David S. Mueller, Team Lead
  Kevin Oberg, Team Lead
  Kirk Thibodeaux

Northeast Region:
  Brandy Armstrong
  Liz Hittle
  Marinna Martini
  Nick Stasulis

Southeast Region:
  Sonny Anderson

  Jason McVay
  Mike Rehmel

  Jeff East

Northwest Region:
  Molly Wood

For the USGS Office of Surface Water, the ability to measure stream flow day in, day out in multiple locations, many remote, has been the bread and butter of water science. Acting Director Suzette Kimball, in her August 19th Monday Message pointed out: “The very first thing Chairman Simpson mentioned was our streamgage network and how important streamgages are to his colleagues.”

The past 20 years has seen a revolution in the technology available to make such measurements. The USGS has been the leader in setting standards for making these measurements. Google “Price AA current meter,” the mechanical current meter that was the workhorse of measurements in the last century, and you get “USGS TYPE AA MODEL 6200”. With the turn of the 21st century came acoustic Doppler technology, a sort of radar for the ocean, which would transform how stream flow measurements are made.

This transformation is due to the leadership and technical skill of Kevin Oberg and Dave Mueller and the Hydroacoustics Working Group (HaWG). When acoustics came on the scene, the USGS was faced with a great opportunity, but also a huge problem. Acoustic methods could be very efficient in the field, promising to get a much better picture of the cross section stream flow, allow better response to floods, just to start. But to change decades-old, established methodologies that were the basis of long standing ratings and techniques, to do this in an organized way across districts in 50 states with very different needs, and to iron out technical issues with manufacturers, was a huge challenge. Oberg, Mueller, and the HaWG’s influence in this change are a perfect example of USGS leadership principles.

Oberg, Mueller and the HaWG worked with everyone to establish the reliability of the new acoustic techniques so that the use of acoustics became standard practice, and they did so with great speed. Collaborations were formed with academia, USGS districts, other countries’ water agencies and equipment vendors to accomplish the extensive and time consuming testing that would demonstrate the feasibility of acoustic techniques; hundreds of technicians were trained in the new methods and encouraged to submit data. Through the USGS’ review process, constant vigilance about the resulting quality of USGS data was, and still is, maintained during this technological transition. In 1995, 1% of stream flow measurements were made by acoustic methods. In 2010 it was 75%. This was not due the USGS Office of Surface Water requiring districts to adopt new measurement techniques, but rather because the HaWG persuaded people it was a good idea to try, one person at a time and one district at a time. This influence on the course of USGS’ acoustic stream flow measurements, and indeed in stream flow measurements world-wide, continues to this day.

Many past USGS Excellence in Leadership Awards have been given to people already in very clear leadership positions, to Center Directors, District Chiefs and similar. Oberg, Mueller and the HaWG’s influence has been unique and effective as it has occurred behind the scenes, at much lower level. Modeled on the HaWG, a new effort has sprung up to do the same for sediment methods. Unless you are directly involved in water resources field measurements or read the WRD Instrument News, you probably would not have heard of them. I hope you will agree that this kind of long term influence in such a fundamental part of the USGS is an example of Excellence in Leadership.

Nominated by:
Robert Mason
Supervisory Hydrologist
Reston, Virginia


Excellence in Leadership Award


Citation for 2013 USGS Early Career Excellence in Leadership Award

Julie Kiang
Reston, Virginia

Julie Kiang is a confident leader who attracts partners and collaborators by sharing her skill, by exercising sound judgment and vision, by making commitments and meeting them, by being uniquely attentive to the ideas and goals of others, and by following through with suggestions from others and ideas of her own.

Julie was hired to manage the Water Resources Division climate change research program in 2005, but from the very beginning she demonstrated extraordinary intelligence, collaborative skill, and leadership ability that have strengthened USGS and DOI climate change science. In addition, Julie’s leadership has resulted in benefits to USGS activities in streamflow monitoring, statistical hydrology, and water availability, management, and planning.

Julie makes the best use of opportunity. She was an original convener for the USGS – US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – US Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) workgroup on climate change impacts on water resources management and a lead author of the resulting report, USGS Circular 1331, "Climate change and water resources management: a federal perspective”. Building on that work, Julie was an organizer of the joint USGS-USACE-BOR workshop on nonstationarity and flood frequency analysis. Reaching still higher, Julie worked with each speaker to compile and publish the resulting proceedings as a guest associate editor for The Journal of the American Water Resources Association –creating a special edition of the Journal entitled “Nonstationarity in Water Resources” that was well received and widely cited.

Julie sees how science fits into the global picture. One of the major issues facing the USGS pertains to the characterization of the quality of our streamflow records. Early on, Julie took the lead in dealing with uncertainty in streamflow measurements. She led a team to develop a useful and practical algorithm, conducted appropriate tests, and authored an article for the Journal of Hydraulics that was recently published and is now the basis for measurement uncertainty calculations for sectional streamflow techniques in the USGS and industry, and that is being incorporated into international standards. Related to this work, Julie conceived, drafted, and worked with staff from the Ministry of Water Resources in China to develop an annex for the USGS-MWR MOU. Julie has also regularly collaborates with researchers in Canada, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the World Metrological Organization on uncertainty issues. Understanding the limits of our data may lead to better data programs and better water solutions for a thirsty world.

Julie listens carefully and follows up on the suggestions and ideas of others, giving credit as due and encouragement as needed. She is the WaterCensus lead for the streamflow estimation and analysis project, coordinating a Nationally distributed team of scientists from across the USGS in developing a national implementation plan for estimating streamflow at ungaged locations.

Julie’s leadership shines brightest through her training and mentoring activities. Julie redesigned the Office of Surface Water’s statistical hydrology training class –a course that is now in continued high demand. She established and leads a monthly webinar on statistical hydrology that has proven to be a highly popular and helpful occasion for building a collaborative community in statistical hydrology. Julie also mentors young and experienced hydrologists throughout the Water Science Centers on an ongoing basis. She answers their questions and connects them to other experts on a near daily basis.

In short, Julie fits the very definition of a young, early-career leader. She has mastered her scientific field, and leads in the further development of the field. Julie utilizes her knowledge and people-oriented skills to recruit, lead, and support others in addressing issues of importance to the Nation. She merits the full recognition that this award would convey and would serve as an outstanding example of leadership in the USGS.

Nominated by:
Robert Mason
Supervisory Hydrologist
Reston, Virginia

« Back to USGS Excellence in Leadership Award - Description Page