David Tarboton

David Tarboton has been selected as the new director of USU’s Water Research Laboratory.

Utah State University announced David Tarboton as the new director of the Utah Water Research Laboratory. Tarboton will begin this position on July 1.

“The Water Research Lab is an exciting place, and we are doing great things,” Tarboton said. “I hope more people in the community can know about the great research coming out of our labs.”

The lab, located just below First Dam at the mouth of Logan Canyon is one of the largest research laboratories in the state and a leading institution for water research in the country. After a nationwide search, Tarboton, who has a background in civil and environmental engineering at USU, was chosen May 20 to replace Mac McKee, who is retiring after 20 years.

“I’m really excited and I am looking forward to a new challenge,” Tarboton said. “The lab is in really good shape, so it won’t be a challenge on that part as I want to continue the work being done and not interrupt that.”

Tarboton will be in charge of the approximately 200 faculty, staff and students at the lab.

Tarboton came to USU in 1990 and worked at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand before moving to Utah.

“I’ve managed quite a few large-resource projects, which has given me an understanding on how it is possible to work together across disciplines,” Tarboton said.

Tarboton was chosen in 2012 to lead a $4.5 million National Science Foundation-funded collaborative effort aimed at improving HydroShare, a web service where scientists can store and share hydrological data. Tarboton’s team secured another $4 million grant to continue developing HydroShare in 2017.

He has worked for decades as a water resources engineer and hydrologist, authored 80 research manuscripts, received dozens of accolades for research and has mentored 29 graduate students.

In a press release, Tarboton states, “The lab has a strong tradition of water and environmental research that is critical to the state of Utah, the nation and the world.”

Tarboton said he plans to continue the lab’s contribution as a “center for excellence for the generation of knowledge,” which he believes is needed to solve water problems and to develop new opportunities.

“I want to sustain our strengths and continue the interdisciplinary work that has made our lab so great,” Tarboton said.