Earth and Planetary Science
EPS Near-Surface Geochemistry and Geobiology

"Bill Dietrich was elected to the ""National Academy of Sciences"" and the ""American Academy of Arts and Sciences""."

Monday, September 1, 2003
Professor Emeritus Luna Leopold transfers his NAS pin to Bill Dietrich during a recent celebration of Bill

Bill Dietrich grew up in Marin County, across the Bay from Berkeley. He fondly recalls sliding down the grassy hillsides near his boyhood home on cardboard boxes -- a pasttime still practiced today by Marin County boys of a certain age. Years later he returned to those same hillslopes, as objectives of focused scientific study. Since he joined the Berkeley faculty in 1981, Dietrich's research group has focused on the study of hillslope and fluvial geomorphology, and specifically on the search for geomorphic transport laws -- the fundamental governing equations for the evolution of the Earth's surface. How does the rate of downslope creep of soil depend on the shape of the hillslope or the thickness of the soil mantle? What controls the rate that rivers can cut into the bedrock beneath them? How do landslides and debris flows shape the evolution of hillslopes through time, and control the delivery of sediment to the streams that drain them? Dietrich's research group has explored these kinds of fundamental questions in landform evolution, using a combination of field research, remote sensing data, laboratory analyses, and computer modeling.
Dietrich has supervised roughly 20 Ph.D. students, and is the author of over 100 scientific publications. His work has been recognized by the Gordon Warwick Award of the British Geomorphological Research Group (in 1986), the Horton Award of the American Geophysical Union, (in 1995), and election as a Fellow of the Amercan Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America (both in 1992). He collaborates with many colleagues around the world and here at Berkeley, including his wife, Berkeley ecologist Mary Power.