Faculty Profile

Marcelo H. Garcia

Civil and Environmental Engineering
 Marcelo H. Garcia
Marcelo H. Garcia
3122 Digital Computer Lab MC 250
1304 W. Springfield
Urbana Illinois 61801
(217) 244-4484

Administrative Titles

  • M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Endowed Chair in Civil Engineering
  • Director, Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory

Primary Research Area

  • Water Resources Engineering and Science


  • Ph.D. Civil Engineering University of Minnesota 1989
  • M.Sc. Civil Engineering University of Minnesota 1985
  • Ing. Dipl. Water Resources Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Argentina 1982


Marcelo H. García completed his undergraduate studies at the Universidad Nacional del Litoral in Santa Fe, Argentina, receiving a Diploma in Water Resources Engineering (1982) and doing research on the erosion of clays in the Parana River. His graduate education took place at St. Anthony Falls Hydraulic Laboratory, University of Minnesota, where he obtained an M.S.C.E. ('85) and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (1989).

He joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an assistant professor in January 1990, becoming a full professor in 2000. In 2001, he was invested as the first Chester and Helen Siess Endowed Professor of Civil Engineering and as Honorary Professor at his alma mater, Universidad Nacional del Litoral (UNL). Dr. García teaches an undergraduate course on Water Resources Engineering and Hydraulic Engineering. At the graduate level he teaches Environmental Hydrodynamics, Sediment Transport, River Mechanics, and Open-Channel Hydraulics.  Since 1997, he has served as the Director of the Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory.

Dr. García is also the Founding Director of the Centro Internacional de Grandes Rios (CIEGRi) at UNL, Santa Fe, Argentina. He served as editor of the International Journal of Hydraulic Research (IAHR) from 2001 to 2006. He was also Editor-in-Chief of the ASCE Manual of Engineering Practice 110 "Sedimentation Engineering," published by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 2008. In 2005, he was elected Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Engineering of Argentina. His honors and awards include: the Alvin G. Anderson Award from the University of Minnesota (1989), the University Scholar Award from the University of Illinois (2000), Honorary Member of Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Society (2004), the Karl Emil Hilgard Hydraulic Prize (1996, 1999), the Walter Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize (1998), the Hans Albert Einstein Award (2006), the Wesley Horner Award (2012) and the Hunter Rouse Hydraulic Engineering Award, all from ASCE. He was also recognized with the Arthur Thomas Ippen Award from the International Association of Hydro-Environmental Engineering and Research (IAHR) in Beijing, China, (2001) and with the IAGLR Chandler-Misener Award for most notable paper published in Journal of Great Lakes Research in 2011.The Panama Canal Authority recognized Dr. Garcia with National Award for Scientific Contributions to Science and Technology from SENCYT, Government of Panama (2012). The International L.G. Straub Award for Best Ph.D. Thesis in Hydraulics and Water Resources Engineering has been presented to four of his advisees: Dr. Yarko Nino (1995), Dr. Jeffrey Parsons (1998), Dr. Mariano Cantero (2007) and Dr. Jorge Abad (2008). Dr. García has supervised and supported the completion of 25 Ph.D. dissertations and 40 M.S. students. He has delivered the Distinguished Inaugural Lecture at Instituto Mexicano de Tecnologia del Agua, Cuernavaca, Mexico (2006), the Borland Distinguished Lecture in Hydraulics at Colorado State University (2008) and the Enrico Marchi Distinguished Lecture, Italian Association of Hydraulics, Florence, Italy (2012). He has been an invited professor at the University of Genoa, Italy (1993), the California Institute of Technology (1997), the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland (1999) and the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Spain (2000). He is a Distinguished Member of ASCE (2013).

Related to water problems in the State of Illinois, Dr. García has developed physical models of the Boneyard Creek, Urbana, to help in the solution of flooding problems. He re-designed low-head dams on the Chicago, Fox and Vermillion Rivers to reduce the number of drowning accidents, and designed canoe chutes for the same dams in order to increase the safe recreational use of Illinois Streams. He has also worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate navigation problems caused by sedimentation and vegetation in the Upper Mississippi River Basin as well as with the Chicago River Control Structures, controlling the diversion of water from Lake Michigan in Chicago.  He also served in the expert review board for the Fargo-Moorhead flood protection scheme. Since 2003, he has led a major effort to develop hydrologic and hydraulic models of the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) being built the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC). Together with his students he developed the first 3D hydrodynamic and water quality model of the Chicago River and associated waterways and unveiled the presence of density currents in the Chicago River during the winter months. Dr. García has also served as Co-Leader for the Sedimentation Studies Task Working Group for the St. Clair River, 2007-2010, International Great Lakes Commission (Canada-USA). 

Dr. García has worked as a consultant in numerous national and international projects, most recently in the development of flood protection schemes in Guayaquil, Ecuador; in the design of Side Elevated Aeration (SEPA) Stations to improve oxygen levels in the Rio Matanza-Riachuelo, Buenos Aires, Argentina; in sedimentation issues in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California; in reservoir sedimentation in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica; in oil spill and sediment transport modeling in the Kalamazoo River, Michigan; in flood protection and restoration in the Bogota River and La Mojana, Colombia; and in hydropower development in Argentina and Brazil.

Academic Positions

  • Distinguished Visiting professor, Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, Argentina, 2017-
  • Affiliate Professor, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, August 2016-
  • M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Endowed Chair in Civil Engineering, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois, August 2014-
  • Affiliate Professor, Department of Geology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, May 2006 - Present
  • Faculty Fellow, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, 2012-2014
  • Director, Centro Internacional de Estudios de Grandes Rios (CIEGRi), Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Argentina, Dec. 2001-Present
  • Honorary Professor, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Santa Fe, Argentina, Dec. 2001
  • Chester and Helen Siess Endowed Professor Civil Engineering, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois, April 2001 - 2014
  • Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois, August 2000 ￿ Present
  • Visiting Associate Professor, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland, July, 1999
  • Director, Hydrosystems Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Illinois, February 1997 - present

For more information

Major Consulting Activities

  • Expert Reviewer, Mississippi River Delta Hydrodynamic and Sediment Transport Modeling, US Army Corps of Engineers, 2013-2017
  • Board of Experts, Hydroelectric Projects, Santa Cruz, Argentina, 2014-2016
  • Science Advisory Committee, Firenze 2016 Project for Flood Protection, Florence, Italy, 2014-2016
  • EPA Focus Feasibility Study Evaluation-Lower Passaic River Restoration, New Jersey Maxus Energy 2014-2016
  • Northfield Mountain / Turners Falls operations on the Connecticut River FERC Relicensing Hydropower Project, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, MA, 2014
  • Expert Witness, Flooding at Marseilles, Illinois. US Department of Justice, 2013-2016
  • River Sedimentation, Costa Rica, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, 2013-2014
  • Belo Monte Hydroelectric Project, Brazil, NESA & Intertechne 2013
  • Restoration and Flood Control of Bogota River, Colombia, World Bank, 2013
  • Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study, North Dakota and Minnesota, Batelle & US Army Corps of Engineers, 2010-2011

Professional Registrations

  • Corresponding Member, National Academy of Engineering of Argentina.
  • Licensed Engineer, Colegio de Ingenieros, Santa Fe Argentina.
  • International Water Resources Association (IWRA)
  • International Association for Hydraulic Engineering and Research (IAHR)
  • American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE)
  • Water Environment Federation (WEF)
  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Research Statement

Dr. Garc￿is a leader in the field of river mechanics, sediment transport, sedimentation engineering and environmental hydraulics. He is best known for his research in sediment entrainment from riverbeds, flow and transport in vegetated channels, the mechanics of oceanic turbidity currents, and the dynamics of mudflows in mountain areas. His research has been funded at the Federal level by the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. At the state level, Dr. Garc￿has received support from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC), the Illinois Water Resources Center, the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program and the Sanitary District of Decatur, Illinois.

Research Interests

  • Sustainable hydro-power generation with low-head, run-of-the-river dams and hydro-kinetic turbines
  • Urban Flooding in Large Metropolitan Areas like Chicago, Illinois, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Florence, Italy.
  • CFD Computational fluid dynamics Modeling of rivers and hydraulic structures
  • River mechanics: Meandering streams, bank erosion, bedform dynamics, nonlinear dune development in large rivers, channel restoration, unsteady flows, movable-bed hydraulic modeling.
  • Open-channel flows: Near-bed turbulence, flow structure and turbulence in vegetated channels, flows in channels with large roughness elements, transport and dispersion of contaminants, flood hydraulics and control.
  • Oceanic stratified flows: Turbidity currents, mixing and transport, submarine debris and mud flows, CO2 disposal with gravity currents.
  • Transport and fate of oil spills in rivers and coastal areas- Mechanics of oil-sediment aggregation-role of turbulence Control methods to reduce impact of oil pills
  • Sediment transport: Particle-turbulence interaction, turbulent resuspension, saltation and suspension mechanics, gravel and colloids transport.
  • Environmental hydrodynamics: Boundary-layer problems involving turbulence-driven mass transfer at air-water and sediment-water interfaces, turbulence measurements and modeling, turbulence effects on biota, bubble plumes, water quality modeling

Books Authored or Co-Authored (Original Editions)

  • Garc￿ M.H., Hydrodynamics of Sediment Transport, to be published by Balkema Publishers, (under preparation).
  • Garc￿ M.H., Environmental Hydrodynamics, Publications Center, Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Sante Fe, Argentina, 189 pp., 1996 (in Spanish).

Books Edited or Co-Edited (Original Editions)

Books Edited or Co-Edited (Revisions)

Chapters in Books

  • Garcia, M.H. "Ven Te Chow; Hydrologist, Educator, Rainmaker," Chapter in CHANGING THE WORLD FROM A VERY SMALL PLACE, Fred Hoxie (Editor, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Illinois (2016)
  • Martin, J.E., Carr, M., M.H. Garcia, Transport and Mixing in Rivers, in Handbook of Environmental Fluid Mechanics, H/J.S. Fernando (Editor), Taylor and Francis, 2012.
  • Martin, J.E., Sun, T., and M.H. Garcia, Chapter 18: Optical Methods in the Laboratory: an application to density currents over bedforms, Environmental Fluid Mechanics: memorial Volume in Honour of Prof. Gerhard H. Jirka, W. Rodi and M Uhlman (Editors), IAHR Monograph, CRC Press-Taylor & Francis Group, 333-346, 2012.
  • Ashmore, P. and Garcia, M. (2009) 'St. Clair River Sediment Regime' in Impacts on Upper Great Lakes Water Levels: St. Clair River Final Report (International Upper Great Lakes Study (IUGLS), International Joint Commission) 4, 57-84
  • Arndt, R.E.A., Kawakami, D., Wosnik, M., Perlin, M., Duncan, J.H., Admiraal, D.M., and M.H. Garcia, Chapter 15 "Hydraulics" in Handbook of Experimental Fluid Mechanics, Springer-Berlag, Heidelberg, Germany, 959-1033, 2007.
  • Le￿A. S., Oberg N., Schmidt, A. R., and Garc￿ M. H. (2011). ￿The Illinois Transient Model. A state-of-the-art model for simulating the flow dynamics in combined storm-sewer systems￿. Urban Water Systems, Monograph 19.
  • Le￿A. S., Ghidaoui, M. S., Schmidt, A. R., and Garc￿M. H. (2006). ``An Efficient Finite-volume scheme for modeling two-phase flows using the single-equivalent fluid approximation.'' Chapter in Computational Hydraulics Monograph 15, ed. by: E. McBean, R. Pitt, K. Irvine, and W. James, CHI, Ontario, Canada
  • Rhoads, B.L., Garcia, M.H., Rodriguez, J.F., Abad, J.D., Bombardelli, F.A., Daniels, M., 2005. Evaluating the geomorphological performance of naturalized rivers. In: Sears, D., Darby, S. (Eds.). Uncertainty in River Restoration, 44pp.
  • Admiraal, A. and M.H. Garcia, Chapter on ￿Sediment Transport Measurements,￿ in Encyclopedia of Experimental Fluid Mechanics,￿ Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2007.

Articles in Conference Proceedings

  • Dutta, S., Wang, D., Tassi, P. and M.H. Garcia (2015), Modeling the Bulle Phenomenon at Channel Diversions with Telemac, River, Coastal and Estuarine Morphodynamics International Syposium, Iquitos, Peru
  • Santacruz, S., Morales, V., Oberg, N., Garc￿ M.H. (2015), Integrated Urban Drainage Model for the City of Chicago, 10th Urban Drainage Modeling Conference, Toronto, Canada
  • Abad, J. D., Frias, C. (**), Langendoen, E., Best, J., Rhoads, B., Konsoer, K., Garcia, M. H. (2014). ￿Modulation of the flow structure by progressive bed forms in the Meandering Wabash River￿. River Flow 2014, IAHR (International Association for Hydro-Environmental Research), Laussane, Switzerland, September 3-5, 2014.
  • Garcia, T., Murphy, E.A., Jackson, P.R., and M.H. Garcia (2015) Laboratory Experiments Using Synthetic Silver Carp Eggs to Evaluate Critical Hydrodynamic Conditions for Egg Suspension, American Fisheries Society 144th Annual Meeting, Indianapolis
  • Garcia, T., Murphy, E.A., Jackson, P.R., Chapman, D. and M.H. Garcia (2015). Using the Fluvial Egg Drift Simulator (FluEgg) in an Integrated Pest Management Approach to Asian Carp Control, American Fisheries Society 144th Annual Meeting, Indianapolis
  • Garcia, M.H., Martin, J.E., Landry, B.J., Waratuke, A.R., and N. Oberg (2013). "On the Effectiveness of Levees for Flood Control: An Application of the Hydraulic Performance Graph Method,"Proceedings of IAHR World Congress, Chengdu, China.
  • Bryk, A., Best, J., Abad, J. D., Garcia, M. H. (2012). ￿The influence of channel-skewed bedforms on secondary flows in high curvature meander bends￿. Third International Symposium on Shallow Flows, University of Iowa City, IA, USA, June 4-6.
  • Sinha, S. and M.H. Garcia. "A comparative study between 2D and 3D model based on Shallow Water Equations, Development and Applications" HIC-2012 10th International Conference on Hydroinformatics. Understanding Changing Climate and Environment Finding Solutions, Hamburg, Germany, July 2012.
  • Sinha, S. and M. H. Garcia. "Three-Dimensional numerical modeling of density currents in the Chicago River, Chicago, IL" TELEMAC-MASCARET User Conference, St Hugh￿s College, Oxford, UK, 18-19 October 2012 St Hugh￿s College, Oxford, UK
  • Abad, J. D., Motta, D., Langendoen, E. J., Fernandez, R., Oberg, N., Garcia, M. H. (2012). ￿Restoration of meandering channels: The need for the development of physically-based mathematical GIS platforms ￿ RVR Meander￿, ASCE-EWRI, Albuquerque, NM, USA, May 20-24.

Invited Lectures

  • Fluid Mechanics of Density Currents
  • "Advances in River Modeling"
  • "Impact of Sediments on River Ecology"
  • "The Universe of Gravity Currents"
  • "Urban Hidraulics and Public Health: the Chicago Experience"
  • "A sediment journey through the Bermejo River of Argentina and Bolivia: from debris flows to meandering, ending in washload"
  • "Belo Monte Hydropower Project Diversion Channel: Rock Stability While Conveying 14,000 m3/s"
  • "Hydraulics in the Time of Cholera: the Chicago River, Urban Growth and Lake Michigan
  • "Building the Canal that Saved Chicago and its impact on the Panama Canal Construction"

Other Publications

  • Altinakar, M., Ettema, R., Garcia, M.H., Melville, B.W., Nikora, V., and G. Parker. Stephen Edward Coleman (1966￿2012), Acta Geophysica, 12/2012; 60(6). DOI: 10.2478/s11600-012-0073-1

Journal Editorships

  • Editorial Board, Journal of Environmental Fluid Mechanics, (2014-present)
  • Editor-in-Chief, ASCE Manual of Practice 110, Sedimentation Engineering (1999-2008)
  • Revista Ingenieria del Agua, Associate Editor, 2005-2010, Spain.
  • International Journal of Infrastructure and Natural Disasters, Assoc. Editor, 2000-2010 (Puerto Rico)
  • Hydraulic Eng. in Mexico (Mexican Institute of Water Technology), Assoc. Editor, 1999-2010
  • Water Resources Research (American Geophysical Union), Associate Editor, 1999-2000
  • International Journal of Hydraulic Research, IAHR, Editor-in-Chief, 2001-2006

Professional Societies

  • Delegate, University Council on Water Resources, UCOWR, 2013-2015
  • Environmental and Water Resources Institute, Editor-in-Chief, Manual of Practice 110 ￿Sedimentation Engineering￿
  • International Association for Hydraulic Research (IAHR) Editor, Journal of Hydraulic Research 2001-2006
  • American geophysical Union (AGU) Associate Editor, Water Resources Research, 1998-2000
  • Fluid Mechanics Fundamentals Committee, Control Group Member, 1994 - 2000
  • Turbulence Committee; Member, 1992 - 1996; Control Group Member, 1997 - 2000
  • Engineering Mechanics Division
  • Chair, Task Committee on ￿Education in Sediment Transport￿
  • Sedimentation Committee; Control Group Member, 1994 - 1998; Chair, 1999 - 2004
  • Water Resources Engineering Division

Service on University Committees

  • University Off-Cycle Promotion & Tenure Committee 2015-2017
  • University Promotion & Tenure Committee 2011-2014
  • CEE Head Search Committee, 2014
  • CEE Head Search Committee, 2009
  • OEE Administrative Committee 2002-2004
  • CEE Advisory Committee, 2004-2006
  • Promotion and Tenure Committee, 2002-2005
  • Head Search Committee, November 1995, 2004, 2005
  • Graduate Admissions, Fellowships, and Assistantships Committee, 1994 - 1996
  • CE Advisory Committee 1993 - 2000

Service on Department Committees

  • CEE Awards Committee, 2014-present
  • CEE Faculty Search Committee 2015
  • Chair, CEE Advisory Committee, 2011-2014
  • Chair, Committee to develop guidelines for non-tenure track faculty, 2009-2010
  • Head Search Committee, 2009
  • OEE Administrative Committee 2002-2004
  • CEE Advisory Committee, 2004-2006
  • Promotion and Tenure Committee, 2002-2005
  • Head Search Committee, November 1995, 2004, 2005
  • Graduate Admissions, Fellowships, and Assistantships Committee, 1994 - 1996

Service on College Committees

  • COE Committee on Appointments for Chairs and Professorships, Chair, 2015-
  • Committee to Review Undergraduate Experience in Fluid Mechanics Laboratory 2012
  • Boneyard Creek Sedimentation Study, 2010-2011
  • Vice Chancellor Committee for University Scholars, 2005-2006
  • College of Engineering Executive Committee, 2004-2006.
  • Boneyard Creek Model Study, 1998 ￿ 2000
  • Dean￿s Committee on Appointments, 2002-2005
  • Honors Council, College of Engineering, 1997 ￿ 2000
  • Engineering Open House Judge, March 1995
  • Fluid Dynamics Coordinating Committee, October 1992

Service on Campus Committees

  • Off-Cycle Promotion and Tenure Committee Office of the Provost 2015-
  • Promotion and Tenure Committee Office of the Provost 2012-2015
  • Faculty Senate ,1998-2000
  • Host, President￿s Award Program for Minorities, 1992 ￿ present

Service to Federal and State Government

  • Science Advisory Committee, Firenze 2016 Project for Flood Protection, Florence, Italy, 2014-2016
  • International Great Lakes Commission (Canada-USA) Co-Leader Sedimentation Studies Task Working Group for St. Clair River, 2007-2010
  • Steering Committee Member, Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System, CSDMS, 2013-2017 (http://csdms.colorado.edu)
  • Member, Selection Committee, International Lorenz G. Straub Award Competition for PhD Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 2014-2017
  • Science Advisory Committee, University of Trento, Italy, 2007-2010.
  • Expert Panel for ￿Water Resources at the US Geological Survey.￿ National Research Council, The National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2004-2006.
  • Expert Panel for ￿River Science at the US Geological Survey,￿ National Research Council, The National Academies, Washington, D.C., 2004-2006
  • Expert Panel for ￿Housatonic River Hydrodynamic Modeling,￿ Commonwealth of Massachusetts, US Environmental Protection Agency, State of Connecticut, Department of the Interior, NOAA, March- 2001.
  • Expert Panel for ￿Development of a TMDL Model for PCBs in the Delaware River Basin,￿ Delaware River Basin Commission, West Trenton, New Jersey, 2000-2001.
  • Steering Committee for Workshop on Environmental Windows for Dredging Projects, National Research Council, July 2000-June 2001.

Other Outside Service

  • Expert advice, 2013 Flooding of Marseilles Illinois, US Department of Justice 2013-2016
  • Advisor, Kalamazoo River Oil Spill, EPA, USGS, 2012-2016
  • Chair, External Review Committee, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Notre Dame, 2013
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources: Drown proofing of Dams in the Vermillion River, 2004
  • Hydraulic Engineering Luncheon Seminar, Champaign, Illinois, November 1998
  • Illinois Department of Transportation: Drown proofing of low-head dams along the Fox River, 1995