Science & Technology

2023 D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Awardee David Tarboton Emphasizes Importance of Data

By Kirsten Reither |

David Tarboton presents the D. Wynne Thorne Lecture.

David Tarboton spoke on the importance of properly organizing and sharing research data at the annual D. Wynne Thorne Lecture on April 8.

The lecture, part of Utah State University’s Research Week, recognizes the previous year’s recipient of the D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award. It is the most prestigious research recognition awarded by USU.

The central message of Tarboton’s lecture was “Let the Data Speak.” He emphasized the importance of using raw data or data-based models to learn and make predictions about watersheds. In particular, he said, data should be “FAIR” — findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

“The way the data is organized can enhance or inhibit the analysis that can be done,” Tarboton said.

A key part of “letting the data speak” is sharing raw data with other researchers, which has also been a highlight of Tarboton’s career. He led the development of HydroShare, a system that allows researchers and others to share hydrologic data and models. The platform fosters collaboration and furthers research goals by making data more accessible for researchers around the world.

“Data and models are first-class products of research and should be shared,” Tarboton said. “It’s the people that have carried the work on.”

Dr. Tarboton’s lecture focused on his career path and his research on hydrology and information systems. After earning his Sc.D. in civil engineering from MIT, Tarboton began working at Utah State University in 1990. His career with USU started in the Department of Watershed Sciences, and is currently a faculty member in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. In 2019, he was appointed director of the Utah Water Research Laboratory, a nationwide leader in watershed research.

To learn more about Research Week or the D. Wynne Thorne Lecture, visit


Kirsten Reither
Research Communications


David Tarboton
Utah Water Research Laboratory


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