Professor Eagleson is a scientist who integrated ecology and hydrology and redefined hydrology from an ad hoc engineering speciality to a multidisciplinary, global environmental geoscience, in which the green, living features of the ecosystems have an important part to play. He has been seeking to develop new models of dynamic hydrology, looking at the hydrological cycle as the key process linking the physics, biology and chemistry of the Earth system.
He has worked at MIT since 1952, and since 1965 he has held a chair as Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. At MIT he created a new platform for longer-term and more credible forecasts, be it of weather, water availability, or threats from water and potential floods. And he dared to bring different disciplines together, for example by integrating hydrological processes into mathematical computer models for large-scale climate forecasts.
Since 1997, Professor Eagleson has continued his exploration of the Darwinian connections between vegetation and climate; the practical goal being to anticipate, temporally and spatially, the biological changes that climate change will bring. His book, Ecohydrology: Darwinian Expression of Vegetation Form and Function. The book bridges the fields of hydrology and ecology and proposes new unifying principles derived from the concept of natural selection. It also has potential application in determining the response of vegetation to slow variations in climate. He is now writing a second book dealing with the geographical range and diversity of tree species.
In 1997 he was awarded the Stockholm International Water Institute's World Water Prize.