The Mehta Award is a given to an individual who has made significant contributions to the advancement in the theory or application of cohesive sediment transport in the marine or aquatic environment. The award, which carries a plaque and a prize of $3,000, is normally given when INTERCOH is convened. Awardees are globally selected and are not limited in any way to the specific themes or participants at the conference.

The award is named in the memory of Jayant J. Mehta (1916-1996) by his son Ashish J. Mehta. Jayant J. Mehta (MS, MIT, 1938) was a pioneer in the inception and growth of the petrochemical industry in India, contributing significantly to the country’s industrial expansion starting in the 1970s. The award is given only if a suitable candidate is chosen. In that event the Award Committee will indicate the basis for its choice in its letter to the awardee. Deliberations by the committee leading to the selection will remain internal to the committee whose decision will be final. The awardee will be invited to the conference to present a keynote lecture on the award topic.

The Award Committee is affiliated to the Steering Committee of the International Conference on Cohesive Sediment Transport Processes (INTERCOH). It includes three members approved by the Steering Committee. The tenure of each member is 6 years. The present members are Dr. Carl Friedrichs (Chair), Dr. Erik Toorman, and Dr. Sergio Fagherazzi.

The deadline for nominations is about four months prior to the conference, which is biennial. Specific deadline date is given in the announcement of the next conference. Nominations are welcome from anyone associated with cohesive sediment transport research or application. The package should include a letter of transmittal from the nominator indicating the basis for the choice of the nominee, nominee’s bio-data and two letters of support from individuals other than the nominator. The entire package must be transmitted by e-mail to Professor Susanna Vinzon, INTERCOH Steering Committee Chair, at:

Awards given to date include:

2021: Prof. Johan C. Winterwerp

Prof. Johan C. Winterwerp received the 2021 J.J. Mehta award for novel and outstanding contributions to observations and insights on coastal cohesive sediment transport. The scientific work of Han Winterwerp is focused on engineering problems that he encountered during his many years as an engineering consultant and in academia. He has developed practical solutions to tackle these problems, most elegantly combining theory, modeling, and experiments. His major contributions to the study of the behavior of cohesive sediments are on stratification effects on fine sediment suspension flow, flocculation, settling, consolidation, erosion, and wave-damping triggered by fluid mud. His publication record is by far the most authoritative and exhaustive in the field of cohesive sediment processes, including two comprehensive textbooks. He has inspired many engineers, students, and practitioners, transmitting them his enthusiasm about fine sediment transport. The concepts and ideas he has developed are now applied in science and in engineering studies all over. He served as chairman of the Scientific Steering Committee of INTERCOH for many years and organized its 7th meeting in Delft in 2000.

2019: Dr. Michael Fettweis

Dr. Michael Fettweis received the 2019 J.J. Mehta award for his outstanding achievements related to the transport of particulate matter in shallow coastal seas and estuaries. Michael has made both basic and applied research contributions specializing in measurement, data analysis and numerical modeling of fine-grained particle movement. With his background in both science and engineering, he has been able to develop comprehensive approaches for data interpretation accounting for the hydromechanical, geological and biological processes underpinning particle dynamics. Working in the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences he has maintained active collaborations with several marine research institutions due to his unique expertise in field measurements. Although his work is focused on the Belgian coast, he has made noteworthy interpretative contributions based on data from the southern North Sea, Northwestern European continental shelf and the Venice Lagoon. The body of is work is found in 44 well received peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals.

2017: Dr. Sergio Fagherazzi

Prof. Sergio Fagherazzi received the 2017 J.J. Mehta award for his outstanding achievements in research related to morphodynamics and sediment transport in cohesive environments, including wetlands, deltas, tidal flats and lagoons. Sergio’s contributions are especially noteworthy in the field of ecomorphodynamics, which examines feedbacks between physical and biological processes and the co-evolution of coastal landscapes and ecosystems. He applies his morphodynamic insights to diverse environments around the world, including recent projects in Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Italy, and on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf Coasts of the United States. Among Sergio’s most significant contributions is his fundamental work on the characteristic formation of scarps between salt marshes and tidal flats, and the resulting bimodal distribution of elevations stemming from wave-induced sediment resuspension. Sergio’s important studies also include extensive work on morphodynamic feedback in coastal mangroves and deltas. Sergio’s research productivity is simply stunning: Since 2000 he has published more than 90 peer-reviewed articles, including 20 in the last two years alone. Sergio’s insights reach an especially large audience through his frequent contributions to thoughtful review papers, focused on topics such as river mouth deposits, modeling of salt marshes, and the evolution of inner continental shelf.

2015: Dr. Erik A. Toorman

Prof. Erik A. Toorman received the 2015 J.J. Mehta award for outstanding research in the physics of cohesive sediment transport and service to Intercoh. His major scientific works have been on an integral approach to the physics of consolidation, rheological behavior of fluid mud and interaction of suspended fine sediment with turbulent flow. Erik’s rigorous analyses have been mainly based numerical modeling as a research tool. He has published in numerous scientific and at times engineering-oriented journals, and has presented his novel ideas at numerous conferences. Erik co-managed COSINUS, a successful, multi-year European project in cohesive sediment research. In 1997 he initiated, and has since maintained, the cohesive sediment mailing list (CSRList). He has been an active member of the Intercoh Steering Committee, and has been the organizer, together with colleagues, of 2015 meeting in Leuven. With this award, the committee acknowledged Erik’s many contributions to cohesive sediment transport research across his career.

2013: Dr. Carl T. Friedrichs

Prof. Carl T. Friedrichs received the 2013 J.J. Mehta award for outstanding achievements in research and teaching related to cohesive sediment transport. Carl’s noteworthy contribution to cohesive sediments began with his dissertation on the morphodynamics of shallow tidal channels and flats as part of his PhD degree in 1993 from the MIT-Woods Hole joint program in marine science. Early in his career at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, he was granted the prestigious National Science Foundation Career Award for conducting research. Besides his doctoral topic, Carl’s papers, many authored with his students and colleagues, have been very frequently cited for novel observations on the transport of flocs in estuaries especially where turbidity maxima occur, and the physics of coastal cross-shelf sediment transport. In 2000, Carl started a new outreach and mentoring program called SEDIMENT (Science Education Inspired through MENToring). Through this program high school and undergraduate students pair with graduate students and faculty mentors in team research projects addressing interdisciplinary processes involving sediment dynamics, such as sedimentation in marshes and seabed mixing by benthic biota. As a result of this work he received the Presidential Award from Bill Clinton. Carl is a popular teacher who is able to convey fundamental learning of fluid flow and sediment transport mechanics.

2011: Dr. Pierre Le Hir

Dr. Pierre Le Hir received the 2011 Jayant J. Mehta prize for his important contributions to the discipline of cohesive sediments over a long period of time. In his curriculum vitae, Pierre is introduced as a modeler, but that c.v. shows a much broader interest. According to the ISI Web of Knowledge, Pierre’s first two publications stem from 1998, and since then more than 30 publications followed, which were cited more than 420 times. His best cited paper concerns the characterization of intertidal mudflats, which appeared in 2000 in Continental Shelf Research. His so-called h-index amounts to 11, which is only one measure for the high quality of his work.
Pierre Le Hir is an active member of the Intercoh community. His many scientific contributions to the Intercoh proceedings, however, are unfortunately not included in the ISO Web, as these proceedings are classified as “grey literature”. However, one of these contributions, i.e. his 2001 paper on continuous modeling, which appeared in the 1998 Intercoh proceedings, forms a key in understanding Pierre’s work, which is characterized by innovative ideas. Pierre was never afraid to follow new, unexplored paths in his work. In this 2001 paper, Pierre introduced the concept of “integrated modeling” for the first time. Many from the Intercoh community followed Pierre, sometimes only a decade or so later. Pierre’s modeling work was really pioneering, and today he is considered as a leading authority in this field.
Pierre is not an “ivory tower” scientist, and he is active on many fronts since he received his engineering degree in 1977, his PhD in 1980, and joined Ifremer in 1981. He is highly appreciated in his country France, and participates in many scientific committees, serving French society, such as for the Loire and the LITEAU program, and he is member of the Comité Supérieur de l’Océanographique Militaire.
Within the framework of the 2011 Jayant J. Mehta prize, Pierre’s contribution to the Intercoh community is to be acknowledged in particular. Pierre is active member of the International Steering Committee, and organized the 2007 meeting in Brest.