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Dr. Robert Traver Leaves Big Shoes to Fill After Stepping Down as Daylor Chair

Dr. Robert Traver

Over the past five years, Dr. Robert Traver, PE, D.WRE, F.EWRI, F.ASCE, ’82 MSCE, director of the Villanova Center for Resilient Water Systems (VCRWS), has written $5.5 million in grants with a high success rate. He has received over 1800 citations in refereed publications and written more than 14 journal articles, one book and many conference papers and presentations. He has traveled the world to share his expertise. The one thing Dr. Traver has not done, however, is accept full credit for his accomplishments. Instead, he heaps praise on his research team, which he says, “eclipses these numbers.” That respect and appreciation for his colleagues was evident this spring, when Dr. Traver announced that he was stepping down from his position as Edward A. Daylor Chair in Civil Engineering to provide an opportunity for a rising scholar.

When asked to reflect on his years as Daylor Chair (2015-2020), the first thing Dr. Traver mentions is how proud he is of the research team assembled within VCRWS and the Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership: “While not all professors and students are on each project, our work complements each other to the benefit of the team and the university.” Highlights include expanding the team’s focus beyond stormwater to include more river geomorphology work, as well as disaster assistance. Personally, Dr. Traver is directing a multiyear research project with PennDOT on the I-95 rebuild in Philadelphia, authoring a complete revision of the Pennsylvania Stormwater Manual, and working with Civil and Environmental Engineering colleague Dr. Bridget Wadzuk—the newly named Daylor Chair—on a long-term study of a raingarden they built on campus 18 years ago.

Throughout his decades’ long career, Dr. Traver has accumulated numerous awards, including the ASCE 2014 William H. Wisley American Civil Engineer Award, and in 2007, the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, the third highest honor the Department of the Army can award a civilian. During his time as Daylor Chair, he received two of his most impressive honors:  the Villanova University Outstanding Research Award, and the ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Institute (EWRI) Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to the honors and recognition, Dr. Traver was an invited speaker / keynote at two international symposiums in China, one in Panama, and one in the United States. He further connects to his profession by routinely presenting Villanova’s research to Pennsylvania engineering groups, leading several committees within the EWRI, serving as an associate editor on the Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment, and chairing the University Water Resources Research Council.

Putting aside the many accolades, Dr. Traver is clearly most proud of the work his team has done to “change the design practices of the profession.” He says: “Through combining soils, water, climate and plants, and coupling field research with computer simulation, and now machine learning, our understanding is deepening, and solutions to the degradation of our water resources are being discovered. The changes to our climate are here, and the urgency is only increasing. We have many challenges in our future as water resource engineers.”