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William E. Wilson, 1934 – 2023

William (Bill) E. Wilson, the first Technical Editor of Hydrogeology Journal


William E Wilson

William E. Wilson: the first Technical Editor of Hydrogeology Journal

William (Bill) E. Wilson, the first Technical Editor of the IAH international journal, Hydrogeology Journal, passed away recently, after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Bill (June 4, 1934 – April 18, 2023) was a very kind and witty person and a very insightful hydrogeologist.

He served as a hydrologic scientist at US Geological Survey (USGS) for 28 years, where he conducted numerous investigations of ground-water resources in the US states of Connecticut and Florida. Bill also developed and directed the hydrologic characterization program at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the proposed US site for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste. As a result of these efforts, he received the USGS Special Achievement Award in recognition of exceptional service. Upon retirement from USGS in 1990, he worked in Switzerland for 2.5 years (1991-1993), under contract to Intera Inc. (Austin, Texas), where he advised the Swiss National Cooperative for the Storage of Radioactive Wastes (NAGRA) on various hydrogeologic aspects of their characterization programs in fractured crystalline rocks and marls. 

Bill Wilson received his BS degree in geology from Harvard College (1956) and his PhD in hydrogeology from the University of Illinois (1962). He published numerous technical papers on topics such as hydrologic inventories of river basins, effects of ground-water development, ground-water modeling, hydrogeology of unsaturated zones, and conceptual models of fluid flow.

During 1987-90, Bill served as the Editor of “The Hydrogeologist”, the newsletter of the Hydrogeology Division of the Geological Society of America, and in 1991, he received the Distinguished Service Award from that organization.

During his active years, Bill enjoyed traveling, hiking, and camping with friends and family. He was a skilled writer and editor, and in retirement he enjoyed researching and writing about local history. He was also a long-time practitioner of Transcendental Meditation. Bill had a long-standing interest in observing weather phenomena and was a volunteer observer for the US National Weather Service and he also participated in a US national network of volunteer precipitation observers. 

Bill was a vital creator of Hydrogeology Journal at its outset. The journal was initially called “Applied Hydrogeology” and its founding Editor was Gene Simpson (University of Arizona). It was first published (4 issues per year in 1992) by an IAH associate, Verlag Heinz Heise (Hannover, Germany), whose specialty was publishing informal magazines about technical subjects and telephone books. Then, in 1994, Simpson had to end his editorship due to health reasons. So, John Moore (USGS), President of IAH at that time (starting in 1993), took over as Acting Editor in a transition year to two new Editors. During the transition year, David Banks (UK) was the Guest Editor of two issues. It was Moore and the IAH Secretary General, Andrew Skinner, who enlisted Cliff Voss (USGS) as the new Editor, and Bill Wilson as the Technical Editor, both to succeed Simpson. 

Bill managed the submittal, review and the revision process, interacting with reviewers and with authors when he did scientific editing of content. Bill (and his wife, Kathie, who continues to live in their North Carolina, USA, residence) worked on producing the final reviewed, revised, and typeset versions of articles that were sent to the publisher, making the content appear as a professional international science journal (which was not a normal publication type for the Heise publishing company). In 1995, Bill and Cliff, in cooperation with IAH, changed the journal’s name to “Hydrogeology Journal” to give it wider scope. Then, in 1998, IAH agreed that the international scientific publisher, Springer Verlag (Heidelberg, Germany) should begin to produce the IAH journal, and Bill worked with Springer to create an effective new workflow for the authors, reviewers and associate editors, and for creating a professional and appealing journal design. In 1999, as a result of the young journal’s success, it grew in size from 4 to 6 issues per year. 

Bill concluded his tenure as Technical Editor at the end of 2000, after shepherding the IAH journal through its first 7 years. In his “Farewell and thanks!” note, part of an Editors’ Message (Hydrogeology Journal, 2000, 8:577-578) Bill was proud that his efforts had provided an opportunity for scientists from countries all over the world to publish their results and analyses in an international scientific journal. He said that he was happy that he had helped to put Hydrogeology Journal “on sound scientific footing, solidly in a niche with the elite international journals in our field”. 

IAH is indebted to William E. Wilson for helping to put its new journal on a path to international success. 

Cliff Voss

Executive Editor, Hydrogeology Journal

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