Erman Pearson
President: 1965-1969


Erman Pearson

Distinguished Pioneer

Professional background

Erman A. Pearson (1920 – 1985) received his MS and PhD degrees from MIT in 1949 following his undergraduate studies at the University of Washington.  The Civil Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley, was his professional base, from 1949 until his passing in 1985. His tenure at Berkeley was distinguished by the significant expansion and deepening of the sanitary engineering program under his leadership.

Dr. Pearson’s broad research interests included a particular focus on assessment of the effects of wastewater disposal practices on marine and estuarine waters.  This led in 1958, under his direction, to the first comprehensive study of a major estuarine system -the San Francisco Bay and contiguous waters.  He was also a founder of the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project that played a key role in shaping policy and practice in the populous region.

Erman Pearson was also an active practitioner with an extensive range of consulting assignments.  Perhaps the most memorable example of his marriage of research and practice was his serving three terms on the US EPA’s Science Advisory Board, an activity of critical importance to implementation of major environmental statutes including the internationally ground breaking USA 1972 Clean Water Act.

Major contributions to IWA

Perhaps inspired by his Scandinavian ancestry and a year as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Oslo, Dr Pearson was committed to and actively promoted professional collaboration at an international scale.  Accordingly, he was one of the founders of IAWPR in 1962/1965 and served as its first President 1965 -1969.  He both co-organized and presided over IAWPR’s 5th biennial congress, held in San Francisco in 1970 – an event  opened by then US President Ronald Reagan.  In subsequent years, he continued his active participation in IAWPR in topics related to marine pollution.

Author: Michael Kavanaugh, USA

Major contributors:  R Trussell, J Koon, and T Shea