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November 19, 2019

Jennifer Mahoney honored as 2019 Outstanding Alum

Department Head Jeff Collett presented Jennifer Mahoney with the 2019 Outstanding Alum Award in a ceremony Nov. 12. Collett noted that Mahoney recently was promoted to director of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory’s Global Systems Division, shortly after the department committee made its selection. He joked that he liked to think they gave Mahoney a little boost toward her promotion, but if nothing else, her promotion was further proof of the quality of their choice.

Mahoney thanked the department for the award and gave a talk about “The Unimagined Path.” One outcome she had never imagined was leading one of NOAA’s premier scientific laboratories. “Mentors combined with motivation mixed with opportunity can lead to outcomes never imagined,” she wrote in her abstract.

“Overcoming negativity, discouragement, and opposition to achieve my goals took personal courage and amazing scientific mentors. Many of those mentors were here at CSU,” she stated.

Mahoney offered tips for early-career scientists and provided an overview of the cutting-edge scientific research underway at GSD. Located in Boulder, GSD is developing the next generation regional-to-global Unified Forecast System, Exascale-computing technologies, and next-generation decision support tools that provide communities with actionable information.

Mahoney oversees more than 200 research scientists and engineers in her new role. She was part of the GSD management team that successfully developed and then transitioned the High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model into operation. It is now the premier short-term forecast model used by NOAA and by the FAA for aviation weather, and one example from her extensive record of transitioning scientific advances into operations. She has received numerous awards during her career, including a 2016 NOAA Research Employee of the Year Award for Leadership.

Mahoney received her M.S. from the department in 1992. She was advised by Professor Tom McKee, who nominated her for the award. Her thesis was “Synoptic and Mesoscale Features in Colorado Winter Storms: A Climatology.”