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May 8, 2020

Ben Toms and Andrea Jenney receive department honors for student research

Ben Toms and Andrea Jenney were honored in a virtual ceremony today for outstanding student research. Toms, nominated by his advisers Elizabeth Barnes and Imme Ebert-Uphoff, received the Riehl Memorial Award for his paper, “Physically Interpretable Neural Networks for the Geosciences,” based on his machine learning research. Jenney, advised by Professors Dave Randall and Barnes, received the Alumni Award for two published papers describing her observational study of the teleconnections through which the Madden-Julian Oscillation influences North American weather.

“Ben’s paper is truly revolutionary for how geoscientists think about and utilize machine learning (specifically neural networks) for scientific discovery,” Barnes and Ebert-Uphoff wrote in their nomination.

Toms was invited to present his work at AGU and AMS conferences, resulting in two AMS oral presentation awards this year.

“Although the paper [Ben] was nominated for was written at the very start of his Ph.D., it is the type of big thinking you often see at the end of a Ph.D. or during a postdoc,” Barnes said during the ceremony.

Jenney first came to CSU as a CMMAP intern in 2014. After enrolling in August 2015, she defended her M.S. in June of 2017 — much faster than most M.S. students, Randall noted.

Jenney’s work published in the Journal of Geophysical Research was featured in the second most viewed Eos Editor’s Highlight of all time. The same paper was in the top 10 percent of most downloaded papers over a two-year period following its publication.

Jenney recently received a prestigious NOAA Climate & Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with Professor Mike Pritchard at the University of California, Irvine, on a project she proposed.

“She is an exceptionally talented early-career scientist with a brilliant future,” Randall said in his nomination.

Herbert Riehl, Jr. attended the award ceremony remotely. The Herbert Riehl Memorial Award honors his father, who founded the department.

Toms and Jenney each gave a brief technical presentation on their research following announcement of their awards. View the award ceremony and presentations here.