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November 11, 2020

Bob Rauber and Julie Demuth chosen as 2020 Outstanding Alums

Two exceptional alumni from the department will receive the Outstanding Alum Award this year, Bob Rauber and Julie Demuth.

Rauber earned his M.S. (1981) and Ph.D. (1985) from the department, studying with Professor Lew Grant. His dissertation was “Physical Structure of Northern Colorado River Basin Cloud Systems.”

Rauber joined the faculty of the atmospheric sciences department at the University of Illinois in 1987, where he has been an award-winning teacher. He served as department head from 2008-18 and led the development of the Illinois atmospheric sciences undergraduate degree program, now among the largest in the country. In 2018 Rauber was appointed director of the U of I School of Earth, Society, and Environment.

Rauber’s research spans many topics in physical meteorology, radar meteorology and mesoscale meteorology, and he has led many major field programs. His research includes cloud and mesoscale modeling and extensive work with conventional, dual-Doppler and airborne radars, radiometers, and other aircraft, ground-based and satellite instruments.

Rauber is a prolific author and has published highly successful textbooks on radar meteorology, severe and hazardous weather, and Earth science. He is well known for his dedicated service to the atmospheric science community, including nine years as chief editor of the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology and extensive service to AMS and UCAR. AMS recognized Rauber with the Charles Franklin Brooks Award for outstanding service to the society in 2019. He has been an AMS Fellow since 2006.

Demuth received her M.S. from the department in 2001 and was advised by University Distinguished Professor Emeritus Tom Vonder Haar. Her M.S. thesis was “Objectively Estimating Tropical Cyclone Intensity and Wind Structure Using the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit.” 

After leaving CSU, Demuth worked for the National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate before beginning a successful career at NCAR. While at NCAR, Demuth completed a CSU Ph.D. in public communication and technology. Her dissertation was “Developing a Valid Scale of Past Tornado Experiences.”

Demuth has pioneered a new and important research area that addresses pressing questions about how atmospheric science intersects with society. Her research and publications have broken new ground at the intersection of atmospheric science and risk communication. 

Demuth’s work is highly cited, she is frequently invited to address high-profile conferences, and she has provided important feedback to the NWS concerning best practices and improved responses during major weather events.

Demuth co-founded the grassroots Weather and Society*Integrated Studies (WAS*IS) movement, dedicated to changing the weather enterprise by comprehensively and sustainably integrating social science into meteorological research and practice. Over the years, Demuth has been an outstanding mentor to many who have worked to integrate societal relevance into their research activities.

Rauber was nominated for the ATS Outstanding Alum award by Larry Di Girolamo, and Demuth was nominated by Andrea and Russ Schumacher.

A virtual celebration will be held 3 p.m. Dec. 10 to honor the winners and so they can share their work with the department.

Note from Bob Rauber:

I want to sincerely thank everyone in the Department of Atmospheric Science for considering me for this honor. The Department truly launched my career with opportunities I could get nowhere else.

I am particularly indebted to my advisor, Prof. Lewis O. Grant, for opening my eyes to the excitement of field research. Lew gave me responsibilities for both managing field campaigns and developing novel analysis approaches to field data that I carry through to this day. I was so sad to learn of his passing some years ago, but happy that I was able to honor him before his passing when the Department invited me back in 2016 to give a talk at the Department anniversary celebration. Lew was in the audience and had no idea that the title of my talk would be “Career lessons I learned from Lew.”

I am also deeply grateful for the advice and friendship of Prof. Bill Cotton. I ran so many miles with Bill around the foothills that I’m sure the tracks are still there from our footprints. Our discussions on these runs were instrumental to completing my degree, and in all future aspects of my career.

As my career as a professor at the University of Illinois developed, I have continually benefited from my experiences at CSU. Those who know me know that I love fieldwork — my experiences at the Department helped me lead or participate in 23 field campaigns after graduating. What a trip! I also have had the wonderful experience of guiding my own students through their degrees and helping launch their careers.

Would I do it all over again? You bet! I tell our undergraduates here at the University of Illinois who are considering graduate school that they should have CSU on their radar screen. They can’t go wrong if they choose to go to CSU, a department with a long history of excellence, and a great place to launch a career.

Note from Julie Demuth:

I’m incredibly humbled. It’s such a tremendous honor to be chosen for this distinguished award and to be among so many accomplished, talented past honorees.

This award is especially meaningful in that I can trace my interest in studying the intersection of the atmospheric and social sciences back to when I was pursuing my M.S. at CSU. For one of my classes, I read a research paper (by a scholar who is now a dear friend and collaborator) about public perception of hazardous weather and climate change. I was fascinated, and I came to realize the research represented a nascent field of study.

I’m intrigued by how the atmosphere works and by the predictability – and predictability limitations – of hazardous weather. I’m also intrigued by how people perceive and respond to the risks posed by hazardous weather and its intrinsic uncertainty. Tying together these research threads has been challenging but incredibly rewarding. There are so many important, interesting, and complex science questions and pressing societal needs that fall at the interface of atmospheric science and risk communication (in addition to other social science disciplines)!

I’m so grateful for all the friends and colleagues whom I’ve learned from along the way and with whom I have the joy of collaborating to investigate these complex problems. I’m thankful that there is support for this kind of convergence science in the meteorological community, including in CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science. And, I’m especially appreciative of Andrea and Russ Schumacher for nominating me and of the selection committee for this honor.

Thank you kindly,

Photos at top: Bob Rauber with his grandsons, Max and Henry, and Julie Demuth.