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2021 Announcements

December 9, 2021

Department honors 2021 Outstanding Alum Tristan L’Ecuyer

The department recognized 2021 Outstanding Alum Tristan L’Ecuyer Dec. 9 in a hybrid ceremony held both virtually and at ATS.

Department Head Jeff Collett introduced L’Ecuyer and presented him with the trophy. Collett shared a passage from L’Ecuyer’s cover letter submitted with his application to the graduate program in 1997.

“‘I am a hard-working student who is very eager to learn and have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the scientific community,’” Collett quoted. “Clearly, Tristan, you have made more than one significant contribution to the community, so congratulations.”

L’Ecuyer said the award was a pleasant surprise. “It’s such a meaningful award because it’s coming from the people I’ve worked with, the people I’ve known for many years,” he said. “For all the great alumni we’ve had from this department over the years, to be considered among that group was a huge honor – probably the biggest honor I’ve received so far in my career.”

L’Ecuyer gave a talk linking his dissertation work on tropical diabatic heating to his current research leading NASA’s PREFIRE mission, the Polar Radiant Energy in the Far Infrared Experiment. He credited his research group at the University of Wisconsin for much of the work he shared.

“When you win an award like this, it’s really because so many great people have worked with you over the years,” he said.

L’Ecuyer shared some notes he scribbled during his first meeting with his adviser, Graeme Stephens, and pointed out that a lot of the elements he still works on today are represented in that original diagram.

“I’m really indebted to my time here at Colorado State and the atmospheric science department for everything I’ve done in my career,” he said.

You can read more about Tristan L’Ecuyer’s career and thoughts he shared with the department here.

December 6, 2021

Congratulations to our Fall 2021 graduates!

The department celebrated fall graduates with a hybrid in-person and Zoom ceremony Nov. 30. Advisers shared information about each graduate, and family and friends were able to attend.

We asked our graduating students about their plans following graduation and the most important thing they learned at CSU. Here are their responses.

Michael Cheeseman

“I will continue working with Jeff and Bonne to investigate air pollutant exposure disparities at the intersection of education, race, and poverty. Then I hope to be an outdoor adventure guide for a couple months.”

“The most important thing I have learned at CSU is to be patient and kind with my own life and career.”

Kyle Chudler

“I accepted a job offer at RTI International as a hydrometeorologist at their water resources office in Fort Collins!”

“The most important thing I learned at CSU Atmos was how important having a great community is. I enjoyed doing my research here, but what made my time in grad school truly special was all of the friends I’ve made and still get to hang out with all of the time!”

Michael DeCaria

Michael will continue on to the Ph.D. program.

“Time management/setting priorities both for life and work. It was especially difficult during the pandemic, making it a hard-learned skill for the future.”

Nick Falk

“I am staying here for a Ph.D.!”

“I’m still in the middle of this, but the most important thing I have learned at CSU is the process of starting with a novel hypothesis/idea and developing it through to a full-fledged research project, then getting the results published in a peer-reviewed journal.”

Wei-Ting Hsiao

“I am and will still be here to continue my Ph.D.!”

“Living a cool life feels way better than being ‘successful.’ “

Allie Mazurek

“I am transitioning into the Ph.D. program, where I will continue working with my adviser (Russ).”

“The most important thing I’ve learned at CSU is the power of having a great support system in both research and non-academic settings.”

Yasutaka Murakami

“I moved back to Japan in August.”

“This is a tough question, but if I have to choose one, I would say time management.”

Chelsea Nam

“I am going to stay here at CSU and continue to work with Michael Bell as a post-doc fellow.”

“This is a hard question! I’d say all the nuts and bolts for tropical cyclone research.”

Jamin Rader

“I am continuing here at CSU in the Ph.D. program.”

“I’ve learned so many important things during my M.S. … I have most appreciated participating in a collaborative data science group, and challenging traditional methods alongside the many other bright minds in the Barnes group.”

Naufal Razin

“I will be moving next door to CIRA as a postdoctoral fellow.”

“This is a tough question because I’ve learned so many things. But if there is one thing that encapsulates my experience at CSU, it is: Surround yourself with great people and you will succeed.”

Justin Whitaker

“NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellowship at NASA Marshall.”

“Your friends and communities are an important part of grad school.”

Kevin Yang

“I will be staying here for my Ph.D. (excited to do more great science).”

“Understand your true value and always remain eager to learn and grow.”

Photo collage, from left to right, top to bottom row: Michael Cheeseman, Kyle Chudler, Michael DeCaria, Nick Falk, Wei-Ting Hsiao, Allie Mazurek, Yasutaka Murakami, Chelsea Nam, Jamin Rader, Naufal Razin, Justin Whitaker and Kevin Yang.

Fall 2021 Graduates

Michael Cheeseman* Ph.D. Adviser: Jeff Pierce
Kyle Chudler* Ph.D. Adviser: Steven Rutledge
Michael DeCaria* M.S. Adviser: Peter Jan van Leeuwen
Nick Falk* M.S. Adviser: Susan van den Heever
Wei-Ting Hsiao M.S. Advisers: Eric Maloney/Elizabeth Barnes
Allie Mazurek M.S. Adviser: Russ Schumacher
Yasutaka Murakami Ph.D. Advisers: Chris Kummerow/Susan van den Heever
Chelsea Nam* Ph.D. Adviser: Michael Bell
Jamin Rader M.S. Adviser: Elizabeth Barnes
Naufal Razin* Ph.D. Adviser: Michael Bell
Justin Whitaker Ph.D. Adviser: Eric Maloney
Kevin Yang M.S. Adviser: Christine Chiu

*Completed defense fall semester but technically will graduate spring semester

December 2, 2021

Kathryn Moore and Ting-Yu Cha awarded Dietrich and Shrake-Culler scholarships

In a hybrid ceremony Tuesday, held in person and on Zoom, Kathryn Moore received the David L. Dietrich Honorary Scholarship and Ting-Yu Cha received the Shrake-Culler Scholarship. After announcement of their awards, Moore and Cha each briefly presented their work.

Moore’s advisers, University Distinguished Professor Sonia Kreidenweis and Senior Research Scientist Paul DeMott, nominated her for the Dietrich Scholarship based on her academic achievement and her skills as an aerosol scientist. Moore works at the intersection of air quality and climate science. During her M.S. studies, she participated in one of the most comprehensive sets of aerosol measurements ever collected over the Southern Ocean, sailing on a ship from Tasmania to the edge of Antarctica. She was responsible for the quality control of all the aerosol measurements on that voyage. Moore has participated in a wide variety of other studies as well.

“There is virtually no project that our group has done in the last three or four years that she hasn’t assisted in one manner or another, and that’s reflected in about 18 co-authored publications already at this stage of her graduate studies,” DeMott said in presenting the award.

The Dietrich Scholarship recognizes a CSU student who has demonstrated outstanding ability in air quality research and education. Fort Collins-based Air Resource Specialists Inc. funds the Dietrich Scholarship each year. It is given in honor of retired ARS President David Dietrich.

Cha was nominated by her adviser, Professor Michael Bell, based on her strong work ethic and enthusiasm for higher education. Her primary research is on radar and tropical meteorology. One of Cha’s papers was selected by the American Geophysical Union as an Editors’ Highlight, a designation given to fewer than 2 percent of AGU journal articles. It also won third place in the Peter B. Wagner Memorial Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences competition.

“She’s one of the hardest working students I’ve known,” Bell said. “In evidence of her enthusiasm for higher education, she took a high-performance computing class on main campus in C++. She was the only female student in the class, the only atmospheric science student, and she got an A. I think she might have gotten the highest grade in the class.”

Bell noted that Cha was instrumental in the PRECIP campaign. “She’s one of the top students I’ve worked with over the years,” he said.

The Shrake-Culler Scholarship is given annually to a senior Ph.D. student. The student must have passed their preliminary exam, have a GPA of 3.5 or above, and demonstrate a strong work ethic and enthusiasm for higher education.

November 30, 2021

Tropical Meteorology Project correctly predicted above-average 2021 hurricane season

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season was above average – in line with forecasts issued by Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project. Twenty-one named storms formed in 2021 (the third most on record), with seven of these storms becoming hurricanes and four reaching major hurricane strength. The average Atlantic hurricane season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. Seven named storms and two hurricanes made landfall in the continental United States, with Hurricane Ida striking the central Louisiana coast as a Category 4 hurricane. In addition to devastating winds and storm surge damage near where Ida made landfall, heavy rain from the hurricane’s remnants also brought catastrophic flooding to the mid-Atlantic states.

“The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season was above average, especially when evaluated by named storm frequency. Overall, our seasonal forecasts did an excellent job of predicting an above-average season, with predictions of hurricanes, major hurricanes and Accumulated Cyclone Energy being very close to what actually occurred,” said Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the forecast. Accumulated Cyclone Energy is an integrated metric accounting for intensity and duration of storms. Seasonal Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) was approximately 120% of the 1991-2020 average.

The report summarizes all tropical cyclone activity in the Atlantic basin during the 2021 hurricane season and compares the team’s seasonal and two-week forecasts to what occurred.

Read the full Source article, “CSU researchers correctly predicted above-average 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.”

November 11, 2021

Tristan L’Ecuyer named 2021 Outstanding Alum

University of Wisconsin professor and director of the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies Tristan L’Ecuyer was selected as the 2021 recipient of the department’s Outstanding Alum Award. He will receive the award and present a seminar on his work Dec. 9 at ATS.

L’Ecuyer earned his Ph.D. from the department in 2001, under the supervision of Graeme Stephens, who is now a professor emeritus. His dissertation was “Uncertainties in Space-Based Estimates of Clouds and Precipitation: Implications for Deriving Global Diabatic Heating.”

Following his Ph.D., L’Ecuyer spent a decade at CSU as a postdoc and research scientist, working extensively on the CloudSat mission. He then joined the faculty of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin.

Since 2018, L’Ecuyer has served as director of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS). In 2020, he led the successful re-competition of CIMSS, ensuring the continuation of this crucial partnership with NOAA in satellite meteorology.

L’Ecuyer’s research lies at the intersection of satellite remote sensing and climate science. He has published more than 150 papers, and his work is widely cited.

L’Ecuyer runs an active research program, including current leadership of the NASA Earth Venture-Instrument PREFIRE (Polar Radiant Energy in the Far Infrared Experiment).

He has graduated nine Ph.D. students in his first decade at Wisconsin and continues to advise a large research group. In 2020, he was honored with the American Geophysical Union Ascent Award.

Note from Tristan:

I want to express my genuine appreciation to everyone in the Department of Atmospheric Science for recognizing me with the Outstanding Alum Award. It is an honor to be counted among the long list of very accomplished scientists that graduated from our department. I am and always will be proud to be a CSU Ram!

I owe my interest in atmospheric science and my enthusiasm for pushing the envelope of what global observations can tell us about our environment to my time at CSU and my adviser Graeme Stephens. Coming from a theoretical physics background, ATS gave me my first true taste of the atmospheric and climate science fields.

I still remember discussing elements of Earth’s energy budget in my first meeting with Graeme. Little did I know I’d still be trying to refine estimates of those quantities more than two decades later! From being able to independently explore ideas to opportunities to interact with leaders in the field, my experience at CSU has been fundamental to shaping my career.

I am also indebted to the many great students and long list of collaborators I’ve been fortunate to work with since leaving the Foothills Campus. I’m especially grateful for my students. This award is really recognition of their hard work, and they, in turn, benefit from ATS as I pass on the lessons I learned during my time at CSU.

It is especially rewarding to now be able to highly recommend the ATS graduate program to our best undergraduate students here at Wisconsin. I hope I’ve prepared them for graduate school as well as CSU prepared me for my career!

Tristan L’Ecuyer

November 8, 2021

Sue van den Heever to lead NASA’s $177M INCUS mission to study storms in the Tropics

NASA has announced a $177 million Earth science mission led by Colorado State University that will study the behavior of storms in the Tropics, with the goal of better representing these storms in weather and climate models.

The mission will be a collection of three small satellites, flying in tight coordination, and is called Investigation of Convective Updrafts (INCUS). It is expected to launch in 2027 as part of NASA’s Earth Venture Program.

INCUS’ principal investigator is Susan van den Heever, professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science, whose expertise is in cloud physics, cloud dynamics, and mesoscale meteorology and modeling. The team includes Kristen Rasmussen, assistant professor in atmospheric science; and Steven Reising, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. CSU’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere will perform data processing for the mission, overseen by Phil Partain.

Read the full Source article, “CSU atmospheric scientists lead $177 million NASA mission to study thunderstorms in the Tropics.”

November 1, 2021

Russ Schumacher’s group develops heavy rainfall forecast tool used nationwide

Researchers in Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science have developed a tool for predicting heavy rainfall that is now used daily by the Weather Prediction Center, part of the National Weather Service.

By working with the Weather Prediction Center over the past several years, Associate Professor Russ Schumacher and his group were able to tailor the tool to suit forecasters’ needs.

Read the full Source article, “From research to real world: CSU atmospheric scientists develop heavy rainfall forecast tool used nationwide.”

Image at top: Example CSU-MLP forecast, for the extreme rainfall associated with the remnants of Hurricane Ida in the mid-Atlantic states in September 2021. The left panel shows the forecast probability of excessive rainfall, available on the morning of Aug. 31, over a day in advance of the event. The forecast includes a “high risk” (probability exceeding 50%) for an area from Maryland through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. The right panel shows the resulting observations of excessive rainfall (including flash flood reports and rainfall totals exceeding specified thresholds). The CSU-MLP correctly highlighted the corridor where widespread heavy rain and flooding would occur.

October 19, 2021

American Geophysical Union honors 4 CSU researchers as 2021 fellows, 2 from ATS

Four Colorado State University researchers in earth and atmospheric sciences are among new Fellows of the American Geophysical Union who have “made outstanding achievements and contributions by pushing the frontiers of our science forward.” AGU is a 62,000-member organization of Earth, atmospheric, ocean, hydrologic, space, and planetary scientists formed in 1919.

AGU Fellows serve as global leaders and experts who have propelled the world’s understanding of geosciences. Since 1962, AGU has elected fewer than 0.1% of its members to join its group of fellows.   

Elizabeth Barnes, associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science, was honored with the AGU James B. Macelwane Medal for early-career scientists this year, for which she was also conferred the title of fellow. 

Read the full Source article, “American Geophysical Union honors four CSU researchers as 2021 fellows.”

October 18, 2021

AGU honors Elizabeth Barnes, Paul DeMott and Wayne Schubert

Three Colorado State University atmospheric scientists have been recognized by the American Geophysical Union. Associate Professor Elizabeth Barnes was selected for the James B. Macelwane Medal, Senior Research Scientist Paul DeMott has been elected a Fellow, and Professor Emeritus Wayne Schubert was chosen to deliver the Jule Gregory Charney Lecture. They will be honored at the AGU Fall Meeting Dec. 15 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Early-career excellence

Barnes will receive the Macelwane Medal for “significant contributions to the geophysical sciences by an outstanding early career scientist.” Along with the medal, the AGU also will confer fellowship to Barnes.

DeMott’s work ‘groundbreaking and influential’

DeMott, an international leader in the study of ice nucleation and aerosol-cloud interactions, was elected an AGU Fellow for his research achievements and outstanding contributions to the field.

Making the complex understandable

The Charney Lecture is presented to a prominent scientist who has made exceptional contributions to the understanding of weather and climate. Schubert, now retired from teaching but not research after 47 years with the department, has made pioneering discoveries in his research of tropical cyclones, moist convection, and the dynamics of mesoscale and synoptic-scale phenomena.

Read the full Source article, “American Geophysical Union honors atmospheric scientists Elizabeth Barnes, Paul DeMott, Wayne Schubert.”

October 12, 2021

NOAA funds air quality studies by Amy Sullivan, Ilana Pollack, Emily Fischer, Jeff Pierce

Amy Sullivan, Ilana Pollack, Associate Professor Emily Fischer and Professor Jeff Pierce will study urban emissions and air quality as part of $2.2 million in grants received by CSU researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Climate Program Office at NOAA has announced research funding that increases understanding of emissions – and chemical transformation of those emissions – in the urban atmosphere. Four of the 10 new projects have gone to Colorado State University researchers, totaling over $2.2 million to CSU.

The federal research program, called Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle, and Climate, competitively selected projects that total $5.48 million in grants.

Read the full Source article, “Emissions, air quality and heat in urban areas: CSU researchers receive over $2.2 million.”

October 8, 2021

Emily Fischer receives Jon C. Graff, Ph.D. Prize for Excellence in Science Communication

Emily Fischer, associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science and a Colorado State University Monfort Professor, has received the Jon C. Graff, Ph.D. Prize for Excellence in Science Communication from the Society for Science.

The Society for Science is a nonprofit organization that promotes the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement.

Now in its third year, the award is given to one scientist included in the Science News SN 10, a list spotlighting 10 early- and mid-career scientists on their way to widespread acclaim. The Society for Science publishes both Science News and Science News for Students.

In 2021, rather than identify new scientists, Science News spotlighted 10 noteworthy SN 10 alumni. Fischer, who was included in the 2020 SN 10 list, was featured in the Oct. 9 special edition of Science News and will be featured again in the Oct. 23 edition.

Read the full Source article, “Emily Fischer to receive Jon C. Graff, Ph.D. Prize for Excellence in Science Communication.”

October 5, 2021

Prof. Randall: Nobel winners made global warming predictions, modern modeling possible

Professor David Randall wrote this piece for The Conversation. Colorado State University is a contributing institution to The Conversation, an independent collaboration between editors and academics that provides informed news analysis and commentary to the general public.

As a climate scientist myself, I was excited to learn that Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi have been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics. I first met Manabe when I was a graduate student in the early 1970s, so I was particularly pleased that the prize recognizes the profound importance of Manabe’s decadeslong work on the creation of climate models, as well as the application of those models to understand how increasing levels of greenhouse gases have led to global warming.

How complicated is the weather and climate system?

Weather is what you see hour to hour and day to day. Weather involves just the atmosphere. Climate is the average weather over decades and is influenced by the oceans and the land surfaces.

Weather and climate are complicated because they involve many different physical processes – from the motion of air to the flow of electromagnetic radiation, such as sunlight, to the condensation of water vapor – across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales.

Read the full article, “Winners of 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics built mathematics of climate modeling, making predictions of global warming and modern weather forecasting possible.”

Image at top: The Earth’s weather and climate interactions form one of the most complex systems imaginable.
NASA/Joshua Stevens/Earth Observatory via Flickr, CC BY-NC

October 1, 2021

Hurricane forecast author Phil Klotzbach to speak at FORTCAST event Oct. 12

Phil Klotzbach, research scientist and lead author of CSU’s annual hurricane forecast, will speak at FORTCAST’s first “What’s Brewing in Weather and Climate” event this semester. Klotzbach will discuss hurricanes, how we predict them and the impacts of climate change.

Discussion followed by Q-and-A will begin 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, upstairs at Tap & Handle.

“What’s Brewing in Weather and Climate” is a series of informal talks where you can meet fellow members of the Northern Colorado weather and climate community and learn about their research.

FORTCAST is a local chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Contact with questions.

“The 2021 Atlantic Basin Hurricane Season and the Relationship between Hurricanes and Climate Change”

This presentation will discuss the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season in detail including the atmospheric and oceanic causes of this very active season. Landfalling hurricane activity in 2021 will also be examined, with a focus on Hurricane Ida – a $50+ billion natural disaster. The skill of seasonal forecasts issued by CSU, NOAA and other groups will also be considered.
The remainder of the presentation will examine the relationship between hurricanes and climate change. Topics will include observed trends in hurricane frequency, intensity and damage. Lastly, climate model forecasts of future changes in hurricane activity associated with continued global climate change will be discussed.
September 30, 2021

Jeff Collett group, Ajax Analytics monitoring air quality for Town of Erie

Residents of Erie, Colorado now have access to detailed data about the air they’re breathing, thanks to a sophisticated air quality monitoring network deployed by Colorado State University atmospheric scientists and environmental data company Ajax Analytics.

The Town of Erie recently announced the launch of a public portal to view data collected by the monitoring stations, which were deployed in phases over the summer as part of the town’s Air Quality Monitoring Program. A map of the monitoring station locations is available on the town’s website.

Jeff Collett, professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science and a respected researcher in air toxics emissions from oil and gas operations, is leading CSU’s data collection and analysis as part of a contract with the Town of Erie. Collett’s team works in close partnership with Ajax Analytics, a Fort Collins-based firm that provides sensitive and real-time air quality data and maintains public-friendly dashboards to report the information to non-scientists.

Read the full Source story, “How’s the air in Erie, Colorado? CSU scientists deploy pollution monitoring for residents.”

Image at top: Publicly available data from air quality monitoring sites in Erie, Colorado. Credit: Ajax Analytics

September 24, 2021

Sonia Kreidenweis, Paul DeMott co-lead $12.5 million NSF aerobiome project

Several researchers from the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering will study microbes in the air, or the aerobiome, as part of a new $12.5 million National Science Foundation project.

The Biology Integration Institutes: Regional OneHealth Aerobiome Discovery Network, or BROADN – including atmospheric scientists, agricultural biologists, microbiologists and sociologists from across Colorado State University – aims to improve our fundamental understanding of the aerobiome during this five-year project.

The aerobiome plays an important role in human, animal, plant and overall ecosystem health. Bacteria in clouds can even influence precipitation, but we don’t yet understand how weather, seasons and environmental stresses such as drought, agriculture and fire affect these microorganisms in the air.

BROADN plans to gather enough data through their joint effort to inform predictive models and mitigation strategies for problems as critical as the airborne transport of pathogens.

Read the full Source article, “Atmospheric scientists, engineering faculty co-lead $12.5 million NSF aerobiome project.”

Photo at top: Russell Perkins examines instruments atop a tower at the Central Plains Experimental Range, one of the NSF NEON sites University Distinguished Professor Sonia Kreidenweis and Senior Research Scientist Paul DeMott’s group will use for the BROADN project.

September 8, 2021

Bill Cotton explains how wildfire burn scars can intensify and even create thunderstorms

Professor Emeritus Bill Cotton wrote this piece for The Conversation. Colorado State University is a contributing institution to The Conversation, an independent collaboration between editors and academics that provides informed news analysis and commentary to the general public.

Wildfires burn millions of acres of land every year, leaving changed landscapes that are prone to flooding. Less well known is that these already vulnerable regions can also intensify and in some cases initiate thunderstorms.

Wildfire burn scars are often left with little vegetation and with a darker soil surface that tends to repel rather than absorb water. These changes in vegetation and soil properties leave the land more susceptible to flooding and erosion, so less rainfall is necessary to produce a devastating flood and debris flow than in an undisturbed environment.

Burn scars can also initiate or invigorate thunderstorms, raising the risk both of flooding and of lightning that could spark more fires in surrounding areas, as my research with fellow atmospheric scientist Elizabeth Page has shown.

Read the full article, “Wildfire burn scars can intensify and even create thunderstorms that lead to catastrophic flooding – here’s how it works.”

Photo at top: Burn scars from California wine country’s 2019 Kincade Fire are still evident in 2021.
Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

September 7, 2021

AMS honors Steven Rutledge, Melissa Burt and Richard Johnson

Three members of Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science will be honored at the 102nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting Jan. 23-27 in Houston. Professor Steven Rutledge will receive the Verner E. Suomi Technology Medal, and Melissa Burt, Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering assistant dean for diversity and inclusion, will receive the Charles E. Anderson Award. The meeting also will feature a symposium named for Professor Emeritus Richard Johnson.

“We continue to be grateful to the American Meteorological Society for recognizing the excellence in the Colorado State University Atmospheric Science department,” said David McLean, dean of the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering. “Our researchers and emeritus faculty have set the standard for addressing pressing issues related to climate change and understanding of the atmosphere.”

Read the full Source article, “American Meteorological Society honors CSU atmospheric scientists Steven Rutledge, Melissa Burt and Richard Johnson.”

September 3, 2021

Jeff Pierce named Professor of the Year

Professor Jeff Pierce was selected as the Professor of the Year for the 2020-21 academic year, based on evaluations by students, administered by the department’s graduate representatives. Students fill out surveys for each course throughout the year, and grad reps then determine which professor received the most feedback for teaching excellence.

Grad rep Kimberley Corwin presented Pierce with the award Sept. 1 at the New Student Welcome Picnic. Corwin shared highlights from the evaluations, praising Pierce’s “hands-on, engaging teaching style that easily facilitates learning” and adaptability and innovation around teaching during COVID.

“He promotes a healthy learning environment that inspires students to participate and ask questions,” Corwin said.

Students noted that Pierce conveys both his interest in the subject and in student success.

Pierce teaches Intro to Air Pollution, and he incorporated topical events such as COVID and wildfires into the course.

“I am so proud of this department and how we’ve worked together to help each other over the past 18 months,” Pierce said.

He praised the faculty, students and staff for working so hard to adapt quickly during the pandemic, and expressed his gratitude for the students’ strength and perseverance.

“In particular, to the students who moved to Fort Collins during the pandemic, I hope you all appreciate what you have accomplished,” Pierce said.

This is the second time Pierce has been chosen for the award; he also was honored in 2018.

Department gathers again for annual picnic welcoming new students

An annual tradition found its way back into our routine Sept. 1 when the department welcomed its incoming graduate students with a picnic at Spring Canyon Park. Last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic.

Faculty introduced their new students and shared a little about the research each will be doing. It was a good opportunity to take a photo of the incoming class (above) as well as last year’s cohort (below).

Photo at top: Fall 2021 incoming class. Front row, left to right: Tyler Barbero, Jack Cahill, Christine Neumaier, Yiyu Zheng, Zaibeth Carlo-Frontera, En Li and Nico Gordillo. Middle row, left to right: Casey Zoellick, Anindita Chakraborty, Weixin Zhang, Zoe Douglas, Olivia Sablan, Erin (Lexi) Sherman and Amanda Bowden. Back row, left to right: Brian Heffernan, Dhyey Solanki, James Larson, Andrey Marsavin, Jon Thielen, Ben Ascher, Joe Kelly, Spencer Jones, Emily Lill and Ivy Glade.

2020 incoming students

Fall 2020 incoming class. Front row, left to right: Daniel Veloso Águila, Ann Casey Hughes, Charlotte (Charlie) Connolly, Gabrielle Leung, Emily Gordon, Madison Shogrin and Kimberley Corwin. Back row, left to right: Daniel Hueholt, Nicolas Leitmann-Niimi, Kyle Shackelford, Nicole June, Marc Alessi, Ryan Patnaude and Weixin Zhang.

At the picnic, we also had the good fortune to meet talented photographer Abdulaziz Yusufjanov (970.690.2580), who took the excellent photos in the gallery below.

Kimberley Corwin Department Head Jeff Collett Zaibeth Carlo-Frontera and Amanda Bowden Professors Sonia Kreidenweis, Tom Vonder Haar, Jim Hurrell and Maria Rugenstein Professor Emeritus Bill Cotton and his wife2020 incoming students

September 2, 2021

Russ Schumacher provides context for Hurricane Ida’s record-breaking rainfall

Colorado State Climatologist and Professor Russ Schumacher wrote this piece for The Conversation. Colorado State University is a contributing institution to The Conversation, an independent collaboration between editors and academics that provides informed news analysis and commentary to the general public.

Record downpours from Hurricane Ida overwhelmed cities across the Northeast on Sept. 1, 2021, hitting some with more than 3 inches of rain an hour. Water poured into subway stations in New York City, and streets flooded up to the rooftops of cars in Philadelphia. The storm had already wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast after hitting Louisiana three days earlier as a Category 4 hurricane.

Ida had weakened well below hurricane strength by the time it reached the Northeast, so how did it still cause so much rain?

Two major factors likely contributed to its extended extreme rainfall.

First, Ida’s tropical moisture interacted with developing warm and cold fronts.

Second, evidence is mounting that, as the climate warms, the amount of precipitation from heavy rainstorms is increasing, especially in the central and eastern U.S.

Read the full article, “Hurricane Ida: 2 reasons for its record-shattering rainfall in NYC and the Northeast long after the winds weakened.”

Image at top: Rainfall totals over 24 hours, Sept. 1-2, 2021. CoCoRaHS Mapping System

August 30, 2021

William Cotton selected for elite honor by cloud physics organization

Professor Emeritus William Cotton has been chosen for an honor given to only one member of the cloud physics community every four years. He has been elected as an Honorary Member of the International Commission on Clouds and Precipitation, an organization based in the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences.

Every four years, the commission organizes the International Conference on Clouds and Precipitation, a top forum for atmospheric scientists to share their research on clouds and precipitation, in Pune, India. Cotton has attended the conference since the early 1970s. This year he spoke at the virtual event in August and accepted his award acknowledging his “career of outstanding scientific contributions to cloud and precipitation physics.”

Cotton joined CSU’s atmospheric science faculty in 1974. He has received numerous honors from the college and university over the years, including the Engineering Dean’s Council Award for excellence in atmospheric research, the Abell Faculty Research Graduate Program Support Award, the Research Foundation Researcher of the Year Award, and the Jack Cermak Distinguished Advisor Award. His Ph.D. alma mater, Penn State University, gave him the Charles L. Hosler Alumni Scholar Award, and the Weather Modification Association presented him with the Schaefer Award for scientific and technological discoveries that constituted a major contribution to the advancement of weather modification.

Cotton is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA). He has published more than 190 papers in peer-reviewed journals and authored nine book chapters, one book, and a memoir, and co-authored two additional books. He considers the most significant achievement of his career to be advising students, including 44 Ph.D.s, 44 M.S. students and 12 postdocs.

August 10, 2021

Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano named UCAR Next Generation Fellow

Ph.D. student Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano has been selected as a 2021 Next Generation Fellow by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). She was awarded the Earth Science fellowship as part of the program’s fifth cohort.

The Next Generation Fellowship gives financial and academic support to Earth system science students from historically underrepresented groups. UCAR will support the fellows with two years of graduate school funding. The fellows also will receive professional development and experience through summer internships with UCAR and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). You can more about the fellowship and its three 2021 recipients here.

During the first summer, Juncosa Calahorrano will work with Alessandro Franchin and her CSU mentors to use a commercially available inertial inlet to separate particle- from gas-phase reactive nitrogen to get a true gas-phase measurement of oxidized nitrogen (NOy). The second summer, she will work with Gabriele Pfister on incorporating observations from the Transformation and Transportation of Ammonia (TRAN2AM) field intensive into the Weather Research and Forecasting model with chemistry (WRF-chem) to aid the interpretation of the observations and to validate and improve model outputs and parameterization.

“I am super excited for this opportunity and look forward to working with Ale and Gabi and getting to know the NCAR family better,” Juncosa Calahorrano said.

In her home of Quito, Ecuador, Juncosa Calahorrano was inspired to study environmental engineering as a solution to pollution of the local water and atmosphere. Her goal has been to better understand the processes that lead to pollution of natural systems and the ways informed policies can improve ecosystem and societal well-being. In particular, she was drawn to study air quality and atmospheric science.

Juncosa Calahorrano earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), and a master’s degree in atmospheric science from Colorado State University (CSU). Now Juncosa Calahorrano is working toward her doctorate at CSU, where her research focuses on investigating the impacts and effects of reactive nitrogen in the atmosphere from wildfire smoke plumes and concentrated animal feeding operations. Her career goals are to be a professor and mentor the next generation of rising scientists while also making the atmospheric chemistry research in Latin America more globally visible.

During her fellowship, Juncosa Calahorrano will be utilizing the expertise and resources available at NCAR’s atmospheric chemistry laboratory for instrumentation testing and modeling capabilities.

“This fellowship will allow me to learn from a group of world-class scientists specializing in both atmospheric chemistry instrumentation and regional modeling,” said Juncosa Calahorrano. “Our goal is to develop a new technique that will better measure oxidized nitrogen, as well as incorporate measurements from a recent field campaign into an atmospheric chemistry model. This will ultimately help improve our knowledge of the impacts of reactive nitrogen.”

August 6, 2021

Ting-Yu Cha receives third place in Wagner Memorial Award competition

Ph.D. student Ting-Yu Cha received third place in the Peter B. Wagner Memorial Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences competition. The paper she submitted, “Polygonal Eyewall Asymmetries During the Rapid Intensification of Hurricane Michael (2018),” highlights the importance of coastal radar observations with high temporal resolution and the single Doppler radar wind retrieval algorithm, which can help to improve tropical cyclone intensity forecasts and investigate real-time TC intensity and structure changes. This paper also was selected as an Editors’ Highlight by Eos in 2020. Cha’s co-authors on the paper were her adviser, Professor Michael Bell, Wen-Chau Lee and Alex DesRosiers.

“I would not have accomplished the work without Michael’s guidance and Wen-Chau’s and Alex’s contributions,” Cha said. “I am grateful that the research and my graduate experiences as a female international student were acknowledged by the selection committee, which motivates me even more to improve our scientific understanding of tropical cyclones.”

August 5, 2021

Tropical Meteorology Project continues to predict active 2021 Atlantic hurricane season

Colorado State University hurricane researchers have reduced their forecast slightly but continue to call for an above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2021, citing the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor.

Sea surface temperatures averaged across the tropical Atlantic and Caribbean are now warmer than normal. A warmer than normal tropical Atlantic and Caribbean is considered favorable for an active 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, since a warmer than normal tropical Atlantic provides more fuel for developing storms.

The tropical eastern and central Pacific currently has cool neutral El Niño-Southern Oscillation conditions, that is, the water temperatures are slightly below average. CSU researchers anticipate that these waters are likely to remain cooler than normal for the remainder of the Atlantic hurricane season. Consequently, they believe that El Niño is extremely unlike this year.

Read the full Source article, “CSU researchers continue to predict active 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.”

August 4, 2021

Scott Denning: Earth’s energy budget is out of balance – here’s how that’s warming the climate

Professor Scott Denning wrote this piece for The Conversation. Colorado State University is a contributing institution to The Conversation, an independent collaboration between editors and academics that provides informed news analysis and commentary to the general public.

You probably remember your grade school science teachers explaining that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. That’s a fundamental property of the universe.

Energy can be transformed, however. When the Sun’s rays reach Earth, they are transformed into random motions of molecules that you feel as heat. At the same time, Earth and the atmosphere are sending radiation back into space. The balance between the incoming and outgoing energy is known as Earth’s “energy budget.”

Our climate is determined by these energy flows. When the amount of energy coming in is more than the energy going out, the planet warms up.

Read the full article, “Earth’s energy budget is out of balance – here’s how that’s warming the climate.”

The Sun over Earth, seen from the International Space Station. NASA, CC BY-NC

July 30, 2021

Is climate change to blame for recent weather disasters? Professor Scott Denning explains

Professor Scott Denning wrote this piece for The Conversation. Colorado State University is a contributing institution to The Conversation, an independent collaboration between editors and academics that provides informed news analysis and commentary to the general public.

Summer isn’t even half over, and we’ve seen heat waves in the Pacific Northwest and Canada with temperatures that would make news in Death Valley, enormous fires that have sent smoke across North America, and lethal floods of biblical proportions in Germany and China. Scientists have warned for over 50 years about increases in extreme events arising from subtle changes in average climate, but many people have been shocked by the ferocity of recent weather disasters.

A couple of things are important to understand about climate change’s role in extreme weather like this.

First, humans have pumped so much carbon dioxide and other planet-warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that what’s “normal” has shifted. Extreme heat waves that were once ridiculously improbable are on their way to becoming more commonplace, and unimaginable events are becoming possible.

Second, not every extreme weather event is connected to global warming.

Read the full article, “Extreme heat waves in a warming world don’t just break records – they shatter them.”

July 20, 2021

‘No such thing as too much math’: Ellie Casas teaches engineering math program

Ellie Casas, a doctoral candidate in the Atmospheric Science department, is working this summer as one of the instructors of the ENcourage Engineering Math Program, which is intended to help incoming first-year students be calculus-ready. Engineering Source talked with Casas about the experience.

How did you get involved with this program?

I was recommended for this position after having been a Graduate Teaching Fellow in Fall 2020 for ENGR-101: Grand Challenges of Engineering. This course is designed to help first-year engineering students understand what the differences are between each engineering major at CSU, as well as learn about the largest societal challenges that need new and innovative engineering. ENGR-101 is a great course for those who want to make more informed decisions about which engineering major is right for them, and I found that ENGR-101 is a course that meets the gold standard of effective teaching due in part to its student-led design project. I had a great time learning how to teach first-year engineering students in the most effective ways for both in-person and remote instruction methods, and it was very rewarding to watch as students gained confidence in their engineering and teamwork skills and discover their vocations.

Read the full Source interview, “Five questions with Ellie Casas, ENcourage Engineering Math Program instructor.”

July 13, 2021

Marqi Rocque receives NASA Future Investigators fellowship

Marqi Rocque has been selected for a Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) fellowship. Her proposal was one of 58 selected out of 351 submitted for the Earth science division of the FINESST competition.

Rocque will work with her adviser, Assistant Professor Kristen Rasmussen, to investigate the relationship between storm electrification, kinematics and microphysics and provide insight into how satellite-based lightning observations from the Geostationary Lightning Mapper can improve forecasts and the predictability of severe weather. They also will explore the impacts a warming climate will have on storm location, duration and intensity in subtropical South America.

“Having this award gives me the flexibility to explore a new topic that I have always been interested in but haven’t been able to study,” Rocque said. “I am looking forward to learning about different and novel ways of observing and modeling the electrical properties of severe storms, especially in subtropical South America where some of the most intense thunderstorms on Earth are known to occur.”

June 14, 2021

Steven Miller named new CIRA director and department professor

Research scientist and Colorado State University alumnus Steven Miller has been named director of CIRA, the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere. Miller will hold a joint appointment as professor in the CSU Department of Atmospheric Science.

As one of 15 cooperative institutes partnering with NOAA, CIRA works with the department to conduct cutting-edge atmospheric science research that benefits the nation. CIRA’s research encompasses satellite meteorology, numerical forecasting, tropical storm prediction, air quality monitoring and data dissemination.

Miller has led important research initiatives, developed new programs and pursued new avenues for funding as CIRA’s deputy director since 2007. In August, he will replace the current director, Christian Kummerow, who is stepping down after 11 years to focus on his research as a CIRA Fellow and professor in Atmospheric Science.

Read the full Source article, “Steven Miller named new director of Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere.”

June 3, 2021

Tropical Meteorology Project continues to predict active 2021 Atlantic hurricane season

Colorado State University hurricane researchers are maintaining their forecast for an above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2021, citing the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor. Sea surface temperatures averaged across portions of the tropical Atlantic are near normal, while the subtropical Atlantic is much warmer than average. This type of sea surface temperature configuration is also considered favorable for an active 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

The tropical eastern and central Pacific currently has cool neutral ENSO conditions, that is, the water temperatures are slightly below average. CSU researchers anticipate that these waters will likely remain near average for the Atlantic hurricane season. Consequently, they believe that El Niño is extremely unlike this year. El Niño tends to increase upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes as they try to form.

While the tropical Atlantic currently has water temperatures near their long-term averages, the warmer-than-normal subtropical Atlantic typically forces a weaker subtropical high and associated weaker winds blowing across the tropical Atlantic. These conditions then lead to warmer waters in the tropical Atlantic for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Read the full Source article, “CSU researchers continue to predict active 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.”

May 26, 2021

Maria Rugenstein receives NASA New Investigator grant

Assistant Professor Maria Rugenstein has been selected to receive a NASA grant to support her early-career research. Her project is among the 38 NASA will fund through its New Investigator Program in Earth Science, out of 238 submitted.

Rugenstein will use her grant to study a key element for predicting climate change. She will examine how radiative feedbacks might change in time. Radiative feedbacks are processes that balance excess heat in the atmosphere.

Recently, scientists have found that radiative feedbacks depend on surface temperature patterns and are not constant in time as assumed for several decades. While this “pattern effect” has been simulated and understood in climate models, it has not been observed in the real world – mostly because radiative feedbacks are hard to quantify. To do so requires accurate long-term observations of both sea surface temperature patterns and top-of-the-atmosphere radiative imbalance, the difference between solar energy absorbed by Earth and the amount radiated back to space. 

Rugenstein will use the 20-year record of NASA’s radiation measurements to compare observations to climate models.

“The observational record is likely too short to detect the effect, but we will try hard to detect it,” Rugenstein said. “The idea is to compare observations and climate models on equal footing by accurately sampling the internal variability of climate models. One major problem is that we do not know how small errors in the models’ ocean-atmosphere interaction might influence the top-of-the-atmosphere radiation.”

A better understanding of the interaction between surface temperature and the top-of-atmosphere radiative imbalance in the observations will help us improve climate models, understand their limits and ideally constrain projections of climate change into the future.  

Rugenstein, who joined CSU’s faculty last year from the Max Planck Institute in Germany, is excited to work with NASA and satellite data on her first U.S. grant.

May 25, 2021

Chelsea Nam wins presentation award at international conference

Ph.D. candidate Chelsea Nam received the Best Student Oral Presentation Award from the 14th International Conference on Mesoscale Convective Systems and High-Impact Weather in East Asia (ICMCS-XIV). Nam’s presentation, “Bifurcation Points for Tropical Cyclone Genesis in Sheared and Dry Environments,” was co-authored by her adviser, Professor Michael Bell, and Dandan Tao, a former research scientist in the Bell group.

Nam presented her research virtually to the hybrid format conference in Nanjing, China. The 10-hour time difference meant the conference started at 6:30 p.m. local time.

Nam was excited to share her results and receive feedback from colleagues.

“I realized I have been missing opportunities to interact with fellow scientists and just how important these conferences are to motivate and encourage graduate students like me,” Nam said.

“I am so grateful for this award, especially because the research that went into the presentation was not the easiest task for me. … It was my first time dealing with very large WRF ensemble data sets – a definite learning-curve experience.”

May 18, 2021

Naufal Razin and Jon Martinez earn awards at AMS conference

Naufal Razin and Jon Martinez received awards at the 34th AMS Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology on May 14. Razin won the first-place student poster award for “Tropical Cyclone Precipitation, Infrared, Microwave, and Environmental Dataset (TC PRIMED).” Martinez won the second-place student poster award for “Characterizing the Nature and Evolution of Asymmetric Structures in Idealized Simulations of Rapidly Intensifying Tropical Cyclones,” as well as the conference’s top award, the Max Eaton Student Prize for “On the Contributions of Incipient Vortex Circulation and Environmental Moisture to Tropical Cyclone Expansion.”

The Max Eaton Prize is given every two years for the outstanding combination of presentation and paper at the AMS Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology. The prize was established to recognize Max A. Eaton’s lifelong contributions to tropical meteorology and the encouragement he gave to young researchers.

“It’s an honor to have two of my research projects acknowledged with such valuable awards at the Hurricane Conference,” Martinez said. “Both awards represent the culmination of collaborative research projects, and I’m grateful that our ideas are permeating throughout the community!”

Co-authors on Razin’s poster included Chris Slocum, Paula Brown and John Knaff, and Chelsea Nam co-authored Martinez’ Max Eaton paper and presentation.

“These awards would not have been possible without their significant contributions,” Professor Michael Bell, Razin’s and Martinez’ adviser, acknowledged the co-authors. Bell noted that TC PRIMED was supported by an ATS/CIRA PRSE grant.

“This project is a heavily collaborative effort, and I couldn’t have done it without my TC PRIMED team from ATS and CIRA,” Razin said.

May 17, 2021

Kevin Barry and Jennie Bukowski receive department honors for student research

Kevin Barry and Jennie Bukowski were honored for outstanding student research in a virtual ceremony May 14. Barry received the Herbert Riehl Memorial Award for his paper, “Observations of Ice Nucleating Particles in the Free Troposphere From Western US Wildfires,” based on his research from the WE-CAN wildfire smoke campaign. Bukowski received the Alumni Award for “Dust Radiative Effects in Haboobs,” based on her Ph.D. research on the lofting and transport of mineral dust, dust radiation interactions, and the representation of these processes in numerical models.

Barry was nominated by his advisers, University Distinguished Professor Sonia Kreidenweis and Senior Research Scientist Paul DeMott, and also by Research Scientist Tom Hill. DeMott presented Barry with his award.

“Some things that characterize Kevin since he has joined our department are his willingness and fearlessness in diving into any task, his desire to learn, and his always seeking to be helpful,” DeMott said.

DeMott noted that the groundbreaking nature of Barry’s work was recognized in a research spotlight by AGU’s Eos. Barry also presented his work in the CSU Graduate Showcase, which led to his invitation to the university-wide three-minute thesis challenge. Based on his presentation, “Can wildfires influence ice in clouds?,” Barry was awarded a Vice President for Research Graduate Fellowship.

“The novelty of Kevin’s work is that no one had previously performed systematic and comprehensive measurements of the role of wildfires in generating and lofting these cloud-active aerosols at plume-injection heights where they actually enter clouds,” DeMott said.

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

The Alumni Award recognizes outstanding Ph.D. research by a senior student. In Professor Sue van den Heever’s introduction of this year’s recipient, she kept Bukowski’s identity secret for as long as possible, a department tradition.

“This student’s scientific mantra really is twofold: to ensure that you conduct the best science possible and then to apply that science to enhance societal benefits,” van den Heever said. “While most of us believe that this twofold approach is important, many of us end up focusing on either the first or the second of these goals. This student really actively strives to achieve both of those goals.”

van den Heever recognized Bukowski’s work as highly interdisciplinary, given the importance of dust to human health, radiation, ocean fertilization and ice nucleation.

“Jennie has made some really novel and original contributions to the field by examining the interaction of radiation with the large amounts of dust transported within haboobs, as well as the role played by land surface processes in determining haboob intensity,” van den Heever said. “This research has not only enhanced our theoretical understanding of haboob processes, but has also contributed to the way in which we represent haboobs in models.”

Barry and Bukowski each gave a brief technical presentation on their research following announcement of their awards.

May 14, 2021

Congratulations to our Spring and Summer 2021 graduates!

The department celebrated spring and summer graduates with a Zoom ceremony May 14. Advisers shared information about each graduate, and family and friends were able to attend.

We asked our graduating students about their plans following graduation and the most important thing they learned at CSU. Here are their responses.

Ali Akherati

“I am a postdoc at University of California, Davis.”

“I learned how to live, not just how to do science and how important other aspects of life are. Being successful is not just being good at your work but also how to be a useful person in different aspects in society. Having a good work-life balance makes you a better person and more successful. I got a new family, friends and life in Fort Collins.”

Jennie Bukowski

“I’m a postdoc with the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, working at NCAR with Daniel Swain and James Done researching spatially/temporally connected extreme precipitation events.”

“That science can and should be kind. After all, we’re humans first and scientists second.”

Jhordanne Jones

“I’m heading to a postdoctoral position at Purdue University to work with Dan Chavas’ group.”

“The most important thing I learned at CSU was that a strong, supportive community makes good science. I really appreciated being a part of the Atmos community and learned from so many experts and fellow students while here.”

Drew Koeritzer

“I am employed as a meteorologist for the National Weather Service at the Lubbock, TX forecast office.”

“The value of learning from and engaging with others. Teamwork and collaboration really are crucial to success!”

Michael Needham

“I am continuing on to the Ph.D. program, still in Dave Randall’s group.”

“The most important thing I learned is the value of building relationships, especially when you tend to be introverted.”

Casey Patrizio

“In September I am very excited to be starting a postdoc position at the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change (CMCC) in Bologna, Italy.”

“Among many important things I learned during my time at CSU was the value of balance in life (this is also still very much an ongoing process).”

Kate O’Dell

“I am starting a post-doc at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in August.”

“I’ve learned so much at CSU! I think one of the most important lessons for me was to not be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know,’ and ask questions. Asking the right questions with the right people is how great research happens.”

Kristen Van Valkenburg

“Still at CSU through the summer and on the job hunt now!”

“Teamwork! Classes/homework are best accomplished with many minds working to solve problems. Research is also always a team effort, so I learned to ask for help when I needed it and tried to be there when others needed me.”

Photo collage: From left to right, top to bottom row, Ali Akherati, Jennie Bukowski, Jhordanne Jones, Drew Koeritzer, Michael Needham, Lance Niño, Kate O’Dell, Casey Patrizio and Kristen Van Valkenburg.

Spring 2021 Graduates

Ali Akherati Ph.D. Advisers: Shantanu Jathar/Jeff Pierce
Jennie Bukowski Ph.D. Adviser: Sue van den Heever
Adam Clayton* M.S. Adviser: Steven Rutledge
Drew Koeritzer M.S. Adviser: Chris Kummerow
Yoonjin Lee* Ph.D. Advisers: Chris Kummerow/Milija Zupanski
Alex Naegele* Ph.D. Adviser: David Randall
Michael Needham M.S. Adviser: David Randall

*Recognized in fall ceremony

Summer 2021 Graduates

Jhordanne Jones Ph.D. Adviser: Michael Bell
Lance Niño M.S. Adviser: Sonia Kreidenweis
Kate O’Dell Ph.D. Advisers: Jeff Pierce/Emily Fischer
Casey Patrizio Ph.D. Advisers: David Randall/David Thompson
Kristen Van Valkenburg M.S. Advisers: Steven Rutledge/Sue van den Heever
May 11, 2021

Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano and Lilly Naimie receive AWMA scholarships

The Air & Waste Management Association awarded scholarships to two department students this year. Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano and Lilly Naimie were recognized for their exceptional air quality research and studies. In addition to receiving financial support for their educational pursuits, they each will be granted a one-year membership in the association. They also will be honored virtually in an awards ceremony June 16.

“It is extremely exciting to get opportunities to keep working in air quality research,” Juncosa Calahorrano said. “The Air & Waste Management Association does great work on air quality research and provides amazing opportunities for young scientists to thrive in their research careers. I am extremely grateful for this recognition that motivates me even more to keep researching air quality on the Colorado Front Range. Thanks to Emily Fischer for being an amazing adviser and to Jeffrey Pierce for being a great mentor.”

Naimie plans to use the funds to further her work with Professor Jeff Collett’s group to investigate the impact of ammonia emitted in the eastern Colorado plains on nitrogen deposition in Rocky Mountain National Park.

“Our hope is that with a better understanding of ammonia deposition in the park, we can help get Rocky beneath the critical load for nitrogen deposition and protect our national park land,” Naimie said. “I feel honored to be recognized by the AWMA. I am new to this community and looking forward to being a part of a group focused on protecting the environment from harmful pollutants.”

May 7, 2021

Russ Schumacher and Becky Bolinger explain new ‘climate normal’ datasets

Colorado State Climatologist Russ Schumacher and Assistant State Climatologist Becky Bolinger wrote this piece for The Conversation. Colorado State University is a contributing institution to The Conversation, an independent collaboration between editors and academics that provides informed news analysis and commentary to the general public.

Anyone who listens to weather reports has heard meteorologists comment that yesterday’s temperature was 3 degrees above normal, or last month was much drier than normal. But what does “normal” mean in this context – and in a world in which the climate is changing?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released updated “climate normals” – datasets that the agency produces every 10 years to give forecasters and the public baseline measurements of average temperature, rainfall and other conditions across the U.S. As the state climatologist and assistant state climatologist for Colorado, we work with this information all the time. Here’s what climate normals are, how they’ve changed, and how you can best make sense of them.

Read the full article “Warming is clearly visible in new US ‘climate normal’ datasets.”

May 6, 2021

President’s Council on Culture recognizes Melissa Burt as agent of change

When the President’s Council on Culture put out its call for nominations for notable contributions to the culture of Colorado State University, the response was a bright light in what has been an especially difficult year amid the ongoing pandemic.

Nominations for the Culture Award, part of Celebrate! Colorado State, started pouring in, with peers recognizing numerous individuals and units for going above and beyond to effect culture change at CSU. That made for a very difficult deliberation for council members, but PCC Chair and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Sue James said it was a good position to be in because it revealed just how much work is being done across CSU.

“It was impressive to see the number of submissions and to read the passionate cases made for recognizing nominated faculty, staff and units. As we read through the nominations, it was clear we were not going to be able to select just one award recipient as we had intended,” James said. “There were just so many who were deserving to be recognized, but Melissa Burt and the WGAC staff stood out as major agents of change.”

Read the full Source article, “President’s Council on Culture recognizes WGAC, Melissa Burt as agents of change.”

May 5, 2021

Scott Denning explains how cleaning up coolants can help cool the planet

Professor Scott Denning wrote this piece for The Conversation. Colorado State University is a contributing institution to The Conversation, an independent collaboration between editors and academics that provides informed news analysis and commentary to the general public.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving to eliminate a class of chemicals widely used as coolants in refrigerators, air conditioners and heat pumps.

If that feels like déjà vu, it should.

These chemicals, called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, were commercialized in the 1990s as a replacement for earlier refrigerants that were based on chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. CFCs were destroying the ozone layer high in the Earth’s atmosphere, which is essential for protecting life from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.

HFCs are much less harmful than CFCs, but they create another problem – they have a strong heat-trapping effect that is contributing to global warming.

Read the full article, “How cleaning up coolants can cool the climate – why HFCs are getting phased out from refrigerators and air conditioners.”

April 26, 2021

Emily Fischer named Monfort Professor; Melissa Burt receives Culture Award

Two department members were honored during this year’s Celebrate! Colorado State Awards. Associate Professor Emily Fischer was named a Monfort Professor, one of CSU’s highest honors, and Melissa Burt, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, received the President’s Council on Culture Award.

Burt was recognized for her individual effort to be a change agent – promoting diversity, equity and inclusion within her department, her college and across campus. The award acknowledges significant and positive contributions to creating a University culture.

Monfort Professorships are awarded to faculty who are rising stars in their fields. The two-year awards provide $50,000 each year for recipients to work on specific research projects and are made possible by the Monfort Family Foundation. Fischer’s Monfort action plan will take advantage of improving low-cost sensor technology to identify impacts of air pollution on economically disadvantaged and minority communities.

Fischer joins a growing list of ATS faculty members who have been honored over the years as Monfort Professors, including Scott Denning, Dave Thompson, Sue van den Heever and Jeff Pierce.

Read the full Source package, “Celebrate! Colorado State: Award Winners for 2021.”

April 20, 2021

Alum Walt Petersen named Marshall Space Flight Center division chief

Alumnus Walt Petersen (M.S., ’92; Ph.D., ’97) has been named the Science Research and Projects Division Chief within the Science and Technology Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Petersen will begin his new role May 9, managing MSFC’s Earth, Astrophysics, Heliophysics, and Planetary Science portfolio, partnerships, workforce and the X-ray and Cryogenic Facility.

Petersen has more than six years of supervisory and organizational leadership experience at two NASA centers, as well as significant science leadership and collaboration experience. His career began when he served as an aerographer’s mate in the U.S. Navy, and then a meteorological technician, before pursuing a degree in mathematics at Southern Utah University and advanced degrees at Colorado State University in atmospheric science.

Petersen joined Marshall Space Flight Center in 2008 as an Earth scientist. In 2011, he transferred to the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility, where he served as the GSFC field support office branch chief, responsible for leading a successful NASA Earth Science research program in atmospheric and oceanic remote sensing. In 2015, he returned to MSFC, serving in many roles including as a deputy project scientist for the NASA-JAXA Global Precipitation Measurement Mission. Petersen became deputy division chief of the Science Research and Projects Division in June 2019. He also was named a fellow of the American Meteorological Society in January 2021. 

Photo credit: NASA

April 19, 2021

Sam Childs receives AASC 2021 New Scientist Award in Applied Climatology

Sam Childs has been selected as the winner of the American Association of State Climatologists 2021 New Scientist Award in Applied Climatology for his work on “Projecting End-of-Century Human Exposure from Tornadoes and Severe Hailstorms in Eastern Colorado: Meteorological and Population Perspectives.” Childs was nominated by his adviser, Associate Professor Russ Schumacher, who is also Colorado’s state climatologist.

The award is meant to encourage and recognize research significant to the field of applied climatology. In addition to a plaque and cash award, Childs will receive one year of associate membership in the AASC and paid attendance to present his research at the AASC Annual Meeting in June.

“It is quite an honor to be recognized by the AASC for my Ph.D. work on the impacts of climate and population on a changing hailstorm and tornado landscape across eastern Colorado,” Childs said. “I am thankful to Dr. Russ Schumacher for the nomination as well as the key contributions from him and other collaborators toward this research, particularly Dr. Stephen Strader. The hope is that this work will raise awareness of the potential future human impacts of these two major weather hazards for Coloradans and shed light on the overlapping influences of both climate change and population dynamics in assessing the future risk from hailstorms and tornadoes.”

April 13, 2021

Elizabeth Barnes and Patrick Keys create satellite map of human pressure on land

The coronavirus pandemic has led researchers to switch gears or temporarily abandon projects due to health protocols or not being able to travel. But for Patrick Keys and Elizabeth Barnes, husband and wife scientists at Colorado State University, this past year led to a productive research collaboration.

They teamed up with Neil Carter, assistant professor at the University of Michigan, on a paper published in Environmental Research Letters that outlines a satellite-based map of human pressure on lands around the world.

Keys, lead author and a research scientist in CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability, said the team used machine learning to produce the map, which reveals where abrupt changes in the landscape have taken place around the world. The map shows a near-present snapshot of effects from deforestation, mining, expanding road networks, urbanization and increasing agriculture.

“The map we’ve developed can help people understand important challenges in biodiversity conservation and sustainability in general,” said Keys.

Read the full Source story, “Satellite map of human pressure on land provides insight on sustainable development.”

Photo at top by Joe Mendoza with CSU Photography

April 8, 2021

Tropical Meteorology Project predicts above-average 2021 Atlantic hurricane season

Colorado State University hurricane researchers are predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2021, citing the likely absence of El Niño as a primary factor. Tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are near their long-term averages, while subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are much warmer than their long-term average values. The warmer subtropical Atlantic also favors an active 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

The tropical Pacific currently has weak La Niña conditions, that is, water temperatures are somewhat cooler than normal in the eastern and central tropical Pacific. While these waters may warm slightly during the next few months, CSU does not currently anticipate El Niño for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. El Niño tends to increase upper-level westerly winds across the Caribbean into the tropical Atlantic, tearing apart hurricanes as they try to form.

While the tropical Atlantic currently has water temperatures near their long-term averages, the warmer-than-normal subtropical Atlantic typically forces a weaker subtropical high and associated weaker winds blowing across the tropical Atlantic. These conditions then lead to warmer waters in the tropical Atlantic for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Read the full Source article, “CSU researchers predicting above-average 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.”

March 31, 2021

James Hurrell co-authors Conversation article on solar geoengineering

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine tackles a controversial question: Is solar geoengineering – an approach designed to cool the Earth by reflecting sunlight back into space or modifying clouds – a potential tool for countering climate change?

The report, produced by a committee of 16 experts from diverse fields, does not take a position but concludes that the concept should be studied. It calls for creating a multidisciplinary research program, in coordination with other countries and managed by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, that seeks to fill in the many knowledge gaps on this issue.

The study emphasizes that such research is not a substitute for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and should be a minor part of the U.S. response to climate change. It notes that “engineering the climate” would not address the root cause of climate change – greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. And it calls for a research program that draws on physical science, social science and ethics and includes public input.

These perspectives from three members of the study committee underline the complexity of this issue.

Three options, many questions

By James W. Hurrell, Professor and Scott Presidential Chair of Environmental Science and Engineering

Solar geoengineering strategies are very controversial within and beyond the climate science community. It is a major step forward to have 16 experts from different disciplines agree that now is the time to establish a research program on this topic. Our committee traveled a long road to reach this recommendation, working through many complex and contentious issues to reach consensus, but we did it collegially and productively. Each of us learned a great deal.

The three options we considered raise many questions.

Read The Conversation article, “Solar geoengineering is worth studying but not a substitute for cutting emissions, study finds.”

March 24, 2021

Statement of solidarity with our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community

Dear ATS and CIRA community,

Over the past several years, we have witnessed the terrible trend of violence targeted against individuals in our community. From the recent attack in Boulder, which we are still seeking to understand, to the shootings in Atlanta, whose motives we understand all too well, we behold these terrible actions, and their aftermath, which we all must collectively bear. We further note that anti-Asian sentiment and violence has increased nationwide in the form of verbal harassment online or in person, and in the form of actual physical attacks, including the horrific tragedy in Atlanta that took the lives of eight individuals, including six Asian women. We abhor and condemn any action that seeks to neglect, disrespect, or abuse our Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander (AAAPI) colleagues.  

As with so many of the events of this past year, these actions continue to highlight the fact that racism and gender-crimes are long-standing systemic issues in the U.S. The Department of Atmospheric Science and CIRA stand in solidarity with our AAAPI community members. Hand-in-hand with our research activities, our AAAPI community forms valuable and real partnerships and friendships, and as such, is an integral component of our academic, professional, and personal lives within ATS and CIRA.

We hear the voices of our AAAPI community members who have informed us that they feel unseen or unrecognized. While not all of us have personally felt the sting of racist and intolerant behavior, we know it exists, and we see you. We are here for you. Moving forward, we will work with you to ensure that you know you are a welcomed, valued, and critical part of our community.

CSU has started taking action, which ATS and CIRA support, including the following steps led by the University Vice President for Diversity:

  • Giving to the CSU Asian Pacific American Cultural Center;
  • Supporting local Asian-owned businesses, many of which have seen a decline in business since the start of the pandemic;
  • Supporting nonprofits like Stop AAPI Hate and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

Our ATS and CIRA community fully supports these activities and share the sentiment in the message shared with the entire university by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity. Moving forward, we at ATS and CIRA want to work with you to find more ways to strengthen our community, and we encourage you to contact us, your student or staff representatives, or the ATS/CIRA DEI committee with concerns, thoughts, and ideas. The DEI committee is planning to provide a safe space for AAAPI students, staff, and faculty to process these events. We will keep you posted. 

In the meantime, if you are hurting or need help, please do not hesitate to seek out the many resources CSU offers to everyone in our community. Students can visit the Mental Health Resources for Students page and faculty and staff can visit the Employee Assistance Program page

We all recognize that the shootings in Atlanta are tragic, but they may impact us differently. You are not alone; we have resources to help you. 

Jeff Collett, ATS department head
Eric Maloney, ATS associate department head
Chris Kummerow, CIRA director

ATS/CIRA DEI Committee members: 
Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano
Charlotte DeMott
Emily Fischer
Leah Grant
Dave Randall
Sagar Rathod
Matt Rogers
Alex Sokolowsky
Sarah Tisdale
Melissa Burt

Project scientist and past TV meteorologist Maria Molina to speak at FORTCAST event

Maria Molina from the National Center for Atmospheric Research will give the final What’s Brewing in Weather and Science talk of the academic year Tuesday, March 30. Molina will discuss navigating a career in STEM, how to prioritize the aspects of your career that are important to you and not being afraid to chart your own path.

The virtual talk will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by a Q-and-A session. FORTCAST will send out the meeting link closer to the event.

FORTCAST is a local chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Contact with questions.

March 23, 2021

Paul DeMott and Elizabeth Barnes recognized with college awards

Senior Research Scientist Paul DeMott received the Outstanding Researcher Award and Associate Professor Elizabeth Barnes received the Faculty Excellence Award during the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering All-College Meeting on March 22. Nominations were submitted by colleagues and staff of the college’s eight departments and programs.

DeMott was recognized for “sustained, exceptional research achievements leading to fundamental advances in understanding and measurement of ice-nucleating particles, and for raising international recognition of the profound impacts of ice nuclei on clouds and climate.”

DeMott acknowledged his many colleagues deserving of the award and thanked collaborator University Distinguished Professor Sonia Kreidenweis and his wife Charlotte DeMott, who is also a research scientist in the department. 

“I’m honored and really humbled to be acknowledged this way, since I feel surrounded by so many really excellent and high-achieving individuals in our department and in this college,” DeMott said. “I’m really fortunate to have been here at CSU for such a rich and rewarding career.”

Barnes was recognized for “her contributions of astonishing quality and quantity to climate dynamics research.” The award citation noted, “She is a sought-after collaborator, an award-winning mentor and teacher, and a leader in service to CSU and her research field.”

Barnes credited her students and postdocs as the foundation of the great research and science done by her group. “I want to start with acknowledging them,” she said.

Barnes expressed gratitude to the department, college and university for their support over the past year, with all its pandemic-related challenges.

“I could never have continued to do science and research and teach without so many faculty who had different challenges stepping up, working late at night, working on weekends to make the machine run when I couldn’t,” she said. “I really want to stress how important it has been to me that so many of you have been working so hard to help out others.”

March 9, 2021

Jeff Pierce to lead project for NASA Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team

Three atmospheric scientists and one epidemiologist from Colorado State University will interpret NASA data for public benefit as part of NASA’s Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team. The team’s goal is to translate information from NASA satellites, models and surface observations to help officials make decisions to protect public health.

Jeff Pierce, associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science, was chosen as one of 14 principal investigators from universities and government offices across the U.S. who will serve during this four-year term. His co-investigators are atmospheric scientists Bonne Ford and Associate Professor Emily Fischer, and Sheryl Magzamen, epidemiologist and associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences.

“We are tasked to work with various end users to facilitate the use of NASA data in their work and decision-making more easily,” Pierce said.

The CSU collaborators received $500,000 in funding to combine NASA observations into a dataset that can identify the concentrations of various pollutants in the air on any given day, in any location in the contiguous U.S., from 2006 to the present. The dataset they create will inform studies connecting air quality to health outcomes, which could be used to craft regulations.

Read the full Source article, “Four CSU researchers selected for NASA team studying air quality and health.”

Photo by jplenio from Pixabay.

March 8, 2021

Allie Mazurek receives AGU Outstanding Student Poster Award

Allie Mazurek, an M.S. student advised by Associate Professor Russ Schumacher, received an Outstanding Student Poster Award for the work she presented at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting.

Mazurek’s research used a high-density rain gauge network and radar data from southeast Texas to examine the relationship between extreme surface precipitation rates and embedded mesoscale rotation in the remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda (2019). After conducting an ingredients-based analysis of the case, she subjectively identified small-scale rotation in the system, then matched the rotation spatially and temporally to surface rainfall data.

“The virtual poster allowed me to present more of my research than a printed poster, but I did miss the face-to-face interaction and feedback that you get with an in-person conference,” Mazurek said. “I’m grateful that I was still able to interact with a few other scientists in creative ways, though!”

March 4, 2021

Study on health impacts of long-range wildfire smoke finds need for better warnings

Smoke from local wildfires can affect the health of Colorado residents, in addition to smoke from fires in forests as far away as California and the Pacific Northwest.

Researchers at Colorado State University, curious about the health effects from smoke from large wildfires across the Western United States, analyzed six years of hospitalization data and death records for the cities along the Front Range.

They found that wildfire smoke was associated with increased hospitalizations for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and some cardiovascular health outcomes. They also discovered that wildfire smoke was associated with deaths from asthma and cardiovascular disease, but that there was a difference in the effects of smoke from local fires and that from distant ones.

Associate Professor Jeff Pierce, Katelyn O’Dell, Research Scientist Bonne Ford and Associate Professor Emily Fischer are co-authors on the study, “Differential Cardiopulmonary Health Impacts of Local and Long‐Range Transport of Wildfire Smoke.”

Read the full Source article, “Researchers see need for better warnings for Colorado residents about health impacts of long-range wildfire smoke.”

Photo at top: The Cameron Peak and East Troublesome wildfires leave a heavy smoke plume over Fort Collins in October 2020. Credit: CSU Photography

March 1, 2021

CSU researchers find transmission risk of airborne viruses can be quantified

A CSU team found that distancing indoors, even 6 feet apart, isn’t enough to limit potentially harmful exposure to airborne viruses, because confinement indoors allows particle volumes to build up in the air. Such insights aren’t revelatory, in that most people avoid confinement in indoor spaces and generally feel safer outdoors. What their paper shows, though, is that the effect of confinement indoors and subsequent particle transport can be quantified, and it can be compared to other risks that people find acceptable.

Co-authors Jeff Pierce in atmospheric science and Jay Ham in soil and crop sciences helped the team understand atmospheric turbulence in ways that could be compared in indoor and outdoor environments.

Pierce said he sought to constrain how the virus-containing particles disperse as a function of distance from the emitting person. When the pandemic hit last year, the public had many questions about whether it was safe to run or bike on trails, Pierce said. The researchers found that longer-duration interactions outdoors at greater than 6-foot distances appeared safer than similar-duration indoor interactions, even if people were further apart indoors, due to particles filling the room rather than being carried away by wind.

“We started fairly early on in the pandemic, and we were all filled with questions about: ‘Which situations are safer than others?’ Our pooled expertise allowed us to find answers to this question, and I learned a lot about air filtration and air exchange in my home and in my CSU classroom,” Pierce said.

Read the full Source story, “Indoors, outdoors, 6 feet apart? Transmission risk of airborne viruses can be quantified.”

February 23, 2021

In memory of former department machinist Charlie Wilkins

Charlie Wilkins, who made instruments for the department and worked as a weather research engineer in one of the many fulfilling careers throughout his life, passed away Feb. 13. His obituary can be viewed online. A funeral service is scheduled for 3 p.m. Feb. 27.

Wilkins, a U.S. Air Force veteran, flew several aircraft for weather research projects during his time at CSU: a T-28, Queen Aire, McDonnell F-101B (the Grey Ghost) and Cessna 207. He ran the department machine shop for many years. 

“He was very helpful to many students and was just a very approachable and friendly person,” Senior Research Scientist Paul DeMott said.

Wilkins was married to Jane Wilkins, who served as assistant to the department head and graduate student coordinator from 1987-98.

February 12, 2021

Several recent papers by department researchers highlighted by AGU

Three papers authored by students in the department recently have been highlighted by the American Geophysical Union. The papers by Ph.D. candidate Ting-Yu Cha and recent graduates Ben Toms and Steven Brey were featured in the AGU publication Eos.

Cha’s paper, “Polygonal eyewall asymmetries during the rapid intensification of Hurricane Michael (2018),” with co-authors Associate Professor Michael Bell, Wen-Chau Lee (NCAR) and Alex DesRosiers, was chosen as an Editors’ Highlight. Fewer than 2 percent of journal articles are featured this way. 

Cha’s research presents the first observational evidence of the evolving wind asymmetries of a polygonal eyewall during rapid intensification to Category 5 intensity, by deducing the winds from coastal radar observations.

“Our results highlight the value of coastal radar observations to investigate physical mechanisms of hurricane intensity and structure evolution, and can potentially help to improve intensity forecasts in the future,” Cha said.

Toms’ paper, with Associate Professor Elizabeth Barnes and CIRA scientist Imme Ebert-Uphoff, “Physically Interpretable Neural Networks for the Geosciences: Applications to Earth System Variability,” was published as a Research Spotlight on

Brey’s paper, with Associate Professors Elizabeth Barnes, Jeff Pierce and Emily Fischer, as well as Abigail Swann of the University of Washington, also was selected as a Research Spotlight. “Past variance and future projections of the environmental conditions driving western U.S. summertime wildfire burn area” is based on Brey’s research for his dissertation.

AGU Research Spotlights summarize the research and findings of the best accepted articles for the broad Earth and space science community.

Image at top: Radar reflectivity scans of Hurricane Michael as it developed at six time intervals on Oct. 10, 2018. Credit: Cha et al. [2020]

February 11, 2021

FORTCAST hosts FEMA public affairs specialist Minh Phan at next virtual event

You can shape your career path based on your passions. FEMA public affairs specialist Minh Phan will share how he has done just that at FORTCAST’s What’s Brewing in Weather and Science talk Tuesday, Feb. 16. Minh will discuss how his interest in weather contributed to his career and research.

The virtual talk will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by a Q-and-A session. FORTCAST will send out the meeting link closer to the event.

FORTCAST is a local chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Contact with questions.

February 9, 2021

Melissa Burt and Emily Fischer star in national campaign urging action on climate change

Melissa Burt and Emily Fischer are accomplished climate researchers – familiar faces at scientific meetings, and around the halls of Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science.

But to millions of Americans meeting Burt and Fischer for the first time, they are moms – and that’s what they hope will be the difference.

Burt, Fischer and their adorable families are stars of a national media campaign called Science Moms that launched just as America got a new president in January. The campaign’s urgent message about the realities of climate change tugs at the fierce protective instincts of its target demographic: mothers.

“Science Moms is a different kind of messaging,” said Burt, a research scientist in atmospheric science and assistant dean for diversity and inclusion in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering. “This is a group who we know will do anything for their kids.”

Read the full Source article, “Two faculty moms are stars of a national campaign urging action on climate change.”

February 8, 2021

A tribute to Nobel Laureate and former CSU Adjunct Professor Paul Crutzen

Science lost a brilliant researcher and the planet lost a steadfast advocate with the death of Paul Crutzen on Jan. 28. Crutzen, an atmospheric scientist, was one of the first to link human activities to ozone deterioration, leading to the worldwide ban on ozone-depleting substances. He was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, with Mario Molina and F. Sherwood Rowland, for discovering the chemical processes that cause ozone depletion.

Crutzen pioneered many other significant scientific discoveries. He was the first to explore biomass burning’s impact on the atmosphere; he warned that nuclear war would lead to nuclear winter; he proved the Earth is in a new epoch influenced by humans, which he termed the Anthropocene; and he started the debate on potential geoengineering to abate the effects of greenhouse gases.

“Any one of these would be a major life’s work for most of us. Yet, they are only a few examples of so many of Paul’s contributions,” said University Distinguished Professor A.R. Ravishankara, a friend of the late professor. “You cannot pick up an important atmospheric chemistry paper without seeing a reference to Crutzen’s work.”

Prior to directing the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, from 1980 to 2000, Crutzen was an adjunct professor in Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science, from 1976-81. Around the same time, he served as a senior scientist and director of the Air Quality Division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

Read the full Source article, “A tribute to Nobel Laureate and former CSU Adjunct Professor Paul Crutzen.”

Photo credit: Carsten Costard, MPI-Chemie

February 5, 2021

Sam O’Donnell receives first-place AMS student poster presentation award

M.S. student Sam O’Donnell, advised by Associate Professor Jeff Pierce, was recognized with a first-place Outstanding Student Poster Presentation Award by the American Meteorological Society’s 23rd Conference on Atmospheric Chemistry.
O’Donnell’s poster covered his research using aircraft and surface-based data to investigate the profile and drivers of atmospheric new particle formation as it relates to planetary boundary layer dynamics. He and his colleagues developed a 1-D model to help elucidate the processes behind the observed nucleation and growth of particles. 
O’Donnell appreciated the virtual nature of the conference because he was able to watch and re-watch presentations throughout the conference.
“I missed many of the in-person interactions, but the conference did allow me to talk to a broader audience,” he said.
February 2, 2021

Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano wins AMS student presentation award

Ph.D. student Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano was selected as the fourth-place winner of the Outstanding Student Oral Presentation Award by the American Meteorological Society’s 23rd Conference on Atmospheric Chemistry.

Juncosa Calahorrano presented her research on the evolution of Peroxyacetyl Nitrate (PAN) in western U.S. wildfire smoke plumes using a new dataset from the Cross-Track Infrared Sounder (CrIS). She and her colleagues looked at the 2018 wildfire season and complemented their analysis with in-situ observations from the Western Wildfire Experiment for Cloud Chemistry, Aerosol Absorption, and Nitrogen (WE-CAN).

“You have clearly demonstrated the outstanding qualities we look for in our student recipients of this award,” read the notification letter from AMS.

The virtual meeting allowed Juncosa Calahorrano to participate from Ecuador, where she was renewing her student visa. She said the virtual nature of the meeting was an excellent opportunity for international researchers, who are not always able to attend these events that are crucial for career development.

“I want to thank Emily Fischer and the past and present Fischer group members!” Juncosa Calahorrano said. “I have grown so much in the art of giving effective oral presentations thanks to their feedback!”

January 28, 2021

The Conversation features research brief by Tom Hill and Jessie Creamean

Research scientists Jessie Creamean and Thomas Hill wrote this Research Brief, a short take about interesting academic work, for The Conversation, an independent collaboration between editors and academics that provides informed news analysis and commentary to the general public.

Permafrost – frozen soil in the far north – is thawing, releasing greenhouse gases and long-lost microbes. But one thing that scientists have not studied extensively is whether permafrost contains certain kinds of particles that could affect clouds and weather.

As atmospheric scientists, we found in a recent study that thawing permafrost contains lots of microscopic ice-nucleating particles. These particles make it easier for water droplets to freeze; and if the ones in permafrost get airborne, they could affect Arctic clouds.

In the summer of 2018, one of us, Jessie Creamean, went to Fairbanks, Alaska, and collected samples of permafrost from a research tunnel deep underground. These samples ranged from 18,000 to 30,000 years old, and our team tested them to see how many ice-nucleating particles are hiding in permafrost.

It turns out permafrost contains a ton of them – up to 100 million highly active individual particles per gram of mostly dead microbes and pieces of plants. This density is on par with what is found in fertile soils, which are some of the most concentrated sources of ice-nucleating particles on Earth. Everywhere in the world, ice-nucleating particles typically play a major role in cloud behavior, and the strength of that effect is still being studied.

Read the full article, “Thawing permafrost is full of ice-forming particles that could get into atmosphere.”

Photo at top: This 18,000-year-old permafrost sample contains millions of ice-nucleating particles per gram. Credit: Thomas Hill, CC BY-ND

January 25, 2021

Jeff Collett appointed to USDA task force for agricultural air quality research

Jeffrey Collett, professor and chair of the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, has been named to the national U.S. Department of Agriculture Air Quality Task Force.

Collett and the 25 other members of the task force will advise the Secretary of Agriculture on air quality issues related to agriculture based on science and research.

Members serve a two-year term and are chosen for their expertise in farming, industry, health and science. They review research on agricultural air quality, promote intergovernmental coordination on policy, and ensure that conservation practices supported by the USDA are based on peer-reviewed research and are economically feasible for agricultural producers.

Read the full Source story, “Jeffrey Collett appointed to USDA task force for agricultural air quality research.”

January 8, 2021

Congratulations to our Fall 2020 graduates!

The department celebrated fall graduates with a Zoom ceremony Jan. 8. Advisers shared information about each graduate, and family and friends were able to attend.

We asked our graduating students about their plans following graduation and the most important thing they learned at CSU. Here are their responses.

Alex DesRosiers

“I will be continuing on as a Ph.D. student at CSU.”

“Just because you don’t have the slightest idea how to even start something at first does not mean you can’t do it.”

Andrea Jenney

 “I’m a NOAA Climate & Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Irvine.”

“I particularly value the example that this department sets for being a collaborative, welcoming, and non-competitive work environment; values that I have learned to prioritize in my own career.”

Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano

“I am continuing my Ph.D. program with the Fischer group. I will spend my Ph.D. understanding the emissions, abundances and loss processes of ammonia from animal feeding operations.”

“The most important thing I learned at CSU is to take my space in the room.”

Nicholas Kedzuf

“Staying at CSU to pursue my Ph.D. under the guidance of Christine Chiu.”

“Embrace criticism, always be willing to learn, and don’t compare yourself to others too much.”

Yoonjin Lee

“I’ll be working as a postdoc at CIRA – glad that I’m staying here!​”

“The most important thing I learned at CSU is to cooperate with people, not competing. (I met so many good ‘scientists’)​.”

Jingyuan Li

Jingyuan has moved to San Diego, California.

“How to ask the right questions, and how to deal with uncertainty in research projects.”

Alex Naegele

“I recently started a postdoc in climate risk at Woodwell Climate Research Center.”

“CSU has so much to offer! Don’t be afraid to pursue any and all interesting opportunities, even if they seem non-traditional for someone in our field.”

Marqi Rocque

“Currently a Ph.D. student in Kristen Rasmussen’s group (working on RELAMPAGO analysis).”

“How to efficiently manage my time.”

Ben Toms

“I started a company called Intersphere, focused on seasonal to sub-decadal forecasts (”

“One of the most important elements to any research project is the human element. Teams operate best if people know they’re appreciated as part of the team and that their work has a broader purpose.”

Ben Trabing

“I am a research associate at CIRA, but am working at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.”

“I learned quite a bit at CSU, but overall the most important thing I learned was how to be a good scientist. I learned the skills required to think critically about difficult problems and potential solutions.”

Photo collage: From left to right, top to bottom row, Alex DesRosiers (left), Andrea Jenney, Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano, Nicholas Kedzuf, Yoonjin Lee, Jingyuan Li, Alex Naegele, Marqi Rocque, Ben Toms and Ben Trabing.

Fall 2020 Graduates

Adam Clayton M.S. Adviser: Steven Rutledge
Alex DesRosiers M.S. Adviser: Michael Bell
Julieta Juncosa Calahorrano M.S. Adviser: Emily Fischer
Andrea Jenney Ph.D. Advisers: David Randall and Elizabeth Barnes
Nicholas Kedzuf M.S. Adviser: Christine Chiu
Yoonjin Lee Ph.D. Advisers: Chris Kummerow and Milija Zupanski
Jingyuan Li Ph.D. Adviser: David Thompson
Alex Naegele Ph.D. Adviser: David Randall
Marqi Rocque M.S. Adviser: Steven Rutledge
Ben Toms Ph.D. Adviser: Elizabeth Barnes
Ben Trabing Ph.D. Adviser: Michael Bell

2020 Announcements