Biography - Richard A. Anthes, UCAR President Emeritus

Richard A. Anthes

Dr. Richard A. Anthes, distinguished atmospheric scientist, author, educator, and administrator, served as fifth president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) from 1988 to January 2012.

Born in 1944 in St. Louis, Missouri and growing up in Waynesboro, Virginia, Dr. Anthes knew as a very young child that he wanted to be a meteorologist.

While attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison to earn his bachelor's degree, Dr. Anthes pursued his interest in the atmosphere by working as a student trainee for the U.S. Weather Bureau at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration during the summers of 1962 through 1967. He discovered that an area of particular interest to him was researching some of nature's most devastating and costly weather phenomena: hurricanes and tropical cyclones. His masters and doctoral theses – obtained under Professor Donald R. Johnson in 1967 and 1970, respectively, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison – reflected this interest.

In 1971 Dr. Anthes started teaching and conducting research at The Pennsylvania State University where he attained a full professorship in 1978. During this period, he also took a year to conduct research and teach as a visiting research professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) welcomed Dr. Anthes in 1981 when he became the director of NCAR's Atmospheric Analysis and Prediction Division. In 1986, Dr. Anthes became the director of NCAR. His leadership abilities, administrative talent, drive for excellence, and vision for the future of the atmospheric and related sciences were further recognized when he was selected to become the president of UCAR in 1988. UCAR is a nonprofit consortium of member universities that award Ph.D.s in atmospheric and related sciences. UCAR manages NCAR and the UCAR Community Programs in addition to collaborating with many national and international meteorological institutions through a variety of programs.

Dr. Anthes was elected as an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Fellow in 1979. In 1980 he was the winner of the AMS's Clarence L. Meisinger Award as a young, promising atmospheric scientist who had shown outstanding ability in research and modeling of tropical cyclones and mesoscale meteorology. In 1987 he received the AMS's Jule G. Charney Award for his sustained contributions in theoretical and modeling studies related to tropical and mesoscale meteorology. In 2000 he was elected an American Geophysical UnionFellow. In October 2003 he received the prestigious Friendship Award by the Chinese government. The Friendship Award is the highest award China bestows on foreigners (one out of a thousand nominations are selected), and he was the first atmospheric scientist to receive this award. In 2006, Dr. Anthes was elected as AMS President, and he served in that capacity during 2007.  In 2015, he was presented the highest award of the AMS, Honorary Membership.

He has participated in or chaired over 40 different national committees (for agencies such as NASA, NOAA, AMS, NSF, the National Research Council, and the National Academy of Sciences) including his chairmanship on the National Weather Service Modernization Committee from 1996-1999, the Committee on NASA-NOAA Transition of Research to Operations (CONNTRO) in 2002-2003, and co-chaired the Committee on Earth Science and Applications From Space in 2004-2007.  This Committee produced the first ever “decadal survey” on priorities in Earth Sciences from space. Dr. Anthes has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and books. 

In March 2007, Dr. Anthes began the first of several visits to Cuba, where he established an ongoing relationship with the Cuban Meteorological Society and scientists in Havana and Camagüey.  This and subsequent visits played an important role in the establishment of a GPS receiver for the measurement of precipitable water at the Grupo de Óptica Atmosphérica de Camagüey, Camagüey Meteorological Center (Bulletin of the AMS, July 2015).

Dr. Anthes has made many research contributions in the areas of tropical cyclones and mesoscale meteorology. He developed the first successful three-dimensional model of the tropical cyclone and was the father of one of the world's most widely used mesoscale models, the Penn State-NCAR mesoscale model, now in its fifth generation (MM5). In recent years he has become interested in the radio occultation technique for sounding Earth's atmosphere and was a key player in the highly successful proof-of-concept GPS/MET experiment. This grew into the COSMIC (Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate) program, a joint U.S.-Taiwan satellite project, which in April 2006 launched a constellation of six microsatellites that are collecting atmospheric remote-sensing data for weather prediction, climate, ionospheric, and geodetic research. The COSMIC data are freely available to international research and operational communities and have been shown to have a positive impact on operational weather prediction as well as being valuable for weather, climate and space weather research.

Dr. Anthes places a very high value on education at all levels. His philosophy is that any significant, long-term progress in solving the array of problems facing the world hinges on the education of young people in all countries. This philosophy is reflected in multiple education and outreach programs at UCAR. For example, in 1996, he initiated the highly successful SOARS (Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science) program, which addresses the severe under-representation of minority professionals in the atmospheric sciences.  The Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring was awarded to SOARS in 2001.