Honors and holiday cheer

All-staff party toasts award winners

December 11, 2013 | The weather outside was frightful—or at least frightfully cold—but warm holiday cheer was in ample supply at the all-staff holiday party, held at Center Green on December 6.

Organized by the Employee Activities Committee, the event kicked off with a rousing performance by The Trouble with Dr. T, a staff-heavy supergroup that coalesced one evening at a COSMIC retreat. The players included F&A's Jeff Reaves (guitar and lead vocals) and Kerry Slaven (vocals and lead guitar), COSMIC's Dave Ector (vocals and guitar) and Maggie Sleziak (violin), UCAR president Tom Bogdan (bass), and nonstaffers Victor Olgay (vocals/guitar) and Dave Mason (drums).

Afterward, a sumptuous spread from Event Services made for festive noshing, while the Nasal Ridge Pickers—F&A's Jeff Alipit (ukelele), CISL's John Hernandez (bass) and Ed Snyder (banjo), and HAO's Ron Lull (guitar), as well as nonstaffers Tim Buchanan (mandolin), Carol Friefeld (fiddle), and Bill Palmer (guitar)—kept toes tapping with bluegrass tunes from their perch above the CG lobby atrium.


William "Al" Cooper (far right) accepts Distinguished Achievement Award
William "Al" Cooper (far right) accepts the Distinguished Achievement Award, presented by (left to right) UCAR president Tom Bogdan, UCAR vice president for finance and administration Katy Schmoll, NCAR director Jim Hurrell, and JOSS director Karyn Sawyer, filling in for UCP director Emily CoBabe-Ammann. (Photo courtesy Marijke Unger, CISL.)

UCAR and NCAR’s highest honor, the Distinguished Achievement Award, went to senior scientist emeritus Al Cooper (EOL). The award was presented this year for only the seventh time in its 13-year history.

Al was honored for his lead role in coordinating the creation and integration of 14 externally developed instruments that were installed on the NSF/NCAR HIAPER G-V jet. Carried out through a $12.5 million NSF solicitation, the project involved FAA certifications, design modifications, budget negotiations, NSF coordination, and outreach to NCAR staff and the UCAR community.

Colleagues cited Al’s scientific prowess, people skills, and intimate understanding of the measurement requirements. One wrote that the task of overseeing HIAPER instrumentation was “a very, very difficult one, and I am not sure if anyone else would have been as successful as Al.... There is no doubt that Al has established a community resource for research in the atmospheric sciences that is a model for other institutions and countries and that will continue to have a profound impact on the future of atmospheric science research in years to come.” 


UCAR president Tom Bogdan announced winners of the 2013 Outstanding Accomplishment Awards. The full list of nominations appeared in Staff Notes Daily on November 25. Nominations are not announced in a given category if there is only one nominee or if that award is not granted in a particular year. For details on the internal awards process, and archives of internal and external award winners from past years, see the Honors and Awards website.

Administrative Achievement Award

The NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center team, including (all from CISL unless otherwise indicated) Krista Laursen, Aaron Andersen, Gary New, Amy Smith (F&A), Amy Moore, Jim Van Dyke, Del Harris, Matt McMullen (F&A), and Lori Lincoln, for the remarkable completion of the NWSC computing facility two months ahead of schedule and nearly $4 million under budget. Among many other tasks, the launch of this complex facility involved initiating, awarding, and completing five large requests for proposals; navigating the NSF preliminary and final design reviews; and preparing for and hosting seven oversight and review committees. The NWSC has already been recognized regionally, nationally, and internationally for technical achievements.


Scott Sewell (HAO), for his leadership in creating HAO internship opportunities for engineering students from underrepresented groups.  Scott’s strong commitment to diversity was demonstrated by his outstanding volunteer effort in mentoring female and minority high school and college students interested in engineering and sciences careers. His leadership in creating opportunities has made significant impacts on the lives of these students, providing them with the experience, tools, and encouragement they need to succeed. In one supporter’s words, Scott “….has stepped up with one awesome solution for developing highly skilled and technically capable, diverse engineers.” These students’ commitment to pursuing STEM careers is crucial to expanding diversity in these fields.

Education and Outreach

Joan Burkepile (HAO), Don Kolinski (HAO), Mark Miesch (HAO), Becca Hatheway (Spark), Linda Carbone (formerly UCAR E&O), Greg Card (HAO), Rebecca Centeno Elliott (HAO), Yuhong Fan (HAO), Ben Foster (HAO), Susan Foster (formerly UCAR E&O), Sarah Gibson (HAO), Alice Lecinski (HAO), Gang Lu (HAO), Ron Lull (HAO), Dave Maddy (FM&S), Astrid Maute (HAO), Art Richmond (HAO), and Randy Russell (Spark), for their roles in designing, building, and displaying the HAO mural and the Sun-Earth Connections exhibit at the Mesa Laboratory. Since its inauguration in the fall of 2011, the Sun­ Earth Connections exhibit has attracted thousands of visitors of various ages. The exhibit is now a focal point of NCAR/UCAR education and public outreach tours. Behind the colorful mural, shining graphic panels, touch screens, and interactives are the commitment and dedication of the nominees, whose expertise, creativity, and insights contributed to this successful, modern museum installation.


Maura Hagan (HAO) for actively mentoring scientists at all stages of their careers throughout her own distinguished career at NCAR. The group of mentees is diverse and includes a significant number of women and members of underrepresented ethnicities in the atmospheric and related sciences. Along with helping to found SOARS and mentoring five SOARS protégés, Maura has guided the thesis research of three graduate students and supervised and collaborated with eight HAO postdoctoral researchers, four of those during the five years in which she served as deputy and interim director of NCAR. In the words of the nominator: “Maura’s approach to mentoring provides protégés with a supportive environment in which to explore their interests, learn skills for carrying out their research, deal with issues regarding work-life balance, and present themselves effectively in the scientific community.” 

Outstanding Publication

Bruce Lites (HAO), with Masahito Kubo (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), Hector Socas-Navarro (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias), Thomas Berger (National Solar Observatory), Zoe Frank (Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory), Richard Shine (Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory), Ted Tarbell (Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory), Alan Title (Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory), Kiyoshi Ichimoto (Kyoto University), Yukio Katsukawa (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), Saku Tsuneta (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), Yoshinori Sematsu (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan), Toshifumi Shimizu (Institute of Space and Astronautical Science), and Shinich Nagata (Kyoto University), for “The Horizontal Magnetic Flux of the Quiet-Sun Internetwork as Observed with the Hinode Spectro-Polarimeter," The Astrophysical Journal 672, 1237-1253. This highly cited paper produced a major paradigm shift in the understanding of the nature of solar magnetic fields by overturning a concept about these fields that had been accepted for 40 years.  With data from the Solar Optical Telescope Spectro-polarimeter aboard the Hinode spacecraft, the authors demonstrated incontrovertibly, for the first time, the ubiquitous presence of large-scale horizontal magnetic fields in the photosphere of the quiet Sun. The result has important implications for our understanding of the emergence of magnetic flux through the solar photosphere and its connection with the convection-driven local dynamo at the solar surface. This research has been praised as “one of the most important publications in solar physics in the past 100 years.”

Scientific and Technical Achievement

Britt Stephens, Pavel Romashkin, Henry Boynton, Ed Ringleman, John Cowan, Greg Bruning, Brent Kidd, Alison Rockwell, Vidal Salazar, and Janine Aquino (all EOL), for their contributions to the HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations project. The multi-year, multi-phase HIPPO field campaign studied the latitudinal and vertical distribution of greenhouse gases and other atmospheric constituents across a domain stretching from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Five 30-day missions were accomplished, logging over 460 research flight hours and 150 days in the field. The committee agreed that this project is an exceptional example of a successful, complex, and innovative field project, resulting in substantial improvements to our technical and scientific capabilities. In the words of one supporting reviewer, “HIPPO was an extraordinary mission in many aspects: new flight strategy; challenging flight operations; rigorous demands on data accuracy, transparency, and mobility; and outreach to the public and science community. The impact has already been huge and promises to keep growing.”


NCAR director Jim Hurrell saluted staff members who had won external awards in the past year. They included:

Ray Roble (HAO), AGU William Bowie Medal (see AtmosNews release, August 1)

Kevin Trenberth (CGD), AGU Climate Communication Award (see AtmosNews release, August 1)

Gordon Bonan and Warren Washington (CGD), AGU Fellows

Christine Wiedinmyer (ACD), Walter Orr Roberts Lecturer in Interdisciplinary Sciences at the upcoming 94th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society

Vanda Grubišić (EOL), AMS Fellow

Wojciech Grabowski (MMM), Professor of Physical Sciences, bestowed by the president of Poland

Warren Washington (CGD):
Percy L. Julian Award, National Organization for the Professional Advancement
   of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE)
Honorary Doctorate, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Honorary Geographer Award, Association of American Geographers (AAG)

NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center:
First place, Facility Design Implementation, Green Enterprise IT Awards
   (see AtmosNews release, April 3)
‘Green’ Data Center of the Year, Datacenter Dynamics North American Awards
   (see AtmosNews release, July 17)