2006 Outstanding Accomplishment Awards

On December 8, staffers packed the Center Green auditorium for the annual holiday party and awards ceremony.

This year’s Outstanding Accomplishment Awards featured 17 nominations, comprising a record 138 individuals, including university collaborators. UCAR president Rick Anthes congratulated the winners and nominees, and thanked the jury members for their thoughtful deliberations.

Prior to the awards ceremony, the UCARolers warmed up the crowd with a session of a cappella carols, as well as a clever tune called “Up to the Cloud Tops” that described HIAPER flying through the atmosphere. The UCARolers were followed by the Sizzle String Band (see Just One Look), who played a rousing bluegrass set.

After the winners were announced, staffers dined on a spread provided by Event Services and listened to the music of Cari Dell and the Hard Drives.

Following are the winners in the four categories in which awards were given. (There were no nominations this year in the Distinguished Achievement and Administrative Achievement categories.) For a list of all nominations, click here.

Scientific and Technical Advancement Award

MOPITT team, winners of Science and Technical Advancement Award

ESSL/ACD’s MOPITT team, winners of the Scientific and Technical Advancement Award, clockwise from upper left: John Gille, Gene Francis, Shu-peng (Ben) Ho, Valery Yudin, David Edwards, Jean-François Lamarque, Merritt Deeter, Charles Cavanaugh, Barb Tunison, Louisa Emmons, Debbie Mao, Dan Packman, Gabriele Pfister, and Cheryl Craig.

The winners were ESSL/ACD’s John Gille, David Edwards, Merritt Deeter, Dan Ziskin, Barb Tunison, Dan Packman, Gene Francis, Juying Warner, Jean-François Lamarque, Valery Yudin, Boris Khattatov, Louisa Emmons, Shu-peng (Ben) Ho, Gabriele Pfister, Jean-Luc Attie, Debbie Mao, Jarmei Chen, Cheryl Craig, and Charles Cavanaugh of the MOPITT (Measurement Of Pollution In The Troposphere) team.

The MOPITT team was recognized for outstanding leadership, from the conception of the project through instrument design, algorithm development, and operational data processing, to the resulting significant scientific analysis. The MOPITT instrument was placed on the Terra satellite in late 1999 to measure carbon monoxide. Since that time, the MOPITT team has produced more than six years of validated carbon monoxide global measurements for use by the international scientific community. The project’s measurements have helped advance scientific understanding of the sources of this pollutant gas, the amount of carbon monoxide produced regionally, and how and where the gas spreads around the globe over time. The mission continues to expand our knowledge of tropospheric transport, chemistry, and the sources of pollutants that affect air quality and climate.

Outstanding Publication Award

Jeff Kiehl and Christine Shields

ESSL/CGD’s Jeff Kiehl and Christine Shields, winners of the Outstanding Publication Award.

The winners were ESSL/CGD’s Jeffrey Kiehl and Christine Shields for the article “Climate simulation of the latest Permian: Implications for mass extinction,” published in 2005 in Geology.

Around 251 million years ago, an estimated 95% of all marine life and 70% of life on land died off in the relatively short time of a few thousand years. Numerous causes for the extinction have been proposed, including an asteroid impact, a large buildup of carbon dioxide in the oceans, and massive volcanic explosions that led to cooling.

It is known that a large region of Siberia was the site of volcanic activity that, although not explosive, emitted carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. One hypothesis for the mass extinction is that the volcanic carbon dioxide led to global warming, which slowed ocean circulation and resulted in very low oxygen levels in the deep oceans that suffocated marine life. Previous attempts to model the climate of this period in history, however, failed to produce results that made sense with this hypothesis.

Using the fully coupled Community Climate System Model, Jeff and Christine produced a result that matches the geological evidence. In doing so, they demonstrated the importance of ocean circulation to life on Earth and the value of coupled ocean-atmosphere modeling. Their multidisciplinary work connects atmospheric and ocean sciences, biogeochemistry, and geology. More importantly, it provides a convincing example of the calamitous results of massive carbon dioxide release to the atmosphere. It may well have an impact on public policy.

Education and Outreach Award

Group of four men and three women

Winners of the Education and Outreach Award (left to right): Jeff Weber (Unidata), Janine Goldstein (EOL), William Bradley (ESSL/ACD), Dolores Kiessling (COMET), Linda Carbone (EO), Tim Barnes (EO), and Dennis Ward (EO).

The winners were Linda Carbone (EO), Tim Barnes (EO), William Bradley (ESSL/ACD), Janine Goldstein (EOL), Dolores Kiessling (COMET), Dennis Ward (EO), and Jeff Weber (Unidata) for hosting Super Science Saturday.

For the past 10 years every October, UCAR has welcomed thousands of children and their families to Super Science Saturday, an event that supports UCAR’s mission to educate the public about the atmospheric and related sciences. During the event, participants experience innovative and fun hands-on science activities as well as the original, captivating science demonstrations in the “wizards” shows. The impact of Super Science Saturday on the community and future scientists is clearly evident from enthusiastic feedback and the ever-increasing attendance that surpassed 4,000 this year.

The jury reached its decision in part for the immense organizational efforts, creativity, and commitment to excellence on the part of the organizers. Children leave Super Science Saturday with stories to tell, experiments to do, and the knowledge that science can be very interesting to study and rewarding as a career. In addition, families gain a positive impression of our organization.

Mentoring Award

Al Cooper

Mentoring Award winner Al Cooper (EOL).

The winner was EOL’s Al Cooper. From 1996 to 2005, Al was director of the Advanced Study Program (ASP), where he mentored a long stream of postdoctoral fellows who are still deeply indebted to him.

The jury felt that Al is a master at helping graduate students orchestrate smooth transitions to becoming mature scientists. He uses creative and effective mentoring techniques that have lifelong impacts on the careers of his protégés, including one-on-one conversations, weekly group tea sessions, postdoctoral seminars, mentoring committees, retreats, and social events. He was also the driving force behind the creation of NCAR’s Thompson Lecture Series as well as the Junior Faculty Forum on Future Scientific Directions.