Atmospheric science professor elected to National Academy of Engineering

Graeme Stephens, a University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Colorado State University, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering — the second CSU professor in less than a year to be elected to a prestigious national academy.

Stephens, a former professor of atmospheric science and lead researcher on the NASA-funded CloudSat project, is the 10th CSU faculty member to join the ranks of the National Academies. Edward A. Hoover, a CSU veterinarian and infectious disease authority, was elected to the National Academy of Science in 2014. Graeme Stephens

“This is a well-deserved honor for Graeme, and we are enormously pleased to see him recognized among the nation’s most accomplished atmospheric scientists,” said CSU President Tony Frank. “He has helped significantly advance the atmospheric and climate research for which CSU is known, and he continues to make an important impact on climate science through his ongoing research and leadership of the CloudSat project. This recognition is also a great tribute to the quality of our academic faculty as a whole – illustrating the importance and worldwide impact of the education and research that happens at CSU.”

About the National Academies

Stephens was one of 79 researchers recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering, which has fewer than 2,500 members worldwide. Researchers must be nominated by an existing academy member and are carefully vetted before their names are placed on a ballot and voted on at the organization’s annual meeting.

Election to the National Academies, which includes the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine, is considered one of the highest honors a researcher can receive.

“It’s an honor to become part of such a renowned group,” Stephens said.

Launching CloudSat

Stephens spent the bulk of his career at CSU, conducting research and teaching courses through the Department of Atmospheric Science in the College of Engineering. In 2010, he was named director of the Center for Climate Sciences at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Though he no longer lives in Fort Collins, Stephens conducts research for CSU, including continuing to lead the CloudSat project.

CloudSat was the first radar to look vertically at the characteristics of clouds — particularly water and ice content — that could someday help scientists better predict weather patterns and climate change and better understand how clouds determine Earth’s energy balance.

At the time of its launch in 2006, CloudSat was one of only three university-led NASA Earth science missions. CSU designed the radar, which is still orbiting, and Stephens and others analyze and disseminate the data it gathers.

“I am still very much tied to CSU and do a lot of work with the Department of Atmospheric Science,” Stephens said. “I spent most of my research career there and all of my formative years were done at CSU.”

Thomas Vonder Haar, a University Distinguished Professor Emeritus and former chair of CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science, said Stephens’ election is well deserved.

“Graeme is unique because he has the ability to not only learn new things about the atmosphere and climate but helps people understand why it’s important,” said Vonder Haar, who is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering. “Few people are able to do that.”

Other members

Other CSU faculty who have been elected to a National Academy are: Hoover; Barry Beaty, professor of microbiology, immunology, and pathology and a University Distinguished Professor; Bruce Ellingwood, professor of civil and environmental engineering; Marshall Fixman, professor of chemistry, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Albert Meyers, John K. Stille Professor of Chemistry and University Distinguished Professor Emeritus; Larry Roesner, professor of civil and environmental engineering; A.R. Ravishankara, professor of chemistry; George Seidel Jr., professor of biomedical sciences and a University Distinguished Professor Emeritus; and Vonder Haar. Diana Wall, professor of biology, University Distinguished Professor  and director of CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability, was the first woman from CSU to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 2014.