Thompson honored again

Dec 092007
Authors: Laura Anderson

Atmospheric science professor David Thompson, one of the leading scientists in his field, was recently awarded the 2008 Clarence Leroy Meisinger Award by the American Meteorological Society, a top honor for a young scientist.

The Meisinger Award is given annually to a scientist who is under 40 “in recognition of research achievement that is aerological in character,” according to the American Meteorological Society’s Web site.

According to the AMS, Thompson received the award “for insightful analysis of the atmospheric circulation variability of importance to climate and weather.”

“It’s obviously a very significant award,” said Richard Johnson, professor and head of the Department of Atmospheric Science at CSU.

Amy Hawes, a Ph.D. student studying under Thompson in the Department of Atmospheric Science, said that Thompson is a great instructor.

“He’s one of the younger faculty members, so I think he can work with students really well,” Hawes said.

She also said she enjoys his classes because they are practical and hands on and don’t rely on textbooks.

“He teaches an observational analysis class that is probably one of the best classes I’ve taken in grad school,” Hawes said.

Thompson discovered Arctic Oscillation, which is the climate system over the northern third of the planet that drives weather patterns internationally, and is currently researching how climate change is effected by weather circulation over the poles.

Using observation, past weather records and computer analysis, Thompson is working to understand how climate change is happening and its effects on the planet.

Gillian L’Ecuyer, research coordinator who works with Thompson in the Department of Atmospheric Science, said Thompson enjoys his job.

“He loves the science that he does and you can tell by the work and research he does,” L’Ecuyer said.

Thompson, who received his Ph. D. from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 2000, was hired by CSU in the spring of 2001.

“He’s an outstanding young faculty member,” Johnson said. “He’s contributed significantly to our entire department.”

Hawes describes Thompson as “pretty humble. I don’t usually hear about his awards until I see them in the media.”

L’Ecuyer agrees.

“He’s not one to gloat – I bet you anything he’s sitting back at his desk, sort of embarrassed,” L’Ecuyer said. “But he deserves the awards that he’s getting.”

Thompson’s research has earned him much renown in the scientific and academic community. In 2006, Popular Science named him one of the country’s 10 most brilliant scientists and he received CSU’s Monfort Professor Award. He has received numerous other honors, including the NASA Earth System Science Fellowship and the American Geophysical Union’s James B. Macelwane Medal.

In 2005 he was recognized by “Time” magazine as a premier scientific innovator. Thompson has also published over 30 peer-review articles in various scientific publications, such as “Science Magazine” and “Physics Today.”

Because he is on sabbatical in Australia, Thompson could not be reached for comment.

Staff writer Laura Anderson can be reached at

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