Climate scientist James Hurrell named first Walter Scott, Jr. Presidential Chair

James Hurrell will join Colorado State University in September 2018 as the Walter Scott, Jr. Presidential Chair in Environmental Science and Engineering. Hurrell will fill the first of four presidential chairs in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, endowed by a transformational gift from college alumnus Walter Scott, Jr. The four chairs represent the college’s areas of excellence in water, health, energy and the environment.

James Hurrell
James Hurrell, Walter Scott, Jr. Presidential Chair of Environmental Science and Engineering

Hurrell serves as director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, where he is also a senior scientist in the Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. in atmospheric science from Purdue University. Hurrell will be appointed at the rank of professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science.

“We are very excited to have Jim Hurrell join CSU as a Scott Presidential Chair,” said college dean David McLean. “He will contribute significantly to our excellence in research in understanding the impacts of a changing climate on the world around us.”

Climate dynamics and impacts of variability

Hurrell’s research centers on analyses and model simulations of climate, climate variability and climate change. In his position as Walter Scott, Jr. Presidential Chair, Hurrell will continue his fundamental research on climate dynamics and develop collaborations across campus to examine climate impacts on a range of human and natural systems.

“Climate variability and climate change pose risks to many sectors, including agriculture, water, human health, infrastructure, national security, transportation, energy, forests and ecosystems,” said Hurrell. “I am eager to collaborate with CSU researchers working in these areas.”

Hurrell has received numerous awards for his work, including the American Meteorological Society Meisinger Award; the Nansen Memorial Lecture and Medal from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters; and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Purdue College of Science. He is an elected fellow of the American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union, and the Royal Meteorological Society.

“Jim brings exceptional talent, scientific creativity and experience to CSU, and is widely recognized as one of the world’s top climate dynamicists,” said Jeff Collett, chair of the Department of Atmospheric Science. “His scientific accomplishments in the area of climate science are exceptional, and he is completing an extremely successful term as NCAR director.”

Walter Scott, Jr. Presidential Chairs

Presidential chairs are the most prestigious honors CSU awards to faculty members. The faculty named to presidential chairs are selected for their key roles in advancing CSU’s research and educational programs. As the first Scott Presidential Chair, Hurrell is eager to establish an internationally recognized research program, through which he will help educate and develop the next generation of scholars.

The appointment of four presidential chairs, starting with Hurrell, is part of a generous gift from Walter Scott, Jr., for whom the college was named in 2017. The college is in the process of identifying candidates for the three remaining positions in water, health and energy.