Elizabeth Barnes receives AMS Meisinger Award for early career research

Elizabeth Barnes, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University
Elizabeth Barnes, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University

In the short seven years since earning her Ph.D., Department of Atmospheric Science Associate Professor Elizabeth (Libby) Barnes has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the climate system. In recognition of her research on extratropical circulation and its response to climate change, Barnes will receive a highly competitive, national award from the American Meteorological Society (AMS) at its Centennial Meeting in Boston in January. The Clarence Leroy Meisinger Award, given annually to an early career researcher, acknowledges achievement concerning the observation, theory and modeling of atmospheric motions on all scales.

“This is such an honor and honestly, a bit overwhelming!” said Barnes. “Looking at the past award recipients (which go all the way back to 1938), I see that I am joining an already long list of past and present CSU stars!”

Among those stars is Department of Atmospheric Science Professor Dave Thompson, who received the Meisinger Award in 2008. Thompson nominated Barnes for the award this year, along with several letters of support from her colleagues around the world.

“As the letter writers also attest, [Barnes’] research is highly creative, technically rigorous, and addresses problems of fundamental scientific and societal importance,” Thompson said. “The climate community in general – and CSU in particular – are lucky to include such a singular talent.”

Barnes’ research covers atmospheric dynamics and variability under different climates, including subseasonal-to-seasonal prediction of extreme weather and the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. The past few years she also has focused on the data analysis tools themselves by applying new techniques in statistics and machine learning to advance climate research.

In 2018 Barnes also received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a prestigious grant that supports early-career faculty who serve as academic role models in research and education. Among Barnes’ other honors are the George T. Abell Outstanding Early-Career Faculty Award from the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering and an Outstanding Professor of the Year Award, chosen by students within the department.

Department founder Herbert Riehl was the first from the department to receive the Meisinger Award in 1947, followed by Emeritus Professor Roger Pielke in 1977, University Distinguished Professor Dave Randall in 1994, and former faculty member Michael Montgomery in 2003. Professor and Scott Presidential Chair in Environmental Science and Engineering James Hurrell also was selected for the award in 2001, before joining the department.