Q&A with new Atmospheric Science Department Head Eric Maloney

Casual portrait of Eric Maloney in his office.
Atmospheric Science Professor and Department Head Eric Maloney

Professor Eric Maloney stepped into the leadership role of Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science July 1 following Professor Jeff Collett’s 11 years of service as department head.

“While it is a daunting and humbling task to lead a world-class department such as our own, I look forward to the challenge,” Maloney said in response to the opportunity to become the department’s ninth leader.

Maloney has served as associate department head for three years, working with faculty, students and staff to recruit the next generation of Atmospheric Science students, enhance the student learning environment, address curricular issues and act as an adviser to the department head.

During this time, he led the department’s successful effort to join the American Geophysical Union’s Bridge program to improve recruitment and retention of STEM graduate students from historically underrepresented groups. He also led the department’s initiative to eliminate the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) requirement for admission and implement a more holistic application review process.

“While we have made great strides in advancing diversity and inclusion in the department, there is clearly more that needs to be done,” Maloney said.

Maloney said his vision for the department is to maintain and grow its ability to address critical societal challenges, address the changing educational needs of today’s students, and foster a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Maloney joined the department faculty in 2008. He received his Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington in 2000.

His research addresses challenges in tropical meteorology, climate dynamics, subseasonal prediction and ocean-atmosphere interaction and has been funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, NOAA and the Office of Naval Research.

Maloney has developed and taught courses on climate dynamics, tropical meteorology, ocean-atmosphere interaction and weather. He has been recognized twice as “Professor of the Year” by Atmospheric Science students.

Maloney offered these responses to a few questions from Engineering SOURCE.

Are there any specific areas or initiatives you intend to focus on as department head?

Our society is seeing increasing environmental challenges, including climate change, fire risk and extreme events at the nexus of weather and climate. As a department that is a leader in weather, climate, remote sensing, atmospheric chemistry, air quality, data science and sustainability, among other areas, I hope to foster work within the department and through connections across campus to find creative ways to address such societal challenges.

Our graduate students are essential to the success of our department. I hope to continue and expand the steps we have taken to foster student success, including enhanced mentoring, professional development and addressing mental health.

What are you most looking forward to about this role?

The array of world leaders in atmospheric science among the faculty and research scientists in our department is truly impressive. Working with these outstanding scientists to solve some of society’s most pressing environmental challenges is exciting.

Is there anything you would like to say about Jeff Collett’s tenure in this position?

Our department is widely considered a world leader in no small part due to what Jeff has helped build over the last decade. He has provided creative, inspirational and visionary leadership through both good and extremely challenging times over the last 11 years that will be hard to match.

Possibly the most important thing that has struck me about Jeff is that he genuinely cares about the faculty, research scientists, staff and students in the department. I can’t thank him enough and promise not to bother him too much for advice over the next several years. Although given Jeff’s generous nature, he even encouraged me to do that.

Is there anything else you want to add?

Only that I look forward to seeing what the next five years bring for our department.