Meteorology graduate wins prestigious federal award for early career research

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A meteorology graduate from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University was one of the young scientists and engineers honored by President Obama at the White House April 14.

Adam Clark, three meteorology degrees

Adam Clark, who earned his B.S., M.S., Ph.D. degrees in meteorology from ISU, was one of the 102 researchers to receive Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The award is the highest honor given by the federal government to outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their research careers.

PECASE awardees, according to the White House, are "selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach."

Clark is with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, and he works at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla.

He was the 2009 recipient of ISU’s Zaffarano Prize for Graduate Student Research, which recognizes superior performance in publishable research by an ISU grad student.

Bill Gallus, professor of atmospheric sciences, was Clark’s master’s and doctoral adviser. Adam was an amazing student while here," Gallus said, "which is why he became one of the few non-chemist, non-physicist students to get the Zaffarano prize. He ended up being an author or coauthor on eight papers while working on his degrees. And he was selected to teach our Dynamics I course while the instructor was on sabbatical.

He somehow did all of this and managed to get both degrees in a total of five years, which is about the fastest anyone has accomplished that."

Gallus added that Clark has become a leader in the annual NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed Spring Experiment, which brings visitors from National Weather Service forecast offices and universities to test state-of-the-art ways to improve the forecasting of severe storms during May and June.

"I hear nothing but praise about him from the many scientists he works with down there," Gallus added.

A NOAA news release said Clark was recognized for his work developing the next generation of weather models that will predict individual thunderstorms over large parts of the globe.

"Clark and his team are finding innovative ways to extract useful information from these detailed models, including a method that helps forecasters better predict the severity of tornado outbreaks. Clark also studies the quality of the weather models, and looks for ways to make them more accurate. His work is part of the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research project to increase tornado, severe thunderstorm and flash flood warning lead-times, ultimately saving lives and protecting property. These significant contributions help NOAA work toward its goal of creating a Weather Ready Nation. Clark is also being honored for his role as a mentor for students working in the field of research meteorology. He earned his doctorate, master’s and bachelor of science degrees in meteorology from Iowa State University."

See the NOAA news release