Colorado State Programs & People

Thompson is one of the "Brilliant 10"

Published June 2007

Popular Science magazine has named David Thompson, atmospheric science associate professor at Colorado State, one of the "Brilliant 10" young scientists to watch.

Professor David Thompson

"This is wonderful recognition of Dr. Thompson and the very important research occurring in our atmospheric science department," said Tony Frank, provost and senior vice president. "He epitomizes the commitment of faculty at Colorado State University to foster excellence in research."

Mavericks and young guns

Popular Science refers to the "Brilliant 10" as mavericks and young guns: "The eventual winners are young ... and each is just beginning to be noticed in the world outside their respective fields. But among their peers, our winners' oft-radical ideas are generating a rare degree of respect and admiration. ... And for that, they deserve to be part of our Brilliant 10."

Other scientists named in Popular Science are from such institutions as Harvard University, Carnegie Mellon University, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology-Lausanne and the University of California-Los Angeles. The feature on Thompson focuses on his role in discovery of the El NiƱo of the North, a climate system that engulfs the top third of the planet.

The latest in a string of honors

"The honor is nice in that it highlights climate research to a relatively wide audience," Thompson said. "But receiving an individual honor feels a little awkward, too, since all of my work is done in collaboration with my peers."

David Thompson, Ph.D.

In 2006, Thompson was honored with the prestigious Monfort Professor Award, one of the university's top honors, and in 2005, Time magazine named Thompson one of the leading innovators in the science community.

In 2004, Thompson was awarded the American Geophysical Union's James B. Macelwane Medal in recognition of his contributions to the geophysical sciences by an outstanding young scientist. His many other honors include the NASA Earth System Science Fellowship, an NSF CAREER award and the NOAA OAR Outstanding Scientific Paper Award.

Thompson's research

Thompson's current work emphasizes improving understanding of global climate variability using observational data. His recent publications have contributed to improved understanding of large-scale modes of month-to-month variability in the atmosphere and the signature of these modes in recent climate trends.

He has published more than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles in publications such as Science Magazine, Physics Today and the Journal of Climate. Some of his work has received national media attention in such publications as National Geographic, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

"Our Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State has celebrated more than 40 years of excellence in graduate education and cutting-edge research," said Sandra Woods, dean of the College of Engineering. "David's outstanding scientific discoveries contribute to that reputation and the department's standing as a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence at Colorado State."

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