American Meteorological Society names award after meteorology pioneer and leader

March 23, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The American Meteorological Society (AMS) recently created a national award in honor of Penn State meteorology alumnus and weather pioneer Warren Washington.

The Warren Washington Research and Leadership Medal will be presented to individuals who are recognized for the combination of highly significant research and distinguished scientific leadership in the atmospheric and related sciences, according to AMS. 

Jenni Evans, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science and director of the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences at Penn State, was thrilled that this new medal was approved when she was president of AMS and that recipients of the Washington medal will be recognized leaders in science and more broadly across the field.

“I am deeply honored to have this medal named after me,” Washington said. “There is a need to have an award honoring those scientists who devote time and energy to both leadership and research.”

Washington, who is a pioneer in climate models, in 1964 became the second African American to receive a doctorate in meteorology.

“Learning that the AMS created a medal in honor of Warren Washington was the highlight of the 2020 AMS annual meeting,” said David Stensrud, head of the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science. “Warren has had a tremendous influence on our field through his groundbreaking research and his dedication to training the next generation of scientists and leaders. He is an inspiration to us all.”

Washington spent his career — which spans more than 50 years — being a mentor to underrepresented members in the field. He worked at University Corporation for Atmospheric Research from 1963 until retiring in 2018.

Washington contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He was awarded the 2009 National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama for his “development and use of global climate models to understand climate and explain the role of human activities and natural processes in the Earth’s climate system” and for his work to support a diverse science and engineering workforce. In 2019, he received the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement with Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences at Penn State. In 2019, Washington became the first “innovator and pioneer” to be recognized by Penn State by having the Warren M. Washington Building named after him.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 15, 2021