NOAA 2002-092
Contact: Barbara McGehan
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Two researchers, Steven S. Brown and Thomas M. Hamill from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Boulder, Colo., laboratories, received presidential early career awards for up-and-coming federal scientists during a White House ceremony on July 12.

"It is gratifying to see young scientists such as these two earn such recognition this early in their careers," said Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr. USN (ret.), NOAA administrator. "I know that this is just the beginning and we will see great things from these young men that will benefit the American people."

Brown from NOAA's Aeronomy Laboratory, and Hamill from NOAA's Climate Diagnostics Center, were among 60 young scientists nationwide to receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government upon outstanding scientists and engineers at the beginning of their careers. Both scientists are research associates with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, a Joint Institute between NOAA and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Brown, an atmospheric chemist, was recognized for the excellence of his scientific work both in laboratory investigations and in field studies of the earth's atmosphere. He pioneered the use of an entirely new method for detection of trace atmospheric constituents. Using the "cavity ring-down spectrometer," he has measured previously inaccessible short-lived and highly reactive chemicals in the atmosphere. Through subsequent innovations in the instrument design, Brown improved the sensitivity of the technique by over two orders of magnitude. This opened the door to the measurement of chemicals that are present in the atmosphere in very trace amounts, for example, the very first measurements of some key members of the nitrogen oxides family. His research directly address important national issues such as regional air quality and global issues such as stratospheric ozone depletion and climate alterations.

Brown received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.

Hamill, a meteorologist, was recognized for research in understanding what causes errors in weather forecasts. With a doctorate in atmospheric science from Cornell University, Hamill studies ensemble weather forecasting. Previously, forecasters relied on their computers to produce one best guess at tomorrow's weather. Under ensemble forecasting, computers are used to generate multiple possible forecasts of what tomorrow's weather may be. This technique is useful for estimating the uncertainty in the forecast. Hamill's research focuses on new ways of making these parallel forecasts and how to use these groups of forecasts to make accurate probabilistic forecasts. Ensemble prediction is an important area of research because it offers the best hope to improve the accuracy of extended weather forecasts (7-14 days) and short-range climate forecasts (14-30 days).

The award recognizes exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge, and is intended to foster innovative and far-reaching developments in science and technology, increase awareness of careers in science and engineering, give recognition to the scientific missions of participating federal agencies, enhance the connections between fundamental research and national goals, and highlight the importance of science and technology for the nation's future.

The scientists will each receive a total stipend of $50,000, which will be distributed over the next 5 years and will be used to further their research. Both reside in Boulder.

For additional information about the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, consult their website at

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