Konrad Steffen, CIRES Director (2005-2012)
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). First a few words about myself - I was born and raised in Zürich, Switzerland, where I spent my first nine school years. Then I spent some time in a boarding school in the French part of Switzerland – we even had our own vineyard (Vin de Vieux Châtel, Neuchâtel). After completing the federal baccalaureate I entered the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) to study electrical engineering. After two semesters I changed to natural sciences and continued my education in climatology and meteorology. After finishing my PhD on Arctic climatology in the Northern Baffin Bay, and several years teaching at ETH, I moved to Boulder to join CIRES and accepted a Faculty position in 1991.
CIRES is a very diverse research institute, engaged in collaborative research between the University of Colorado at Boulder [ About CU ] and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [ About NOAA ] . As the largest of seven institutes on the University of Colorado (CU) campus and the largest of all NOAA institutes nationwide, CIRES comprises over 400 researchers and staff, and an additional 120 graduate and undergraduate students conducting multi and interdisciplinary research in Earth Systems Science.
As we enter the 21st century, the demands of increasing population coupled with variability in our natural environment are placing society and earth’s natural resources at greater risk. This is where we foresee the major scientific contributions of CIRES given the strong disciplinary expertise in the physical, chemical, and biological sciences related to environmental processes, and the existing foundation of interdisciplinary research. Further, strong programs in Earth system monitoring, problem definition and expert interpretation of observational evidence are cornerstones of CIRES research. We have to build on our strengths, which are the physical sciences related to our environment.
Our current vision statement states that CIRES is a recognized leader in innovative earth systems science research and education committed to integrating and reporting its findings in a meaningful context for improving public awareness of sustainability and applying science toward serving society. We are committed to maintaining national and international leadership in earth system sciences in focusing our energies and resources in supporting and attracting the best scientists in that field.