Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences
Wednesday, July 3, 2019

CIRES, NOAA Scientists Receive Presidential Honor

portraits of three scientists

The White House has named three Boulder atmospheric scientists among 309 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. The PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers. 

Brian McDonald and Andrew Rollins were both working with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder when nominated; Rollins is now a federal scientist at NOAA. Their colleague Andrew Hoell of NOAA in Boulder, Colorado, was also honored.

“We’re thrilled that Brian and Andrew are being recognized for their pioneering work at CIRES,” said Terri Fiez, CU Boulder’s vice chancellor for research and innovation. “By advancing scientific understanding of our dynamic relationship with the planet, their leadership is paving the way for future innovations with the potential to transform communities in Colorado and across the world.”

A researcher who works in NOAA’s Chemical Sciences Laboratory, Brian McDonald has earned attention in recent years for elegant work to understand the sources of atmospheric pollutants that contribute to poor air quality and impact climate. He and his colleagues published work in Science, for example, finding that consumer and industrial products now rival vehicles as the top source of urban air pollution. 

Andrew Rollins also works in NOAA’s Chemical Sciences Laboratory and became a federal scientist last year. He develops upper atmosphere instruments that can detect very small quantities of water vapor, an important greenhouse gas, and sulfur dioxide from anthropogenic and natural sources including volcanic eruptions, both of which influence Earth’s climate.

“Brian McDonald and Andrew Rollins are innovative and accomplished early career scientists, credited with major advances in atmospheric modeling and observational systems,” said David Fahey, Director of NOAA’s Chemical Sciences Laboratory. “Winning these PECASE Awards is highly satisfying news.”

Andrew Hoell is a research meteorologist in NOAA’s Physical Sciences Laboratory whose work focuses on drought, including predictability of food and water insecurity and impacts on communities around the world. 

Established in 1996, the PECASE acknowledges the contributions scientists and engineers have made to the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and to community service as demonstrated by scientific leadership, public education, and community outreach.  

McDonald and Rollins join several other CIRES researchers who have won the PECASE in recent years: Anne Perring earned a PECASE in 2017; Gijs deBoer won the award in 2016; and David Noone and Rebecca Washenfelder won recognition in 2012.