Colorado State Professor Honored with Special Nsf Creativity Award to Address Problems of Severe Weather, Examine Turbulence

A Colorado State University professor has been granted a unique and prestigious $400,000 Special Creativity Award by the National Science Foundation to enhance severe storm-related research, including analyzing flood-producing storms and the causes of atmospheric turbulence. Atmospheric science Professor Richard Johnson received the grant to continue and augment his innovative research project through 2005.

"I am extremely appreciative of this award," said Johnson. "I think this honor reflects the high quality of research conducted at Colorado State’s atmospheric science department and the outstanding work of graduate students and staff in my research group."

The Special Creativity Award is provided as a supplemental grant to outstanding scientists already conducting NSF-funded research. The grant, initiated by officers of the NSF, cannot be applied for and is offered only to the most creative investigators as an opportunity to address new, adventurous, high-risk opportunities in the same general research area covered by the original proposal.

"The Special Creativity Award is a great honor and recognizes Dr. Johnson’s outstanding research and leadership in the field," said department head Steven Rutledge. "This award is given by NSF only to scientists who have a proven history of producing excellent research results."

Johnson’s current NSF-funded research involves the study of precipitation systems in the tropics, middle latitudes and monsoon regions as they relate to severe storms and floods to determine the inner workings of such storms and improve forecasting. The Special Creativity grant is allowing Johnson to extend his research into upper level jet streams to examine problems associated with turbulence.

"Severe turbulence is a major problem, and injuries on airplanes from turbulence continue to be an aviation safety concern," said Johnson. "Our new research being funded by the Special Creativity grant will help determine what causes turbulence, how to better detect it and could help reduce turbulence-related injuries and aircraft damage."

Johnson joined Colorado State’s Department of Atmospheric Science faculty in 1980.

He has served as a lead scientist for the Tropical Ocean Global Atmospheric Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Response Experiment, the South China Sea Monsoon Experiment as well as several other field expeditions and projects.

Among his many professional achievements, Johnson served as a co-chief editor of the Journal of Atmospheric Science and recently as a member of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Board of Trustees. He is the author or co-author of chapters of five books and has published more than 70 refereed papers in science and academic journals.