Colorado State Professor Awarded Outstanding Young Scientist Medal from American Geophysical Union

David Thompson, assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, has been awarded the prestigious American Geophysical Union’s 2004 James B. Macelwane Medal that recognizes significant contributions to the geophysical sciences by an outstanding young scientist. The award is one of AGU’s top honors.

"The Macelwane award is presented annually only to the world’s best and brightest researchers under 36 years old," said Steven Rutledge, head of the atmospheric science department at Colorado State. "David Thompson has already made great accomplishments in his young career leading to enhanced understanding of atmospheric variability and climate, and we are thrilled that he is being justly recognized among his peers for this outstanding work. It’s quite an honor for the department and entire university as well."

Thompson will officially receive the honor at the annual AGU fall meeting Dec. 13-17 in San Francisco.

"I feel indebted to all the wonderful teachers I have had throughout my life," said Thompson. "I feel lucky to work in such an interesting field with such great peers."

Thompson’s current work emphasizes improving understanding of global climate variability using observational data. His research interests include large-scale atmospheric dynamics, climate change, climate impacts, decadal climate variability and ocean-atmosphere interactions. Thompson’s recent publications have contributed to improved understanding of large-scale modes of month-to-month variability in the atmosphere and the signature of these modes in recent climate trends. For more information about Thompson’s research, visit his Arctic oscillation/annular mode Web site at

Thompson has published more than 15 peer-reviewed journal articles in publications such as Science Magazine, Physics Today and the Journal of Climate. Some of his recent work has additionally received national media attention in National Geographic, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Denver Post and several other outlets.      

Thompson received a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado in 1994 and master’s and doctoral degrees in atmospheric sciences from the University of Washington in 1998 and 2000. He joined the atmospheric science faculty at Colorado State in 2001.

Established in 1961 and renamed in 1986 in honor of James B. Macelwane, the medal honors young scientists for outstanding ability in geophysics. Macelwane, a seismologist at Saint Louis University and the 13th president of AGU (1953-1956), was renowned for his contributions to geophysics and his deep interest in teaching and encouraging young scientists.

AGU is a worldwide scientific community that advances the understanding of Earth and space for the benefit of humanity. The non-profit organization was established in 1919 and has evolved into an active community of more than 41,000 scientists from 130 countries. AGU stands as a leader in the increasingly interdisciplinary global endeavor that encompasses the geophysical sciences. For more information, visit the AGU Web site at