College of Engineering Professors Selected as Monfort Professors, One of Colorado State University’s Top Honors

Colorado State University today announced Randy Bartels, electrical engineering assistant professor, and David Thompson, atmospheric science assistant professor, as recipients of the prestigious Monfort Professor Award, one of the university’s top honors.

Bartels and Thompson each will receive $75,000 annually for two years to support innovative teaching and research. The awards, established through a gift from the Monfort Family Foundation, are in addition to salary and support the professors currently receive from Colorado State. The awards were presented at the university’s annual Celebrate Colorado State! Luncheon.

Colorado State President Larry Penley noted that the generosity of the Monfort family in establishing the Monfort Professorships has helped the university retain talented faculty like Bartels and Thompson.

"We are highly grateful for the extraordinary support the Monfort Family Foundation has provided to our institution and our faculty over many years," Penley said. "Private gifts like this are critical in our efforts to sustain a competitive, high-quality learning environment at Colorado State."

"Dr. Thompson and Dr. Bartels are high-caliber teachers and researchers," said Anthony Frank, provost and senior vice president. "We cannot overstate the importance of the research enterprise to economic prosperity and the quality of life for Colorado, the nation and the world. These professors share our passion and vision for addressing global problems at a local level. As with many of our most successful research faculty, they share a passion for involving students in discovery as part of the learning process."

The selection of the Monfort Professors comes from an in-depth selection process that includes nominations from all eight colleges at the university.

With fewer than 100 tenured and tenure-track faculty, the College of Engineering is home to four programs of research and scholarly excellence, two National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers, three University Distinguished Professors and four members of the National Academy of Engineering.

"Our faculty and students create new knowledge and apply engineering principles to solve problems," said Dean Sandra Woods. "With the help of the Monfort family, Randy and David are helping develop the next generation of engineers who are positioned to be leaders in their fields."

The Monfort Professor program results from a $5 million gift to the university in spring 2002 through the Monfort Family Foundation to create enhancements to the university’s faculty, students and educational experience. The gift to Colorado State from the Monfort family and its foundation totals more than $13.1 million.

About the honorees:

Bartels’ work has generated many discoveries in diverse fields. He heads Colorado State’s Laboratory for Ultrafast and Nonlinear Optics, where his research concentrates on the generation and control of short laser pulses and their use for the control of quantum dynamics – to precisely control the positions of atoms in molecules, for example.

His research group is using this newly perfected control over matter to develop new technology to make optical clocks 10,000 times more precise than standard atomic clocks, to develop new molecular-specific imaging techniques that could be harnessed to study molecular function in cells in fundamentally new ways and to drive chemical reactions with specially shaped light pulses that enable the synthesis of chemical compounds not possible by any other techniques.

Bartels has been honored with numerous awards in his career from many disciplines – engineering, physics, chemistry, computer science and optics. Last year, he was named a Sloan Research Fellow in physics, one of the oldest and most prestigious research honors in the nation. He was also named one of the top 18 physicists in the world and was invited to speak at a special symposium held in honor of one of the inventors of the laser, Charles H. Townes, who received a Nobel Prize in physics in 1964. Bartels was also one of a handful of scientists from around the country invited by the National Academies of Science to discuss the future of important areas in U.S. science.

Honoring his research in chemistry, Bartels received a 2005 Beckman Young Investigator award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. For advances in physics and engineering, he received a 2005 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award. And for advancing evolutionary computation, he received the 2005 Gold Medal Human-Competitive Award. In 2004, Bartels received the Optical Society of America Adolph Lomb Medal at the age of 29, which is one of the OSA’s highest honors and is given to an individual who has made substantial contributions to optics before the age of 35. He also received the NSF CAREER Award in 2004, recognizing his early potential for scientific leadership.

Bartels received his doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan in 2002 and joined Colorado State in 2003.

Thompson’s current work emphasizes improving understanding of global climate variability using observational data. His research interests include large-scale atmospheric dynamics – how the large-scale atmosphere organizes itself into patterns and how those patterns affect climate -decadal climate variability and ocean-atmosphere interactions. His 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.

In 2004, he was awarded the prestigious American Geophysical Union’s 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. His many other honors include the NASA Earth System Science Fellowship, an NSF CAREER award and the NOAA OAR Outstanding Scientific Paper Award.

He has published more than 20 peer-reviewed journal articles in publications such as Science Magazine, Physics Today and the Journal of Climate. He was featured in Time magazine in 2005 as one of the leading innovators in the science community. Some of his work has additionally received national media attention in such publications as National Geographic, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

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