Sunday, August 9, 2009


A while back, I wrote an essay about career awards. This blog is more about the general topic of recognition for contributions to one's profession. I recently was the recipient of an email from a long-time friend, who felt the need to thank me for what I've accomplished as a professional. This was something of a "bolt from the blue" and I'm very pleased that someone would take the time to thank me for my professional contributions. It's more of an honor in my eyes than some certificate from a professional society. The only opinion of me that has ever mattered has been that of my peers - the people who love being involved with and learning about the weather. Their respect and recognition is something I've worked to try to earn, so whenever I receive such a message, I'm grateful to know that I've managed to hit that mark.

In the end, of course, the ultimate reward for me has been the work itself. I've had the great fortune to have been able to work in this profession for more than 35 years and along the way have been blessed with colleagues who have worked with me on projects of mutual interest. Those colleagues have been a great inspiration and awesome collaborators: Bob Maddox, Al Moller, Stan Barnes, Fernando Caracena, Harold Brooks, Ken Crawford, Barry Schwartz, Lance Leslie, Mike Richman, Fred Sanders, Dave Schultz, Lance Bosart, Les Lemon, Paul Markowski, and many others. The opportunity to work with such people has been an honor for me and I hope my efforts have provided at least some measure of substance in return for all that I've gained by the privilege of my professional efforts with them. Recognition beyond that seems superfluous, although when a colleague or friend takes the time to thank me, it's always a wonderful thing.

My graduate advisor, Yoshi Sasaki, made it very clear to me that the greatest reward a professional can have is to be able to make contributions to the field you've chosen. It's the best way to say "thank you" to those who inspired you and mentored you along the way - go out and become the best professional contributor you can be. Use your talents and hard work to achieve something substantial and it makes the work of an educator / mentor well worth whatever effort was involved in getting you to the point where you could make such contributons. And even more than that, a great thing you can do with what you've been so blessed to receive in the way of encouragement, inspiration, and mentorship is to pass it on. Serve as inspiration and encouragement to someone else.

Professional success came to me much earlier in my career than I expected, so I had to seek new goals. By now, I've achieved even those new goals, but not solely by my own efforts - rather, it's been with great pride that students and colleagues I've worked with have achieved far more than I could ever have done on my own. It just doesn't get any better than that. If I get run over by a truck tomorrow, I can pass on as a happy man.

If there were a professional meteorological Hall of Fame, then that would become some measure of achievement. But since such a thing doesn't exist - and I'm certainly not suggesting it should - its formal recognition would still pale in comparison with the respect of professional peers for one's body of work. I never worked to achieve recognition beyond that respect from my peers. That some of them have taken the time to let me know that they value what I've done is more than enough recognition for me.