Thursday, October 17, 2013

Recognition awards

This has been my year for awards, it seems.  In June, at the European Severe Storms Conference in Helsinki, Finland, I was honored with the Nikolai Dotzek Award of the European Severe Storms Laboratory.  This is a very special and unexpected thrill for me, in part because the late Nikolai Dotzek for whom the award is named was a close friend and valued colleague. 

The "trophy" for the award is a replica of a giant hailstone (I'm holding it in the photo - with ESSL staff, left to right:  Dr. Pieter Groenemeijer - Director; Dr. Kathrin Riemann-Campe - Deputy Director; and Alois Holtzer - Treasurer), and there's a large certificate which states I received the award for "lifetime achievement in severe convective storms research".  I was flabbergasted to be selected to receive this and had uncharacteristically little to say, I was so much in shock.  Thank you so much, my European friends and colleagues!  I'm still stunned ...

A few weeks ago, I was notified that I'd been selected by the National Weather Association to receive a Special Lifetime Achievement Award for "his exceptional service and contributions to the operational forecasting and research communities through high–quality scientific research, educational workshops, and mentorship of colleagues and students". The NWA is primarily associated with operational weather forecasting (public and private), so this award has a very special significance to me - I 've always felt that the lion's share of my work was inspired by and aimed at providing help to operational weather forecasters as they deal with the most challenging task in meteorology: forecasting the weather.  Owing to the uncertainties associated with the government 'shutdown' this fall, I cancelled my trip to Charleston, SC to receive my award in person.  It appeared likely that many of my National Weather Service colleagues would be unable to attend and this award is so much for them, I couldn't justify to myself attending the conference just to have my ego stroked.  Perhaps next year, I can go to the NWA Annual Meeting and receive it then as a 'holdover'.

The outpouring ot congratulations for my awards has been overwhelming and very much appreciated.  Some years ago, I wrote a Web essay about awards and much of what I said still applies.  But this recent experience has caused me to see all this in a somewhat different light.  A number of my friends and colleagues also have been recognized by the NWA recently (Rick Smith, Bill Read, Prof. Lance Bosart, Prof. Paul Markowski, Dr. Matt Bunkers, et al.), and in their cases, they have all been very deserving of that recognition.  It truly makes me happier to see my friends receive recognition than to be recognized myself.  The work has always been my primary reward and it has never failed to justify the time and effort I've expended on behalf of advancing my profession by whatever means I possess.  It has been an honor just to have a career in science.  Whether or not I receive awards is much less important to me than the work itself.  When deserving colleagues and friends are recognized, I'm so happy to see them receive their due honors - so evidently many of my friends and colleagues have been pleased to see me get recognition for a career spent in service to the science.  Thank you so much, my friends!  I can't even begin to find words for how wonderful this makes me feel!

And I have to say that while I've been singled out for recognition, I believe no one can dispute that I've benefited from some wonderful mentors and role models, been blessed to have worked with some incredibly gifted and dedicated research colleagues, and had the support of many technical staffers who have labored mostly without recognition for their contributions to what I have managed to accomplish.  This award has my name on it, but many, many people have helped me to become a contributing scientist and so this award is also their award.  They should all know that I've  appreciated and acknowledged their many diverse contributions.  My forecaster colleagues have always truly been my inspiration - despite the difficulties and challenges that come with that job, your dedication to public service has not gone unnoticed or without gratitude for your sacrifices.