Stephen Nesbitt

Professor Stephen Nesbitt.

Stephen Nesbitt announced as 2023 Distinguished Alumnus by U’s Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences.

Professor Stephen Nesbitt, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is being recognized for his “Outstanding contributions to improving understanding of clouds, precipitation, and mesoscale processes around the globe through field, remote sensing, and modeling studies.”

Nesbitt will be visiting the U campus Wednesday, January 25 and presenting a seminar at 3:00 PM in 110 INSCC titled “Why Are the Most Intense Thunderstorms Where They Are on Earth?”

Nesbitt arrived at the U in 1999 and completed his Ph.D. in Meteorology in 2003 after undergraduate and graduate studies at the State University of New York College at Oswego and Texas A&M University, respectively. He studied with Professor Edward Zipser at the U, analyzing Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) radar imagery.

A native of the snowbelt region of Upstate New York, Nesbitt first took an interest in the weather as a nine-year-old. “You get goosebumps,” he says, “when you go out and plan an experiment about the things that already excite you and collect data with these amazing instruments to quantify how these things work. I sometimes pinch myself:  how do I get paid to do this?”

He has been on the faculty of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois since 2006 and, in addition to his departmental teaching and research activities, is currently serving as Associate Head and Director of Graduate Studies.

Nesbitt has published over 80 journal articles on wide-ranging topics related to clouds and precipitation. His cloud radar expertise led to coauthoring the text Radar Meteorology, a First Course. He has participated in over 20 field campaigns and was the Principal Investigator of the NSF/NOAA/NASA RELAMPAGO (Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations) and Co-PI of the DOE Clouds, Aerosols, and Complex Terrain Interactions (CACTI) field campaign in Argentina and Brazil during 2018-19.

At Illinois, Nesbitt has mentored over 25 M.S. and Ph.D. students and received awards for his excellent teaching, mentoring, and service. He has participated extensively in service to our atmospheric science community and currently serves as Chief Editor for the Atmosphere Section of the Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology. A critical contribution to our field has been his participation in efforts to broaden participation of students from all backgrounds in field research.

Most importantly, says ATMOS department John Horel, “Steve is a dedicated dad, BBQ grill master, and avid Buffalo Bills fan.”


Story by David Pace. Images by L. Brian Stauffer.

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