ATMOS Celebration

There was a lot to salute March 18th when the Department of Atmospheric Sciences met for its 75th anniversary celebration. The event took place at the Bill & Pat Child Family Community Hall of the University of Utah's Eccles School of Business. Atmospherically, it could not have been better: a clear night with a dramatic sun setting, a few wispy clouds that thickened over the Great Salt Lake and delicately hedged a river of blood-red light that dropped to the lakebed. From the outdoor patio there was a 180 degree view of the valley from the pencil drawn profile of the Oquirrh range west to the frenetic electric lights of University Health campus to the east; from the jeweled-top Capitol Building to the north to a pristine-looking valley south, ending at Traverse Mountain above Draper and "point of the mountain."

The stunning evening sky from seven stories up was a reminder of the endless fascination of the science of the atmosphere and the legacy of the department. You can watch a cool video of the event here.

Inside was even more spectacular as about 150 participants gathered for a sit-down dinner and a program that featured live music and generations of ATMOS faculty, staff and alumni. Research and lab posters graced the expansive lobby and a digital photo booth featured the U's mascot Swoop who cajoled and arm wrestled nearly everyone into getting photos with him.

Chair John Horel was the master of ceremonies. The program included a video--part extreme ski vid melting into a discussion about the eventual repository of snowmelt in the shrinking Great Salt Lake--featuring accomplished skier and graduate student Thorn Merrill. Guest speakers included Jan and Julia Nogues Paegle who came to the department in the 60s as well as staff emerita Leslie Allaire. Three other former chairs were present, including Kevin Perry, Jim Steenburgh and, the most senior, Ed Zipser who generously provided a matching donation for all gifts donated to the department in advance of the U's annual Giving Day campaign. (You can donate to the Department's scholarship fund here.)

Participants were given an update on the much-anticipated Applied Science Project, the new home of ATMOS in the Crocker Science Complex.

The evening ended with faculty member John Lin's illustrated history of the department's research legacy in air quality. Lin's sleuthing in the Marriott Library led him to the papers of former chair Shi-Kung Kao whose foundational work in air quality measurements has elevated not only the current research in the area at the department, but established Salt Lake City as arguably the best urban center for studying air quality year round.

The future of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences looks bright as was detailed in a commemorative 75th anniversary publication Air Currents, hard copies of which were available at the celebration. In addition to a history of the department, stories about student experiential learning, alumni,  the Storm Peak Laboratory in Colorado, dust lofting at the Great Salt Lake and one of the newest faculty members Jessica Haskins were all penned for the occasion.

Afterwards, it was back to work. The next 75 years are calling.

Many thanks go to ATMOS' Alex Munoz for coordinating the event.


By David Pace | Science Writer
College of Science

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