SSEC’s David Tobin receives Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research

April 11, 2017 | Jean Phillips

Photo credit: Bryce Richter.

Each spring, the University of Wisconsin-Madison honors a few academic staff members for their exemplary contributions to the university in teaching, service, leadership, outreach, and research – contributions that are rooted in the university’s commitment to public service and sharing knowledge.

Among them this year is David Tobin, a senior scientist at the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) and Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) who was selected from a competitive pool of nominees to receive the 2017 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research as an independent investigator.

Through groundbreaking research in the field of satellite instruments, Tobin has earned a global reputation as a scientist supplying the world with better knowledge of climate trends and hazardous weather. His pioneering work with hyperspectral infrared sounders — instruments that provide critical data for weather forecast models — has increased their accuracy, leading to fewer forecasting errors and giving scientists greater confidence in their research findings.

His fundamental contributions to the study of water vapor and infrared molecular spectroscopy early in his career resulted in a new computer model that is now the standard used in almost all weather and climate forecasting simulations. This work and many subsequent contributions have led to an array of awards, including ones from NASA, the International Radiation Commission, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Within the research community, Tobin is known for his work ethic and, not surprisingly, as an engaging team leader:

“I believe that Dave Tobin’s greatest quality is his capacity for intellectual humility. Although he is an internationally known atmospheric scientist, he is able to put aside this authority to collaboratively engage other team members to understand the truth of a problem. This quality creates an environment where others’ ideas and questions can be openly discussed.”

                                                                                                            Lori Borg, SSEC Researcher

Tobin and the other award winners will be honored at a reception hosted by Chancellor Rebecca Blank.