Press Release

Goddard Scientist Honored with AMS’ Anderson Award

By SpaceRef Editor
May 4, 2001
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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center research scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson has been awarded the Charles F. Anderson Award by the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The Anderson award is given to an individual or organization in recognition of outstanding and/or extraordinary contributions to the promotion of educational outreach, educational service, and diversity in the AMS and broader communities.

Simpson is Goddard’s chief scientist for Meteorology and the former project scientist for the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Observatory. Simpson came to Goddard in 1979, on leave from the William Corcoran Professorship at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She came as branch head of the Severe Storms Branch in the Goddard Laboratory for Atmospheric Sciences. The research consisted of combined modeling and observations of severe storm systems both in the tropics and mid-latitudes, using aircraft as well as satellite data.

Simpson continued her development of computer simulations of cloud processes, which advanced rapidly when Dr. W. K. Tao joined the branch in 1981. Tao was the first meteorologist to develop a model of cloud ensembles or groups rather than just single clouds. In 1986, she became TRMM project scientist and also served as the chief scientist for the Laboratory for Atmospheres. She became chief scientist for Meteorology in the Earth Sciences Directorate in 1988 and was selected as a Goddard Senior Fellow in 1988.

Prior to coming to Goddard, Simpson held several positions including professor of Meteorology at UCLA, director of the Experimental Meteorology Laboratory at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Washington, D.C., and W.W. Corcoran Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Virginia.

Simpson pioneered research in cloud modeling, tropical cyclones and sea-air interaction. She was one of the first meteorologists to instrument aircraft and fly through cloud systems, including hurricanes, to test her theories. She has written more than 180 in papers on tropical meteorology, tropical cloud systems, modeling of tropical storms and tropical rain measurement from space.

Simpson received her bachelor’s of science (1943), master’s of science (1945); and Ph.D. (1949) degrees in Meteorology, all from the University of Chicago. She was the world’s first woman to obtain a Ph.D. in Meteorology. She was selected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1988. She worked as President of the American Meteorological Society in 1989, and was chosen an Honorary Member of the Society in 1995.

Simpson’s other awards include the Rossby Research Medal, the highest award of the American Meteorological Society, which she received in 1983, and Goddard’s first Nordberg Award for Earth Sciences in 1994. Throughout her career, Dr. Simpson has been instrumental in promoting diversity within the Society and the greater scientific community and for mentoring young professionals and guiding them toward successful careers. She was a Charter member of the AMS Board on Women and Minorities in the early 1970’s.

Simpson and her husband live in Washington D.C. They have five children, six grandchildren, and two cats.

The AMS, founded in 1919, is a scientific and professional organization that promotes the development and dissemination of information on atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrologic sciences. The Society publishes nine well-respected scientific journals, sponsors scientific conferences, and supports public education programs across the country. Additional information on the AMS, the Annual Meeting, and other award winners is available on the Internet at:

SpaceRef staff editor.