Skip Navigation

College of Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences

Skip Carousel Content
Skip Side Navigation

Welcome from the A&GS Dean's Office

Front Row, from left to right:  Leslie Illston, Development & Alumni Relations; Jenny Spade, Staff Assistant; Christine Reed, NWC Librarian; Claire Chastain, Event Manager; Berrien Moore, Dean; Mary Anne Hempe, Assistant Dean; Debbie Farris, Administrative Manager; Tanya Guthrie, Finance & Operations; Lee Anne Sallee, Executive Assistant. Second Row, from left to right:  Jim Davis, A/V Engineer; Kyle Sandidge, NWC Facility Manager; Jason Glass, Technology Coordinator; Petra Klein, Associate Dean; Greg Leffler, Shipping & Receiving Tech; Heather Murphy, Finance & Operations; Boye Ladd, External Relations.

A&GS Friends Society

To support the amazing activities happening within the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences, the College and its Board of Visitors is proud to establish the Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences Friends Society. Funds raised from memberships will be used to support the educational learning experience for the college’s students, faculty, and staff.

Benefits of membership include an annual membership party, AGU and AMS reception tickets, as well as special access to College events. We encourage you to make a financial contribution to support these worthy efforts and to get involved with our friends!

Membership Levels:                        

$100 Annual Member (annual membership fee)
$500 Supporting Member (annual membership fee)
$1,000 per year Sustaining Member (5 year commitment)
$2,000 per year Founding Member (5 year commitment)

Click here to join

Thank you to the following Founding Members who helped start this great group:

Edwin Adlerman, Fred Carr, James Davis, Claude Duchon, Mike Eilts, Joe Friday, Jeff Kimpel, Mohan Ramamurthy, Vicki & Lynn Rose, John Snow, and Chuck Thompson

A&GS Spotlights

Showcasing Students, Alumni, Faculty, and Friends of the College

Dr. Phillip Chilson

From radars to autonomous vehicles, and all the sky in between, Dr. Phillip Chilson has seen and studied the lower atmosphere from just about every angle. As a child, Phillip Chilson wanted to be a meteorologist, but in high school his attention moved to physics. He got his undergraduate degree in physics from Clemson University, then went to Germany on a Fulbright scholarship and worked in a nuclear research facility for a year. Afterward Chilson did a Master’s in physics at the University of Florida while also working in a temperature and physics lab. When Chilson applied for a PhD, there was an opportunity to do atmospheric physics. “That seemed like a good way to merge my childhood passion with the physics track I was going,” he said. 

For his PhD topic Chilson was using MST radars, which stands for mesosphere, stratosphere and troposphere, to study the three lowest layers of the atmosphere. He was looking at exploring different ways of improving the functionality of radars in Puerto Rico and Japan.

Chilson had an opportunity to go to Germany again for a postdoc for three years to use radars to study the atmosphere. After the postdoc, he accepted a job opening to go to northern Sweden, right above the arctic circle. “It was gorgeous, peaceful, the people were very down to earth, you can get back to nature,” said Chilson. “Of course, it was cold, you had eight months of winter. The coldest I experienced was -40 .” 

After returning from Sweden, Chilson got a position working at a NOAA laboratory in Boulder Colorado. Here he was using radar to study the atmosphere. Then in 2005 he came to OU to be a professor in the School of Meteorology where he later established the Center for Autonomous Sensing and Sampling, or CASS. The purpose of the center is to find better ways of exploring small scale features and determining what is happening in the atmosphere. While in Boulder, Chilson used a type of radar that was for looking at the lowest 2-3 kilometers of the earth's atmosphere, or the atmospheric boundary layer. These lower layers are difficult to study because they are complex, non-homogenous, and they change rapidly.

When Chilson came to OU he decided to do adaption of more weather radar research. He was inspired to implement new techniques for measuring the lower atmosphere after attending a conference. “In 2008 I was attending a conference in Europe and there was a group from Norway giving a presentation on using a small UAV for doing atmospheric measurements in the lower atmosphere. It seemed very intriguing to me, so I went and talked to the person presenting. He gave me a bit of information and I came back and started doing those types of measurements here and it's been growing momentum as we keep going,” said Chilson. “Now we're to the point where were getting funding from different agencies, like the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and NASA.” 

Chilson and CASS are not just using drones for atmospheric measurements, but rather any kind of autonomous vehicles. “We even developed an autonomous boat for doing studies of the different depth of water features in Oklahoma, and also measure how fast the water is moving,” said Chilson. 

Some recent projects, spearheaded by Chilson, sent several OU students around the world. 

During February of last year their team went to Finland to participate in a European Field Campaign for studying stable atmospheric boundary layers. They were the only non-European team, participating with teams from Germany, Finland, and Norway. The campaign took place on a little Island just off the coast of Finland, where the ocean had frozen up around the island. They went out on the sea ice with an instrument developed at CASS called the coptersonde. It's designed for doing atmospheric measurements and can register pressure, temperature, humidity, wind speed, and wind direction. 

In the Summer 2018 Chilson went to the San Luis Valley in Colorado with a large team of several undergraduate and graduate students. In coordination with teams from around the world, they collectively registered 1200 flights, making it possibly the largest UAF drone mission or campaign for the atmosphere that's ever-taken place. 

The thing that has been missing in atmospheric research are better measurements for the first 1-2 kilometers from the earth. This new technology from CASS allows researchers to collect data in a very precise and surgical way, which will hopefully improve forecasting. Chilson is excited to lead the CASS team towards new explorations and discoveries.

OU Wins $4.5 Million Science Center

December 9, 2019

We are excited to announce that the University of Oklahoma (OU) will continue to host the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center for the next 5 years! This extension was made possible after we won a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to continue the Center’s stay in Norman, Oklahoma. The Center’s researchers help decision makers across Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and New Mexico to apply cutting-edge science, data, and tools to prepare for climate extremes, like droughts, floods, and heat waves.

“We have seen devastating wildfires, extraordinary drought conditions, extensive flooding, and other climate-related disasters just in the past five years across our region,” says Renee McPherson, University Director of the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center and OU associate professor of geography and environmental sustainability. “We know that the costs and damages of these disasters are rising. Now is the time to build resilience in our communities, water resources, coastal environments, forests, and other landscapes. The Climate Adaptation Science Center gathers many of the top scientists in the south-central United States and targets their work on science that helps us combat these climate extremes.”

Since the Center’s establishment in 2012, the Center’s scientists have partnered with decisionmakers on a variety of research topics. For example, researchers mapped wildfire likelihood to assist fire mangers in preparing for wildfire events. Others investigated the impacts of a changing climate on snowpack, streamflow, native wildlife, or invasive plants to develop planning scenarios for managers. Additionally, the Center has studied ways to effectively monitor soil moisture and drought conditions to help decision makers be proactive in extreme hot and dry conditions. By identifying how climate extremes are likely to affect the south-central U.S. in the coming decades, the science team can help resource managers build resilience in their national or state parks, wildlife refuges, tribes, communities, or other jurisdictions.

The South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center has worked extensively with tribes and pueblos. Center scientists have conducted research with tribes on their lands and waters, provided scientific expertise for development of tribal adaptation strategies, and hosted over 50 scientific trainings for tribal staff, elders, educators, and students. The tribal trainings have served over 550 tribal attendees for more than 5,000 contact hours. In 2015, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior honored the Center with an Environmental Achievement Award for increasing tribal capacity for climate change adaptation.

Through funding from the USGS, OU, and the Oklahoma NASA Space Grant Consortium, Center scientists also produced a series of 60 short videos that explain climate change, its impacts on ecosystems and various sectors of society, and techniques to help adapt to climate extremes. The video series is entitled Managing for a Changing Climate and is featured on the Center’s YouTube channel (

Another important emphasis of the Center has been educating and mentoring a diverse group of next-generation scientists and resource managers. The Center’s research programs provide opportunities for students and early-career scientists to work directly with decision makers across the region. Mentorship programs have included a summer undergraduate internship program for traditionally underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. During this program, students from across the south-central U.S. spend three weeks visiting major research universities and learning about the wide range of climate impacts on the region. Additionally, we have hosted three one-week workshops focused on early-career professionals to mentor them in how to conduct scientific research in partnership with resource managers. Finally, through the generosity of an anonymous donor, the Center sponsored a need-based international studies scholarship to aid OU students interested in environmental programs in pursuing a summer study abroad program.

It is our vision that we lead our region in understanding climate impacts and climate adaptation related to natural and cultural resource management. In the next five years, we plan to continue our innovative research and mentoring efforts with some new programs and partnerships. To stay up to date with our recent activity, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter (

The South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center is one of eight regional centers funded by the USGS. Their collective mission is to “deliver science to help fish, wildlife, water, land and people adapt to a changing climate.” Members of the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center are the University of Oklahoma (lead institution), Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Texas Tech University, Louisiana State University, University of New Mexico, and Oklahoma State University. For further information about the Center, visit

NWC Research Exploration

Dr. Berrien Moore III, dean of the College of Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences and director of the National Weather Center, discusses how the NWC impacts research and student engagement at The University of Oklahoma.


College of A&GS Events