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Li Receives 2014 Yoram J. Kaufman Unselfish Cooperation in Research Award

Zhanqing Li received the 2014 Yoram J. Kaufman Unselfish Cooperation in Research Award at the 2014 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, held 15–19 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes "broad influence in atmospheric science through exceptional creativity, inspiration of younger scientists, mentoring, international collaborations, and unselfish cooperation in research."



Zhanqing Li
Zhanqing Li

Professor Zhanqing Li of the University of Maryland’s Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Department and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center is the 2014 recipient of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Atmospheric Sciences section’s Yoram J. Kaufman Unselfish Cooperation in Research Award. The award was established in 2009 to honor the memory of NASA Goddard’s distinguished scientist, Yoram J. Kaufman, “for broad influence in atmospheric science through exceptional creativity, inspiration of younger scientists, mentoring, international collaborations, and unselfish cooperation in research.”

Professor Li, a specialist in remote sensing of radiation budget, aerosol, cloud, land, and their applications for studying Earth’s climate, worked in China and Canada prior to joining the University of Maryland in 2001. As a scientist at the Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing, Professor Li led a team of scientists to convince the Canadian Space Agency to join the United States on the NASA satellite mission CloudSat to study impacts of clouds on weather and climate. He developed a satellite-based wildfire monitoring system for Canadian forest agencies that is the basis for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fire products today. At Maryland, over the past decade, Professor Li forged educational ties with China and spearheaded a very successful international field campaign called East Asian Study of Tropospheric Aerosols, a Regional International Experiment (EAST-AIRE), including deployment of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Mobile Facility to China. This was a singularly remarkable achievement; in the words of one letter writer, “Only a scientist with extraordinary diplomatic skills and scientific leadership could get these done over Mainland China.” These efforts led to many publications in three special issues in the Journal of Geophysical Research, with lasting contributions to pollution and climate science over East Asia. Possibly the most lasting impact of Professor Li’s scientific research through wide-ranging and unselfish collaboration will be his Nature Geoscience paper (2011) on observations that “verified theories that predicted pollution would inhibit gentle, warm rains that nurture crops while exacerbating severe storms.”

For these reasons, the AGU Atmospheric Sciences section is proud to present the 2014 Yoram Kaufman Award to Professor Zhanqing Li.

—Anne Thompson, Earth Science Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.


I am humbled to receive the Yoram J. Kaufman Award, not so much because the award recognizes my personal achievement, which has already been honored by my election as an AGU Fellow this year, but more because it rewards the collective efforts made by a large number of collaborators with whom I have the privilege of working with in the United States, Canada, and China. Living in these great countries is the most valuable treasure of my life. The Chinese cultural tradition of making education a top priority motivated me to build a solid foundation that has been beneficial to my whole career. In Canada, teamwork led to the award-winning project on fire monitoring, mapping, and modeling. In the United States, the unparalleled freedom and ample resources in choosing and pursuing any research topic helped realize my American dreams. In the era of globalization, especially when we are facing such global challenges as climate and environmental changes, international cooperation is the key for the well-being of all mankind. In this regard, I feel particularly fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time to promote two major international cooperative initiatives with ample support by all three countries, namely, CloudSat between the United States and Canada and EAST-AIRE and AMF between China and the United States. These initiatives allowed my team to better understand the impact and interactions between atmospheric environment and climate change on global scales. This would not be possible without unselfish collaborations with scientists and engineers from many institutions, including the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, DOE laboratories, Beijing Normal University, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, and the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, among others. I am most indebted to the tens of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows working with me in the past and present.

Winning this award reminds me of how much I miss my dear friend and a genius colleague, the late Yoram J. Kaufman, who helped change the trajectory of my research career. I vividly recall his visit to Canada at a time when my research interests had only a glancing connection with aerosols from the perspective of wild fires and Earth’s radiation budget. His enlightening talk about aerosol-cloud interactions inspired me to shift my research more toward the new frontier of broad aerosol-climate interactions. His spirit of unselfish collaboration during our interactions was infectious and instilled in me the desire to work with others in a similar way.

—Zhanqing Li, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science and the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park; and Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

Citation: AGU (2015), Li receives 2014 Yoram J. Kaufman Unselfish Cooperation in Research Award, Eos, 96, doi:10.1029/2015EO026939. Published on 27 March 2015.

© 2015. The authors. CC BY-NC 3.0