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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Departmental History


The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at UW–Madison has a rich history dating back to early days of the University itself. Gisela Kutzbach has done extensive research and wrote a 1979 BAMS article highlighting some of the milestones of 125 years of Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin. Some specific highlights taken from the introduction of that article:

  • The first professor on campus, J. W. Sterling, began taking meteorological observations in 1853. A small but continuing program of meteorology was present on the campus for almost 100 years (1853-1947)

  • The modern Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (then called Meteorology) was founded in 1948 by Reid Bryson and Verner Suomi.

Department Chairs

1948-1950: Reid A. Bryson

1950-1952: Verner E. Suomi

1952-1954: Reid A. Bryson

1954-1957: Verner E. Suomi

1957-1961: Reid A. Bryson

1961-1963: Heinz H. Lettau

1963-1967: Robert A. Ragotzkie

1967-1970: Lyle H. Horn

1970-1973: Eberhard W. Wahl

1973-1976: Donald R. Johnson

1976-1979: David D. Houghton

1979-1982: John E. Kutzbach

1982-1984: Eberhard W. Wahl

1984-1987: John A. Young

1987-1989: Lyle H. Horn

1989-1991: John E. Kutzbach

1991-1994: David D. Houghton

1994-1997: Pao K. Wang

1997-2000: Matthew H. Hitchman

2000-2005: John A. Young

2005-2013: Jon E. Martin

2013-2016: Grant Petty

2016-2021: Greg Tripoli

2021-present: Ankur Desai