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USF Geosciences Professor Jennifer Collins Elected Fellow of the American Meteorological Society

Jennifer Collins

Photo by Julie Branaman/83 Degrees Media.

An internationally renowned hurricane expert, Dr. Collins’ research and teaching accomplishments are lauded by the prestigious international organization.

TAMPA, Fla. – USF School of Geosciences Professor Jennifer Collins has been elected as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society in recognition of her contributions to understanding weather, climate and hurricanes and their societal impacts, while leading creative undergraduate research programs and bringing cutting-edge weather science to the community. 

The century-old AMS is a global community committed to advancing weather, water, and climate science and service and one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to meteorology. AMS Fellows are recognized for their “outstanding contributions to the atmospheric or related oceanic or hydrologic sciences or their applications during a substantial period of years." 

As a hurricane researcher, Collins’ research has advanced the understanding of weather patterns such as the El Niño and seasonal patterns of tropical cyclone activity in multiple oceanic basins.  She has worked closely on projects with the National Weather Service involving tornados and fog, and made noteworthy scientific contributions to understanding climate change. More recently, her lab joined with weather researchers in the Netherlands to develop a new scale for measuring tropical cyclone severity that they presented as a better indication of hurricane danger beyond solely measuring wind speed. 

Along with her work in the physical sciences, she also has led research initiatives into the social challenges of extreme weather – particularly as the intersect with other crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently working on a National Science Foundation-funded project to examine whether concerns about the pandemic are affecting the evacuation decisions of people in the paths of hurricanes. 

From 2018 to 2020, she has led a successful NSF undergraduate research experience program that explored the intersection of weather, climate and society, and particularly encouraged community college, first-generation and historically underrepresented STEM students to participate in the interdisciplinary research program. This summer, she co-led a second undergraduate research experience on water sustainability. In 2018, she was recognized with AMS’ Edward N. Lorenz Teaching Excellence Award, which recognized her "creative, engaging, and challenging classroom lectures, and a passion for mentoring and encouraging students in undergraduate research." 

Collins is the former president of the West Central Florida Chapter of the American Meteorological Society and continues to serve as an officer, former director of the Climate Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers and served on the National Weather Association’s Specialized Operations Committee on Tropical Cyclones. She is the co-author of the 2019 book Florida Weather and Climate: More Than Just Sunshine, and the co-editor of the books, Hurricanes and Climate Change (2017) and Hurricane Risk (2019). In 2020, she was selected for the Drexel University Executive Leadership in Academic Technology, Engineering and Science program, a prestigious professional development program for women in academic STEM fields. 

Dr. Charles Paxton, who served as the Science and Operations Officer for the National Weather Service Tampa Bay from 1993 to 2017 and earned his PhD in 2014 studying with Collins, said to be named an AFS Fellow recognizes her commitment and achievements not only in research and teaching, but in her collaboration with the wider meteorological community. 

“As president of the West Central Florida AMS chapter, she conducted meetings with interesting speakers and provided a meeting space for the area’s meteorologists and weather enthusiasts earning Chapter of the Year or Honor Roll notoriety several times as one of the most active chapters nationwide,” he said. “Dr Collins’ scope of research, teaching, and outreach during her career has earned her the distinction of AMS Fellow.” 

Collins has been a USF faculty member since 2005. She earned her PhD in physics from University College London in 2001. She will be formally presented with the recognition at the 102nd AMS Annual Meeting scheduled for January 2022 in Houston. 

Read more about Dr. Jennifer Collins' journey as a hurricane researcher in this profile from 83 Degrees Media.

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