The University of Arizona Logo
Two men sit on a stage with a NASA plane in the background
Armin Sorooshian, left, is interviewed by NASA Earth Science News Editor Samson Reiny. Sorooshian has been the primary investigator on several grants funded by NASA and the Office of Naval Research.

Sorooshian Wins American Geophysical Union Medal

Time to read
2 minutes
Read so far

Sorooshian Wins American Geophysical Union Medal

Sept. 26, 2023
The CHEE professor’s recognition honors both a family and a professional legacy.

Armin Sorooshian, professor of chemical and environmental engineering and University Distinguished Scholar, has been awarded the American Geophysical Union's Joanne Simpson Medal for his research on airborne aerosol particles and their effects on climate.

The medal honors exceptional mid-career scientists who have made transformative scientific advances, demonstrated strong leadership, and provided outstanding service to science and society.

“As AGU’s mission is to partly advance discovery in Earth sciences and its benefit for humanity and the environment, I feel my research aligns perfectly, as the impacts of airborne particulates and clouds extend from health to climate,” Sorooshian said. “Particles lead to the most deaths globally of any environmental cause, and the interactions between particles and clouds are a leading uncertainty in understanding of climate change and rainfall patterns.”

Sorooshian has been honored for his achievements many times, including by AGU, who selected him for the Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award four years ago. He was also recognized with the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program Award in 2010. Within the College of Engineering, Sorooshian was the da Vinci fellow in 2018 and the Doctoral Dissertation Advisor Award winner in 2022.

He has led several high-profile research projects, including a $30 million NASA-funded study investigating clouds over the western North Atlantic Ocean that have a critical role in our planet's energy balance. This year, a team led by Sorooshian won NASA’s Group Achievement Award.

The broader impact of Sorooshian’s work involves training the next generation of scientists to combat the challenges associated with aerosols and atmospheric studies. Sorooshian – who holds co-appointments in hydrology and atmospheric sciences, public health, and optical sciences – says working with the next wave of engineers has been at the foundation of his faculty career, and everything begins with his students in mind.

Two men use an instrument in a lab
Armin Sorooshian, right, trains doctoral student Miguel Hilario to use an instrument they will employ this summer on a NASA mission.

An Honor Twice Over

Sorooshian’s award is named after the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in meteorology. Joanne Simpson is known in the remote sensing and atmospheric sciences community as a mentor, coach and supporter of the leadership and research work in many field experiments.

“This is a meaningful overlap with my career, as I have been involved with over 15 airborne field experiments, with many as the leader,” Sorooshian said. “I am certainly very humbled to receive an award bearing Dr. Joanne Simpson’s name.”

Upon winning the medal, Sorooshian was immediately elected an AGU Fellow, an honor bestowed upon only 0.1% of the 60,000 AGU members. Fellows are identified authorities who could advise government agencies and other organizations outside the Earth and space sciences. Sorooshian's father, Soroosh Sorooshian, is also an AGU Fellow, making the occasion even more special. The senior Sorooshian was a faculty member in the College of Engineering from 1983 to 2003, when he moved to the University of California at Irvine.

While there is much more to understand in the realm of atmospheric studies, Sorooshian says the unknown creates exciting aspirations and goals for his research group and collaborators on the University of Arizona campus. He adds that in addition to teaching and research, his most important new role is raising his two young children, Parsa and Liana.

“Having been a student here in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, I do not ever take for granted the education and opportunities my bachelor’s degree here set me up for that got me to this point as a faculty member of the same department,” said Sorooshian. “I feel very lucky having been a student here and to bring back some recognition to our department and college in the area of atmospheric sciences.”

Since 1919, the nonprofit AGU has provided a community and support to hundreds of thousands of researchers and enthusiasts in the fields of atmospheric, oceanic, space and Earth science.