2013 Mines Medal Fellowship awarded to climate-modeling researcher
Release Date Thursday, September 12, 2013
RAPID CITY, S.D. (Sept. 10, 2013) - Parker A. Norton, a South Dakota School of Mines & Technology doctoral candidate whose research has already proven a critical resource to experts in forecasting weather and climate changes, has been named the 2013 Mines Medal Graduate Fellow.
A key member of the climate-modeling team at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), where he began working in 2007 when he was a master's student at the School of Mines, Norton's research has yielded long-term simulations of North America's climate. Among the projects to which he has contributed: developing a water budget for Sheridan Lake, analysis of stream flow trends in the Missouri River watershed, groundwater modeling and regional climate model studies in the continental United States and the Black Hills.
Norton will be formally recognized at the Fifth Annual Mines Medal Dinner & Award ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 3, at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, LaCroix Hall.
Anna Balazs, Ph.D., a pioneer in the area of predicting the behavior of complex polymeric materials through her theoretical predictions, will receive the 2013 Mines Medal medallion, a national award presented by the School of Mines to honor engineers and scientists who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and innovation. Balazs is Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.
The Mines Medal event also raises scholarship dollars for student research.
"The Mines Medal honors an exceptional leader in science and helps us raise funds to prepare the next generation of leaders in engineering and science," said Heather Wilson, D.Phil., Mines president.
Norton earned his bachelor's degree in computer science in 1992 from Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif., and his master's degree in computer science in 2008 from the School of Mines.
His mastery in computer skills coupled with his interest and studies in the physical sciences have helped Norton become a critical resource for the climate modeling community, according to William Capehart, Ph.D., associate professor of atmospheric science at the School of Mines. Capehart and John Stamm, Ph.D., USGS hydrologist and Mines adjunct professor, nominated Norton for the fellowship.
According to Capehart, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is adding one of Norton's "desperately needed tools" to its collection of support software for its global and regional models.
Norton is tackling problems of national importance and "has the potential to place SDSM&T in the national spotlight for his research," Stamm said, adding that no one else at the USGS is doing the kind of work that Norton is "because it is so difficult. One simulation requires months of computer time on a supercomputer."
Norton anticipates earning his doctorate in the spring and plans to continue his work with the USGS, particularly in climate and hydrologic modeling.
Climate modeling is important, Norton said, because it helps to improve "understanding of the earth's system and how the many pieces of our planet interact and influence each other and how humans exert an influence on it. Climate modeling allows us to not only verify observed phenomena but also model what-if scenarios based on our understanding of behaviors of the physical world that otherwise would not be possible."
The Mines Medal reception begins at 6 p.m., with dinner served at 7 p.m. and the award ceremony following at 8 p.m. To purchase tickets for the dinner award ceremony or to make a donation for student scholarships, please visit http://www.sdsmt.edu/About/Mines-Medal/
Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls more than 2,400 students from 32 countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The average starting salary for 2012 graduates was $62,696 with a 98 percent placement rate. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sdsmt and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/sdsmt.