Steve Nesbitt


  • Ph.D. Meteorology, University of Utah, 2003
  • M.S. Meteorology, Texas A&M University, 1999
  • B.S. Meteorology, summa cum laude, State University of New York at Oswego, 1997

Stephen W. Nesbitt is an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, School of Earth, Society and Environment.  He has affiliate appointments in the Computational Science and Engineering program and the Center for Latin American Studies. 

His primary research interests focus on (1) improving measurements of clouds and precipitation, (2) using satellite, ground-based, and aircraft-based observations and models to study the physical and dynamic processes in clouds and precipitation in weather systems, including in severe weather, (3) understanding the connections between clouds, precipitation, and climate, and (4) improving global societal resilience to extreme weather and hydrometeorological hazards.  He advocates for the use of modern data science tools in the study of weather and climate phenomena.

Nesbitt earned his PhD in meteorology in 2003 at the University of Utah as a NASA Earth System Science Graduate Fellow. Since joining the faculty in Urbana in 2006, he was awarded the NASA New Investigator Program award in 2008 (NASA equivalent of the NSF CAREER award), several NASA awards including the Group Achievement Award (2010, 2015), the NASA Robert H. Goddard Award for Excellent Achievement in Science in 2015, and the American Meteorological Society award for Outstanding Service as Member and Chair for the Radar Meteorology committee.  He has participated in 19 atmospheric field campaigns, including as the NSF principal investigator and the DOE Co-Principal Investigator for the $30 million RELAMPAGO-CACTI 2018-2019 field campaign in Argentina to study the world’s most intense thunderstorms. 

Nesbitt is co-author of over 50 peer-reviewed publications and Co-Author of the textbook Radar Meteorology, a First Course (Wiley, 488 pp.).  His teaching has been recognized on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent at the University of Illinois.  He also served as an editor of the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology.

Research Areas

Courses Taught

  • ATMS 305: Geophysical Data Analysis
  • ATMS 597: Advanced Mesoscale Modeling with WRF
  • ATMS 406: Tropical Meteorology
  • ATMS 411: Satellite remote sensing
  • ATMS 391: Field studies of convection