Stephen 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

My research interests include studying clouds and precipitation systems, and the many physical processes within them, across the globe. Our research group investigates many topics in this area, including:

  • improving measurements of clouds and precipitation, 
  • studying of the roles of clouds and precipitation processes in weather systems, including severe and extreme weather, and
  • understanding the connections between clouds, precipitation, and climate. 

Clouds play a number of important roles in the earth system, including the global radiation balance, but also play a key role in the earth's water cycle. Cloud and precipitation processes vary geographically and depend on many factors, and large gaps in our knowledge of the global distribution of clouds and precipitation, and the factors that cause them to vary, hamper our ability to model and predict weather and climate. Our group aims to close those gaps by using in situ sensors (on the ground and on aircraft), remote sensing tools such as multi-frequency and dual-polarization radar and passive microwave sensors, and numerical models to improve our understanding of precipitation processes globally.

Our group's research projects have ranged from studying precipitation systems from the tropics through mid- and high-latitudes, including studies of tropical cloud systems and mesoscale convective systems, tropical cyclones, tropical and mid-latitude orographic precipitation, mid-latitude convective systems, and high-latitude cyclones. Our research group has participated in the planning, execution, and analysis of field campaigns in 18 projects spanning five continents, and I emphasize field research in the context of graduate studies in my group. We participate in the NASA Precipitation Measurement Missions (PMM) and Ocean Vector Winds (OVW) science teams as well as the Department of Energy Atmospheric Systems Research (ASR) science team.

I enjoy teaching meteorology, remote sensing, and measurements courses, with an emphasis on melding theory and observations, hands-on learning, and application of data science and computational methods to atmospheric sciences. I am actively engaged in service to professional societies, including being a former editor of the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology (2009-2014) and serving as a member (2010-2013) and ultimately the chair of the the American Meteorological Society's Science and Technical Advisory Committee on Radar Meteorology (2013-2016). I co-chaired the 2011 35th American Meteorological Society Conference on Radar Meteorology and have served on the program committee for the 2013 and 2015 AMS Conference on Radar Meteorology and the 2014 and 2016 European Conference on Radar Meteorology and Hydrology. In 2015, I was a Visiting Professor, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Centro de Investigaciones del Mar y la Atmósfera, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina and a Visiting Scientist at the Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, Argentina.  I am currently a Investigador Extranjero of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina. I serve on the Illinois Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and the Environment (iSEE) Water Council, and the Earth Sciences Council of the Universities Space Research Association.

Research Areas

Courses Taught