Tiffany Shaw receives Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award

Prof. Tiffany Shaw, internationally renowned atmospheric physicist at the University of Chicago, has been selected by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award in recognition of her outstanding research accomplishments.

The physics of the atmospheric circulation from the equator to the pole and from the surface to the stratosphere are Prof. Shaw's primary research interests. Through her work, she seeks to advance the understanding of the circulation through a combination of theory, hierarchical numerical modeling, and analysis of observational data. This is because the Earth's atmospheric circulation and its energy transport are critical to the habitability of the Earth — past, present, and future.

Prof. Bjorn Stevens, managing director and head of the department Climate Physics at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, says: “With her work, Prof. Shaw has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of how atmospheric circulation responds to climate change. Her research explains the expected poleward shift of extra-tropical storms with warming, how this shift is affected (influenced) by the retreat of sea ice, and more generally, how the spatial structure of warming can be constrained by knowledge of the present-day climate.”

Recipients of the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award are invited to carry out research projects of their own choice at a scientific institution in Germany together with their colleagues there. Starting in September 2023, Prof. Bjorn Stevens will be Prof. Shaw’s host at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg for one year.

During her stay in Germany, Prof. Shaw will extend her work on the response of extra-tropical storm-tracks to include factors influencing their inter-hemispheric asymmetry. This asymmetry regulates the Earth's energy balance, introducing a pathway by which the storm response to warming can influence the warming itself.

The Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award, endowed with 45,000 euros, recognizes the excellent research achievements of up to 20 scientists from abroad each year. The prizewinners are researchers who are expected to continue their top achievements in the future, with an impact beyond their immediate field of expertise.

The prize bears the name of the German astronomer and mathematician Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel (1784-1846) and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Further Informationen

Tiffany Shaw's website at the Universität Chicago
Department of Climate Physics at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
about the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award


Prof. Dr. Bjorn Stevens
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology
Phone: +49 40 41173-422