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Innovation Park Building Named in Honor of Pioneering Scientist and Penn State Grad

on May 17, 2019 4:25 PM

At a ceremony on Friday, Penn State named 328 Innovation Boulevard in Innovation Park in honor of Warren M. Washington, a pioneer and world leader in climate modeling.

Washington earned his Ph.D. in meteorology from Penn State 1964. As the second African-American in the nation to earn a Ph.D. in meteorology, his mentorship to future generations of scientists has profoundly impacted the field.

In the early 1960s, Washington recognized the potential of computers to revolutionize the understanding of Earth’s climate and helped develop the first-ever computer models to study the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations on global temperatures. His groundbreaking work advanced the field of numerical climate modeling, allowing scientists to predict future atmospheric conditions and better understand climate change.

328 Innovation Boulevard is home to the National Weather Service, which uses weather and climate models pioneered by Washington while at Penn State and during his decades of service at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR.)

“When I first came to Penn State, one of the research goals was to improve the daily weather forecasting,” Washington said. “But that soon morphed into bigger things. I’ve always been interested in how meteorology could provide a public benefit but also spark innovation and investment from private companies. This relationship has led to greater investment in science and continues to improve weather and climate forecasting.”

Penn State President Eric Barron said the Warren Washington Building marks the first of several planned namings for Innovation Park buildings currently identified only by their street number.

“We asked the deans to nominate pioneers and innovators so the buildings at Innovation Park have names and not numbers,” Barron said. “I’m very pleased that Warren Washington was the first nominee and will be honored with the first named building. He is an inspiration, an internationally recognized expert in atmospheric sciences and climate research, and a mentor who has long helped individuals live the life within them.”

Washington mentored graduate students — including Barron — as well as undergraduates in the UCAR-based Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science, or SOARS, program.

He was part of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and was awarded the 2010 National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama. This year, he received the Tyler Prize with Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences at Penn State.

Other speakers at the naming event included Erwin Greenberg — chairman and founding partner of GLP, the exclusive developer of Innovation Park under agreement with the Penn State Research Park Management Corporation — and Lee Kump, John Leone Dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

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