UNSW Canberra Professor Liz Ritchie has been recognised as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), a leading organisation for the advancement of atmospheric and related sciences.

Professor Ritchie, the Associate Dean for Education at UNSW Canberra, was recognised for her outstanding research into tropical cyclones, a subject she describes as ‘fascinating examples of nature’.

“I love being able to pull them apart and examine why they do what they do, why they change size and intensity, what it is that is driving their activity, structure changes and rainfall patterns,” Professor Ritchie said. 

“My PhD supervisor was a tropical cyclone forecaster in Darwin when TC Tracy hit on Christmas Eve 1974 and devastated the city.  

“He talked a lot about that night of terror and instilled in me a fundamental desire to do something that had impact, to do science, not just for science sake, but so that what I discovered could be translated into improvements in analysis and forecast techniques in ways that would have impact on people’s lives.” 

Professor Ritchie has been an active member of AMS since she was a graduate student, receiving the Max Eaton student prize in 1993.

She has served as a Councillor for the Society; Chair of the Scientific and Technological Activities Committee, overseeing all activities related to tropical meteorology, and Editor of two flagship journals, the Monthly Weather Review and Weather and Forecasting.

She described her advancement to Fellow as ‘a great honour’.

‘There are many great men and women who are Fellows of the AMS, including some of my early mentors,” Professor Ritchie said.

“To be counted in their number is humbling.”

Professor Ritchie has published more than 60 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters and more than 150 conference papers.

In addition to her work with AMS, Professor Ritchie is a member of the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) Working Group on Tropical Meteorology Research and the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society's expert group on weather and weather prediction.

She has served on the US Joint Hurricane Testbed Steering Committee, numerous NASA panels, including Chair of the Senior Review, as well as a number of leadership roles for the WMO International Workshop on Tropical Cyclones.