Peter Webster Elected Honorary Fellow of U.K. Meteorological Society

The atmospheric scientist joins British royalty, science community giants, and other luminaries by accepting the honor

Peter Webster, professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has been elected Honorary Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) by the society’s council. Webster has been invited to attend the RMetS annual meeting in London on May 17 to receive the honor.

The honorary fellowship comes on the heels of other honors bestowed on Webster for his contributions to the field of atmospheric chemistry, especially his lifesaving work on predicting devastating monsoon floods in Bangladesh. Recent notable examples include the Georgia Tech Sigma Xi Award and the Creativity Prize of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water, which was presented last year to Webster at the United Nations building in New York City by members of the Saudi Arabian royal family and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. As an Honorary Fellow, Webster finds himself in the company of Prince Charles, the society’s patron, and legendary naturalist and television presenter Sir David Attenborough, among many other distinguished individuals.

“I have been lucky enough to receive quite a number of awards, but in many ways, I prize this Fellowship somewhat more,” Webster says. “It came from nominations from long-standing colleagues and was conferred by colleagues. That means a great deal to me.”

Established in 1850, RMetS serves professionals, academics, and those with general interest in meteorology. As a scientific organization, RMetS publishes several international science journals and advises the British government on matters relating to meteorology and climate change. As a registered charity, RMetS supports educational programs and engages in the professional development of its members at all levels of their careers.

A native of the U.K., Webster has special affinity for English institutions. While he was still a child, his family emigrated to Australia, where he would eventually earn a bachelor’s degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. From there, he went on to earn a Ph. D. from MIT. He visited the U.K. frequently to collaborate with scientists there for many years. In 2015, he was invited to deliver the 116th Sir Edmund Halley Lecture – his talk was entitled “Understanding the Monsoon” – at the University of Oxford.

When asked what might have prompted the Honorary Fellowship, Webster says, “Much of my applied work was done in conjunction with U.K. and European institutions. I think, too, that the British have a long history and interest in the developing world,” a reference to his monsoon work in South Asia.

With a string of awards and published papers under his belt, and an upcoming retirement from Georgia Tech, Webster says of this latest honor, “It’s a rather nice closure to my career at Tech."

Matt Barr
Science Communications Intern
College of Sciences

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