From CU-Boulder News Release April 5, 2007

CU-Boulder Professor Margaret Tolbert Awarded 2007 CU Boulder Hazel Barnes Prize

Maggie TolbertUniversity of Colorado at Boulder chemistry and biochemistry department Professor Margaret Tolbert has been awarded the 2007 Hazel Barnes Prize, the highest faculty recognition for teaching and research given by the university.

Tolbert was honored for her contributions to understanding the chemistry and climate of planetary atmospheres, including past and present Earth. She also was cited for her teaching and research efforts with undergraduates and graduate students, 15 of whom have won prestigious NASA and Environmental Protection Agency fellowships in recent years.

Tolbert will receive an engraved university medal and a $20,000 cash award, the largest single faculty award funded by CU-Boulder. She will be recognized at spring commencement May 11, and a reception in her honor will be held on campus during the fall 2007 semester.

Tolbert is best known for her research on polar stratospheric clouds, or PSCs, which form 12 miles to 20 miles above Earth's poles each winter and provide surfaces where chemical reactions linked to stratospheric ozone destruction occur. In 2004 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences for her work on PSCs and sulfuric acid aerosols and their implications for the Antarctic ozone hole.

"Professor Margaret Tolbert is a symbol of the quality of the faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder," said CU-Boulder Chancellor G.P. "Bud" Peterson. "Her pursuit of achievement in research and her passion for teaching both graduates and undergraduates demonstrate the highest levels of excellence."

In 1987, early in her career, Tolbert received the Newcomb Cleveland Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her pioneering work linking chemical reactions on the surfaces of PSCs to the formation and activity of ozone-gobbling chlorine molecules in the atmosphere. Tolbert received the prize for authoring the best paper of the year in the prestigious journal Science.

Other honors and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005, NASA Group Achievement Awards in both 2003 and 2001 and the Boulder Faculty Assembly Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarly and Creative Work in 2001.

Tolbert also won a national Camille Dreyfuss Teacher-Scholar Award in 1994 and the James B. Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union in 1993. She received a prestigious National Science Foundation Young Investigator award in 1992.

Working in her lab at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Tolbert and her research group -- which includes undergraduate and graduate students -- also have been analyzing wispy, high-altitude cirrus clouds that are rich in ice crystals. The group is studying whether anthropogenic particles in the atmosphere can bind to ice particles that then act as seeds to "grow" cirrus cloud banks, possibly triggering changes in Earth's heat budget.

CIRES is a joint research venture between CU-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Tolbert also collaborates with CU-Boulder Professor Brian Toon, director of the oceanic and atmospheric sciences department, and CIRES fellow David Fahey on aircraft-based study of stratospheric aerosols. Tolbert's students have participated in a number of field research projects in the past decade focusing on stratospheric chemistry, polar stratospheric clouds and cirrus clouds.

"I'm surprised, thrilled and I feel deeply honored to receive the Hazel Barnes Prize," said Tolbert. "A highlight of my career has been the opportunity to work with many fabulous graduate students at CU-Boulder, and this award would not have been possible without them."

Tolbert's research group has been studying the properties of clouds and aerosols in planetary systems, including Mars and Titan, a moon of Saturn. A November 2006 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Tolbert and her colleagues, including former doctoral student Melissa Trainer, concluded hazy skies on early Earth could have provided a substantial amount of organic material useful for emerging life on the planet.

From 1992 to 2006 Tolbert taught large, freshman environmental chemistry courses at CU-Boulder for non-science majors. Her evaluations from students were the highest for any faculty member ever teaching the course.

Tolbert received her bachelor's degree from Grinnell College, her master's from the University of California, Berkeley and her doctorate from the California Institute of Technology. She came to CU-Boulder in 1991.

Named in honor of CU-Boulder philosophy Professor Emerita Hazel Barnes, The Hazel Barnes Prize was established in 1991 to recognize the enriching relationships between teaching and research. Barnes, who taught at CU-Boulder from 1943 to 1986, is noted for her interpretations of the works of French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre.