Skip to Main Content

Apply Now to the University of Wyoming apply now

University Catalog

Department of Atmospheric Science

Bart Geerts, Department Head
6034 Engineering Building
Phone: (307) 766-3245, FAX: (307) 766-2635


BART GEERTS, Licenciaat Physical Geography Katholieke University, Belgium 1984; Engineer in Irrigation Sciences, Katholieke University, Belgium 1985; Ph.D. University of Washington 1990; Professor of Atmospheric Science 2011, 1999.
JEFFERSON R. SNIDER, B.S. University of Oregon 1979; M.S. University of Arizona 1982; Ph.D. University of Wyoming 1990; Professor of Atmospheric Science 2004, 1990.

Associate Professor

SHANE MURPHY, B.S. University of Colorado 2000; Ph.D. California Institute of Technology 2009; Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science 2019, 2011.

Assistant Professors

DANA CAULTON, B.S. Indiana University 2010; Ph.D. Purdue University 2014; Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science 2018.
B.S. South Dakota School of Mines 1992; M.S. 1994; Ph.D. University of Wyoming 1998; Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science 2015.
B.S. Pennsylvania State University 2007; M.S. 2009; Ph.D. California Institute of Technology 2012; Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science 2015.

Adjunct Professor

Zhien Wang

Professor Emeritus

Terry L. Deshler, Robert D. Kelly, John D. Marwitz, Derek C. Montague, Thomas R. Parish, Alfred R. Rodi, Gabor Vali

Atmospheric Science

Atmospheric Science is a rapidly developing discipline in which meteorology, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, mathematics and computer science are all being applied in an effort to better understand the earth's atmosphere. The entire development of atmospheric science demonstrates how progress can result from the application of knowledge developed in the basic sciences to a complex environmental system. Concurrently, atmospheric scientists develop many observational and analytical techniques unique to the study of the atmosphere. Over the past decades, atmospheric science developed vigorously, stimulated by the availability of the latest satellite, ground-based and aircraft observations, as well as the availability of large computers for numerical simulations of atmospheric processes. At the same time, the importance of the atmosphere as a crucial resource in the welfare and survival of humankind is being recognized, as knowledge about how the atmosphere behaves is obtained.

The Department of Atmospheric Science offers graduate programs leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

In these graduate programs, great emphasis is placed on the active research involvement of students both during the academic year and during the summer months. The low student to faculty ratio in the department ensures an atmosphere of vital cooperation among students, faculty and staff. Student theses form integral parts of the department's research productivity and almost always lead to publishable results.

Research interests in the department center around cloud and precipitation physics, cloud and mesoscale atmospheric dynamics, boundary layer processes, tropospheric and stratospheric aerosols and chemistry, ozone depletion, wind energy, global change, instrumentation and air quality. These interests are also reflected in the department's academic program, which has the breadth and depth necessary to give students a background for entering into many different types of employment upon graduation.

A number of unique research tools are available in the department. Prominent among these is the King Air research aircraft which carries extensive instrumentation and computer-directed data acquisition systems. The tropospheric and stratospheric balloon launch facility is used to sample aerosols, volcanic plumes, clouds and ozone in Laramie, and in both the north and south polar regions. Excellent laboratory facilities are available in the department’s spacious quarters. These laboratories focus on aerosol and ice nucleation research, on atmospheric optics, remote sensing, and atmospheric chemistry. Well-equipped electronic and mechanical construction and design facilities are conducive for work in instrumentation development. A wide range of computer facilities are available, providing excellent support both in hardware and software for research activities and for learning. The Department of Atmospheric Science is the lead user of the Wyoming allocation of the NCAR Wyoming Supercomputer Center.

A prerequisite for admission to the graduate program is a bachelor's degree in meteorology, engineering, physics, chemistry, mathematics or a similar relevant discipline. For general regulations concerning admission and degree requirements, the Graduate Bulletin of the University of Wyoming should be consulted. Graduate assistantships are available by application to the department and are awarded on the basis of past record and promise for achievement.

For material containing further details on curriculum and research programs, write to the graduate admissions coordinator or visit the website at

Graduate Study

The Department of Atmospheric Science offers degree programs leading to the master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees.

The department has strong research programs in the following areas: cloud physics and dynamics; tropospheric aerosols and clouds; greehouse gases; air pollution and wildfires; boundary layer processes; remote sensing; and airborne instrumentation. The department’s observational facilities are: 1) the King Air research aircraft (UWKA); 2) the Wyoming Balloon Launch Facility; 3) the Air Quality Mobile Lab and the Wyoming Air Quality Monitoring Lab; 4) the Wyoming Cloud Radar (WCR) and Wyoming Cloud Lidar (WCL) for the study of cloud structure and composition; and 5) the Keck Aerosol Laboratory. The UWKA, WCR, and WCL are designated Lower Atmospheric Observing Facilities by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Please refer to the departmental homepage at for programmatic updates, or contact the department directly.

Program Specific Admission Requirements

Admission based on the university minimum requirements. Admissions are competitive.

Program Specific Graduate Assistantships  

Assistantships are offered for both the M.S. and Ph.D. tracks.

Program Specific Degree Requirements

Master’s Program Plan A

  • Approval of research plan by the graduate committee
  • Colloquium and oral defense of M.S. thesis
  • Approval of M.S. thesis by the graduate committee
  • Requires a minimum of 26 hours of acceptable graduate coursework and four hours of thesis research and a thesis (final written project).
  • 21 in-residence coursework hours

Master’s Program Plan B (non-thesis)

  • 30 hours of acceptable graduate coursework and a Plan B Paper that summarizes internship/research experience

Doctoral Program

  • Qualifying assessment exam
  • Approval of research plan by the graduate committee
  • At least one colloquium presentation per year
  • Preliminary exam
  • Oral defense of Ph.D. dissertation
  • Approval of Ph.D. dissertation by the graduate committee
  • Ph.D. requires a minimum of 72 graduate hours, with at least 42 hours in formal coursework. This includes appropriate coursework from a master’s degree.
  • Additional credits toward the 72 credit hour requirement may include dissertation research hours, internship hours, or additional coursework.
  • 24 in-residence coursework hours

Required Courses

These courses are required for the master’s program.

  • ATSC 5010: Physical Meteorology. 4.
  • ATSC 5011: Physical Meteorology II. 4.
  • ATSC 5014: Dynamic Meteorology. 4.
  • ATSC 5016: Synoptic and Mesoscale Meteorology. 4.
  • ATSC 5018: Ethics and Research Methods. 1.
  • UW Elective(s) to be determined by committee. 9 minimum

Atmospheric Science (ATSC) Courses

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
UW Operators (307) 766-1121 | Contact Us | Download Adobe Reader

Accreditation | Virtual Tour | Emergency Preparedness | Employment at UW | Privacy Policy | Harassment & Discrimination | Accessibility Accessibility information icon