CSU prof named Distinguished Professor of Finland

A Colorado State University engineering professor whose research is helping to revolutionize weather radar has been named a Finland Distinguished Professor – a high distinction that comes with an award of $1.5 million (1 million Euros).

The Finnish Meteorological Institute, the University of Helsinki and a consortium of Finnish industries and the Finnish Agency for Technology and Innovation will honor V. "Chandra" Chandrasekar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, during his visit to Finland in early May.

"Chandra has been a tremendous asset to the College of Engineering and Colorado State University and he is well deserving of this honor," said Sandra Woods, dean of the College of Engineering. "He is an exceptional faculty member whose work in the area of weather prediction and emergency preparedness is saving lives."

The goal of the Finland Distinguished Professor funding program is to strengthen scientific innovation in Finland, add a more international element to the Finnish research system, generate added value into the national innovation system and support research-driven profiling of universities and research institutes, according to the Academy of Finland website.

"I am humbled by this award and look forward to collaborative research with my Finnish counterparts at the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Meteorological Institute who also want develop Earth- and space-based remote sensing systems," Chandra said.

Chandra has been a key CSU player in the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, or CASA – an Engineering Research Center, that is developing a network of radar systems for deployment across the country. He is the leader of the sensing thrust of the project and also the deputy director for CASA. He is the co-Principal Investigator for the CSU-CHILL National Radar facility as well as a member of remote sensing research team in NASA.

The first radar network testbed created from the CASA partnership, called CASA IP-1 radars, have been tested for severe weather detection in Oklahoma's "tornado alley," which experiences about 22 tornadoes a year. CASA, IP-1 system, was designed by researchers, faculty and students from Colorado State, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagez. The low-power radar is highly reliable, inexpensive, adaptive and can operate collaboratively in a system of similar radars, and has been shown to detect tornadoes earlier than the current state-of-the-art systems.

In 2008, Chandra taught a nationwide audience of broadcast meteorologists a course on dual polarization radars that were developed at Colorado State. Dual-polarization radar is the latest technology to be used by forecasters to warn the public about developing severe weather and was adopted in 2009 as the new National Weather Service standard.

Dual-polarization works by transmitting and receiving electromagnetic waves at both horizontal and vertical polarization. This technique allows better discrimination of particle shapes, which means more accurate information can be gathered on rain and hail, snowflakes and other particles in clouds.