Thompson Lecture Series

Thompson Lecture Series

The Thompson Lecture Series is one of the the career development services ASP provides to postdoctoral fellows at NCAR. Every year, a Thompson lecturer is selected by the postdocs and invited to NCAR for a 3-day visit to spend time with them and other early-career scientists at NCAR.

While at NCAR, Thompson Lecturers:

  • Present two formal talks,
  • Meet with groups of early-career scientists to provide career advice, and offer their perspectives on scientific trends and priorities, and
  • Conduct short mentoring sessions with individual postdocs and early career scientists.


The Thompson Lecture Series strives to provide many perspectives and invites speakers from a broad range of scientific disciplines, home institutions, demographic backgrounds, and different stages of their career.

The Thompson Lecture Series started 1998 and is named in honor of Phil Thompson who founded the Advanced Study Program and was NCAR's first associate director.

TLS group photo with Dargan Frierson
Having some fun with Doctor Frierson

Dr. Kim Cobb

Georgia Power Chair and ADVANCE Professor
Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Georgia Tech

Dr. Cobb is a professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Cobb’s research uses corals and cave stalagmites to reconstruct tropical Pacific temperature and rainfall patterns over the last decades to millennia. She has sailed on six oceanographic cruises and led five caving expeditions to the rainforests of Borneo in support of her research. Her research has been recognized by a number of awards, including a NSF CAREER Award in 2007, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2008, and a Sigma Chi Best Paper Award in 2013. She sits on the AAAS Climate Science Panel, the international CLIVAR Pacific Panel, and the international PAGES-CLIVAR Intersection Panel. At Georgia Tech she also serves as an ADVANCE Professor for Institutional Diversity and Georgia Power Chair. She received her B.A. from Yale University in 1996, and her Ph.D. in Oceanography from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in 2002.  

More information about Dr. Cobb is available at:


General talk: “Corals and ocean temperature extremes - a past to future view”
May 16, 2018 at 11:00am - Foothills Lab Large Auditorium

The global-scale coral bleaching and mortality event that took place in 2016 brought into sharp relief the near-term impacts of continued ocean warming on global reefs. In this talk, Kim Cobb will use a large database of coral paleoclimate records to probe the history of ocean temperature extremes, from the pre-industrial to modern period. In doing so, she will place the 2016 global-scale coral bleaching and mortally event in a longer-term context, prior to discussing the implications of her findings for coral reefs in the coming decades.

Technical talk: “Coral constraints on 20th century trends in central Pacific climate - ENSO and the mean state”
May 17, 2018 at 1:30pm - Mesa Lab Main Seminar Room

In the tropical Pacific, high intrinsic variability combined with sparse instrumental climate data confounds the identification of potential anthropogenic climate trends in this key region, where ocean temperature variations have global reach via atmospheric teleconnections. In this study, Kim Cobb presents a new ensemble of monthly-resolved records of central tropical Pacific temperature and hydrology spanning the last 150 years. Taken together, the corals resolve trends in the mean state as well as changes in the character of ENSO. By combining dynamical constraints gleaned from isotope-enabled models such as CESM as well as in situ observations of temperature and isotopes over the 2015/2016 El Nino event, Dr. Cobb outlines some of the steps required to fully leverage available coral records in the quantitative reconstruction of temperature and hydrology in this poorly-observed region of the world’s ocean.




Thompson Lecture Series Archive