Huber receives 2023 McCoy Award for pioneering work to assess global climate risk

Matthew Huber (Purdue University Photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Matthew Huber, the David E. Ross Director of the Purdue Institute for a Sustainable Future and professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, has been chosen to receive the Herbert Newby McCoy Award for outstanding work in the natural sciences.

Huber’s achievement will be recognized on April 22, when Karen Plaut, executive vice president for research, will host the Excellence in Research Awards and Lectures event from 2-5 p.m. in the North Ballroom of Purdue Memorial Union. Huber will present a lecture titled, “The History and Future of a Hot World.” All faculty, staff and students as well as the public are encouraged to attend. Event details and registration information can be found here. The award will be presented at an event in May.

Huber’s research focuses on global modeling of past, present and future climate conditions and climate’s impact on human settlements, managed landscapes and natural land, ocean and cryosphere ecosystems. His work is helping to explain the physical processes that generate tropical “thermostats” as well as the amplification of warming at the north and south poles, and the environmental, economic, ecological and evolutionary implications of these processes. He is specifically examining the human health and economic impacts under different future greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

“Professor Huber’s scholarship has been internationally recognized for its far-reaching global conclusions on the effect that human activity will have on the Earth’s habitability, resilience and sustainability on longtime horizons,” said Greg Michalski, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, and analytical chemistry, in nominating Huber for the honor. “His recent achievements in the field of the Earth’s climate — past and future — have had major scientific and societal impacts.”

Huber, who was given the College of Science Research Award in 2022, also received the Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award from the American Geophysical Union in 2018. The annual Ascent award recognizes excellence in research and leadership in the atmospheric and climate sciences.  

Huber says he is honored to have been singled out for the McCoy award.

“I am deeply grateful for this recognition, and thankful to my research team and collaborators who conducted the research, and to my colleagues who supported my nomination,” he said. “But I am most gratified by this award as a concrete recognition by Purdue University that climate change is a real and present danger.”

Huber, who has published over 130 journal papers with more than 14,800 citations, said he is looking forward to the problem-solving stage of his future work. “One can only solve a problem by first defining it properly. Much of my work up to this point has been identifying the unique vulnerabilities of various regions to increasing heat stress — the next phase will be using this knowledge to build out solutions.”

After receiving a doctorate in earth sciences in 2001 from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Huber joined Purdue as an assistant professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences in 2003. In 2007, he was promoted to associate professor and in 2011 became a full professor.

The Herbert Newby McCoy Award was established in 1964 by Ethel Terry McCoy in honor of her husband, a distinguished Purdue University alumnus. Winners of the McCoy Award are nominated by colleagues, recommended by a faculty committee and approved by the executive vice president for research and the university president.