Portrait Photograph of Steve Ackerman

Steve Ackerman


College of Letters & Science l Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies

Hometown: Brentwood, NY

Steve Ackerman moved to Wisconsin in 1987, accepting a research scientist position in the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC). He joined the UW-Madison faculty in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences in 1992. Professor Ackerman served as Director of the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) from 1999-2019. This research organization is a collaboration between the UW-Madison, and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Wisconsin is widely recognized as the birth place of weather satellites, and CIMSS is key to Wisconsin’s current reputation.

He is currently serving as Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at UW-Madison. This position provides institutional leadership in research and graduate education across campus with responsibilities for the development and implementation of strategic initiatives that seek to maintain and enhance excellence in these areas.

Recognition awards include being elected fellow to the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in 2014 and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in 2011. He received the AMS Teaching Excellence Award in 2009 and a UW-Madison Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1999. He is also a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal in 2010.

He, along with Professor Jonathan Martin, is one of the ‘weather guys’, who appear monthly on Wisconsin Public Radio to discuss the weather and climate. They also write a weekly blog (http://wxguys.ssec.wisc.edu/) and a column for the Wisconsin State Journal which answer people’s weather questions.


  • We explore the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald from perspectives of the weather, the ship and the song by Gordon Lightfoot.

  • We will review the history of weather satellites and the role UW-Madison has played.