The U.S. Geological Survey and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently presented UCSB Environmental Studies Professor Jeff Dozier with the William T. Pecora Award, making him one of two researchers in the nation to receive the prestigious honor this year.

Each year, the U.S. Geological Survey, which is a subdivision of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, and NASA select for their award either groups or individuals who make outstanding contributions to the understanding of the Earth’s atmosphere. Dozier is the third person from UCSB to receive the award, he said — an unusual accomplishment, considering that no other university has had more than one winner.

“The fact that I’m the third from UCSB really says something about the campus,” Dozier said.

Dozier received the award for his work in “remote sensing,” in which researchers use satellites to measure the amount of the sun’s energy reflecting off the Earth’s atmosphere, as well as the amount of natural radiation that the Earth emits.

Scientists also use “active sensors” positioned on satellites to emit radiation toward the Earth in areas that are rotated away from the sun. The sensors then measure radiation reflected back to the satellites.

Data collected from remote sensing can be used to make topographical maps, make weather forecasts and observe natural phenomena. For example, Dozier said he uses the technology to differentiate between snow, clouds and ice when making maps. For his study of snow hydrology, he uses it to record the distribution of snow on the Earth.

In addition to holding a professorship at UCSB since 1974, Dozier was the founding dean of the campus’ Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. The school was created to prepare students for environment-related professional careers, Dozier said. The program includes courses on the natural sciences, politics and corporate business, among other studies.

Dozier said he came to UCSB after teaching at CSU East Bay because he wanted to work at a more research-oriented university.

“It’s a terrific place to teach because I have innovative colleagues,” he said. “There are few barriers to working across disciplines and there’s good leadership.”

Dozier said he is an elected member of several scientific societies, including the American Geophysical Union and the American Society for the Advancement of Science.

In addition to his work on snow hydrology, Dozier said he is also interested in the study of other Earth sciences and the relationship between science and political decisions. He said he began his career studying river channel geomorphology, but became interested in snow hydrology because of his enthusiasm for mountain climbing and skiing.

Dozier said UCSB’s two previous Pecora award winners were both colleagues and friends of his. The late David S. Simonett, who received the award in 1991, worked with Dozier during his first years of teaching. The second UCSB award winner, the late John E. Estes, won the Pecora in 1999.

Dozier said he realizes the irony of studying snow at a place like UCSB.

“It’s a great place to think about snow,” Dozier said.