ESSIC Celebrates 2023 Peer Awards

Chelsea Parker smiles alongside Director Ellen Williams

Caption: Chelsea Parker receives her award from ESSIC Director Ellen Williams

As a now traditional part of the ESSIC end-of-year Holiday Party, two annual peer awards were presented to honor the year’s Best Paper and the Employee of the Year. This year, Director Ellen Williams presented these awards to Chelsea Parker, Assistant Research Scientist, and Brenda Torney, Payroll Coordinator.


Parker was recognized for her paper, “The influence of recent and future climate change on spring Arctic cyclones” published in Nature Communications in 2022. The study used high resolution regional modeling techniques and downscaled global climate reconstructions to examine how recent and future climate changes alter cyclone behavior. Parker and her co-authors found that recent climate change has not yet had an appreciable effect on Arctic cyclone characteristics. However, future sea ice loss and increasing surface temperatures drive large increases in the near-surface temperature gradient, sensible and latent heat fluxes, and convection during cyclones. The future climate could increase the distance that cyclones travel and increase and prolong intensity with greatly augmented wind speeds, temperatures, and precipitation. Such changes in cyclone characteristics could exacerbate sea ice loss and Arctic warming through positive feedbacks. The paper received significant media coverage, indicating its impact on the public.


As a payroll coordinator, Torney is often one of the first people new employees meet upon onboarding. She goes above and beyond to ensure that the onboarding is seamless for new hires to navigate and feel welcome at ESSIC. She answers questions quickly, patiently, and efficiently, all while maintaining a high level of accuracy. For situations that require extra attention, she tirelessly works until issues are resolved, all the while promoting a welcoming and supportive work environment. Torney consistency goes beyond the extra mile to provide her assistance, often thinking innovatively as she searches for new ways to improve. This year, CISESS went from hiring around 20 summer interns to hiring 35, and Torney handled the extra work brilliantly. Her dedication towards her role as a payroll coordinator, exceptional attention to detail in managing payroll, and attitude towards providing excellent customer service to ESSIC faculty and staff make her a well-deserving recipient of the Employee of the Year 2023 staff award.


Congratulations to both Chelsea and Brenda for these well-deserved awards!