Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


James Marshall Shepherd

Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor
Director, Atmospheric Sciences Program

Contact info

Geog-Geol Bldg, 210 Field Street, Athens, Georgia 30602, 107
Research Interests:

Dr. Marshall Shepherd's research focuses primarily on hydrometeorological extremes, urban climate, and the intersections of atmospheric sciences with society. He uses remote sensing, weather-climate modeling, and risk-vulnerability approaches to address challenges such as urban flooding, energy-food-water nexus, weather-climate risk, and communication-warnings.

Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd is a leading international expert in weather and climate and is the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia.  Dr. Shepherd was the 2013 President of American Meteorological Society (AMS), the nation’s largest and oldest professional/science society in the atmospheric and related sciences. Dr. Shepherd serves as Director of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Atmospheric Sciences Program and Full Professor in the Department of Geography where he was a previous Associate Department Head. Dr. Shepherd also holds a joint appointment in the College of Engineering and is the Associate Director for Climate and Outreach in its Institute for Resilient Infrastructure Systems (IRIS). 

In 2022, he was selected as Southeastern Conference (SEC) Professor of the year. In 2021, Dr. Shepherd made history by becoming the first UGA faculty member to be elected to the National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences in the same year. He is one of only a handful of scholars to hold membership in all three distinguished organizations. Dr. Shepherd is also the host of The Weather Channel’s Award-Winning Sunday talk show Weather Geeks, a pioneering Sunday talk podcast/show and a senior contributor to Forbes Magazine. Dr. Shepherd is the recipient of many awards including the 2020 Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science and the 2019 AGU Climate Communication Prize. Dr. Shepherd is the 2018 recipient of the prestigious AMS Helmut Landsberg Award for pioneering and significant work in urban climate and in 2017, he was honored with the AMS Brooks Award, a high honor within the field of meteorology. Ted Turner and his Captain Planet Foundation honored Dr. Shepherd in 2014 with its Protector of the Earth Award. Prior recipients include Erin Brockovich and former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. He is also the 2015 Recipient of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Media Achievement award, the Florida State University Grads Made Good Award and the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Sandy Beaver Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2015, Dr. Shepherd was invited to moderate the White House Champions for Change event. He is an alumni of the prestigious SEC Academic Leadership Fellows program. Prior to UGA, Dr. Shepherd spent 12 years as a Research Meteorologist at NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center and was Deputy Project Scientist for the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, a multi-national space mission that launched in 2014. President Bush honored him on May 4th 2004 at the White House with the Presidential Early Career Award for pioneering scientific research in weather and climate science.  Dr. Shepherd is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society. Two national magazines, the AMS, and Florida State University have also recognized Dr. Shepherd for his significant contributions. Dr. Shepherd was the 2016 Spring Undergraduate Commencement speaker at his 3-time Alma Mater, Florida State University. He was also the 2017 Graduate Commencement speaker at the University of Georgia. 

Dr. Shepherd is frequently sought as an expert on weather, climate, and remote sensing. He routinely appears on CBS Face The Nation, NOVA, The Today Show, CNN, Fox News, The Weather Channel and several others. His TedX Atlanta Talk on “Slaying Climate Zombies” is one of the most viewed climate lectures on YouTube. Dr. Shepherd is also frequently asked to advise key leaders at NASA, the White House, Congress, Department of Defense, and officials from foreign countries. In February 2013, Dr. Shepherd briefed the U.S. Senate on climate change and extreme weather. He has also written several editorials for CNN, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and numerous other outlets and has been featured in Time Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and NPR Science Friday.

Dr. Shepherd currently serves on the Board of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the National Academies and the Space Studies Board. He recently served on a committee examining research priorities for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He has chaired the NASA Earth Sciences Advisory Committee and was a past member of its Earth Science Subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Council. He was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Nature Conservancy (Georgia Chapter), NOAA Science Advisory Board, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s Hazard Preparedness Advisory Group United Nations World Meteorological Organization steering committee on aerosols and precipitation, 2007 Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR4 contributing author team, National Academies of Sciences (NAS) Panels on climate and national security, extreme weather attribution, and urban meteorology. Dr. Shepherd is a past editor for both the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology and Geography Compass, respectively. He has been a significant founding partner in the Georgia Climate Project as well.

Dr. Shepherd received his B.S., M.S. and PhD in physical meteorology from Florida State University.  He was the first African American to receive a PhD from the Florida State University Department of Meteorology, one of the nation’s oldest and respected. He is also the 2nd African American to preside over the American Meteorological Society. He is a member of the AMS, American Geophysical Union, Association of American Geographers (AAG), Sigma Xi Research Honorary, Chi Epsilon Pi Meteorology Honorary, and Omicron Delta Kappa National Honorary.  He is also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and serves on various National Boards associated with his alma mater.  Dr. Shepherd has authored or co-authored three books and is also the co-founder of the Alcova Elementary Weather Science Chat series that exposes K-5 students to world-class scientists. Dr. Shepherd is originally from Canton, Georgia.

  • Ph.D., Florida State University Physical Meteorology
  • Master of Science, Florida State University Physical Meteorology
  • Bachelor of Science, Florida State University Physical Meteorology

Current Grants

07/01/2020-07/29/2021 U.S. Department of Army, Engineering With Nature ® Initiative (FP00021076) US Department of Army, W912HZ2020031, (UGA Budget, $ 2,500,000) 05/01/2020-04/30/2023 (1.0 month)     

NASA, Towards Conceptualization and Predictability: A Multi-scalar Analysis of Urban-Influenced Hydrometeorological Processes. PI-Shepherd (UGA Budget, $1,564,139) 07/01/19-06/30/24 (TBD)     

NOAA, Cooperative Institute for Satellite Earth System Studies (CISESS). UGA PI (UGA Budget, up to $1 million) 07/01/2018-6/30/21 (0.25 month)

NASA, The Impact of Soil and Surface Moisture on Tropical Cyclone Reintensification Over Land. PI. (UGA     Budget, $316,516). 01/01/2021-06/30/2022 (.1 month)

Ray C. Anderson Foundation, Geospatial Tracking to Activate Drawdown Solutions in Georgia. Co-I. (Total Budget. $417,798) 12/15/2020-12/15/2021 (0.0 month)

Franklin College Office of Inclusion and Diversity, Hidden Figures in Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia. Co-I. (Total Budget. $2000) 01/01/2021-01/01/2022 (0.1 month)

UGA Office of Institutional Diversity, Assessment of Race and Heat Vulnerability in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area. PI. (UGA Budget, $9000)    12/15/2020-12/15/2021     

UGA OVPR Interdisciplinary Seed Grant, Infectious Disease and Extreme Weather. Co-I (Amount: TBD)

Pending Grants 05/01/2020-4/30/2021 (0.1 month)

NSF, SRS RN: Sustainable and Equitable Urban Stream Corridors: Reimagining urban streams to provide social and ecological benefits to urban, suburban and rural communities.

Track 2 – Planning Grant Co-PI, Rhett Jackson, Brian Bledsoe, Emily Bell, Marshall Shepherd, and Seth Wenger (UGA Budget, $150,000) 01/0/2020-12/30/2025 (0.1 month)     

NSF, ERC, Engineering Cities For Thermal Justice, Co-PI (lead at Georgia Tech), (UGA Budget, ~5 milllion)

Of note:

2021 - Present, Member, National Academies, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC), A leading advisory board for the nation and policymakers.

2017 – Present, Founding partner, Georgia Climate Project. In this role, we helped found and build the a consortium in the state of Georgia focused on climate science and solutions in a non-partisan, academic approach. Secured funding from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, in two rounds, to build the network.

2018- 2021 University of Georgia Lead PI, Drawdown Georgia. In this role, I serve as the lead administrator for a large multi-institutional project funded by the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. The project is an ambitious effort to quantify carbon drawdown solutions for the state of Georgia. I lead the UGA research effort and serve on the broader project core team.

2021 -2021, Member, Taskforce on Weather Research Priorities for NOAA

2017-2018 Associate Department Head, Department of Geography, University of Georgia: In this role, I served as the deputy administrator in the Department and an ex-officio member of the departmental advisory committee. My responsibilities included scheduling departmental courses, managing faculty teaching schedules, strategic planning for external awards, and other tasks as designated by the Department Head.

2017- 2020  Chair, NASA Earth Science Advisory Committee: The NASA Earth Science Advisory Committee is one of the FACA mandated committees that advises the agency. I served as chairman of this committee and facilitated relevant activities in that role.

2016-2017 SEC Academic Leadership Fellow: I was selected as one of four faculty leaders at the University of Georgia to participate in the SEC’s Leadership Fellows program. This program selects potential Academic leaders and immerses them within 1-year leadership and higher administration program with peers at UGA and across the SEC schools. 

Director, Atmospheric Sciences Program, University of Georgia (Current):  In this role, I direct the AMS and Federally-credential atmospheric sciences program. The program addresses the needs of students interested in studying meteorology or climate science. Under my leadership, the University of Georgia became the 78th membership of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and a member of the WSI National Lightning Network. From 2008-2015, our program faculty has attracted over $12 million dollars in extramural grants, contributed over 110 peer-reviewed journals, and provided key experts to the media and nation on weather and climate topics. For example, in February 2013, I briefed the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and in 2015 briefed members of the Congress and White House staff.  My colleagues and I are also frequently sought for major media appearances or Opinion Editorials. Our program is also notably regarded on the UGA campus and is well supported by University Administrators, including President Jere Morehead. In 2015, we proposed a new Atmospheric Sciences major at the University of Georgia. The program was approved by the State Board of Regents in August 2016. I also secured the program’s first major donor and endowment. In 2016, we partnered with the Office of Preparedness to make UGA the first SEC member of the WeatherSTEM network.

President of the American Meteorological Society (2013): The American Meteorological Society is one of the leading professional societies in the world, dedicated to weather, climate, and related sciences. As President of the organization, I was elected by the nearly 14,000 members and preside over the AMS Executive Council and Executive Committee, which overseas the organization and its multi-million dollar budget and portfolio.  I also provided vision and leadership on issues of the day facing the weather, climate, and related communities. AMS publishes several of the highest rated and cited journals in weather and climate fields and is seen as a key broker of information and leadership on weather/climate issues of the day. In this role, I also served as the U.S. representative to the International Federation of Meteorological Societies (IFMS). I also chaired the Executive Council and Executive Committee and led the annual performance review of the Executive Director.

International and National Advisory Roles: I have served as a member of the Nature Conservancy (Georgia) Board of Trustees, Board of Climate Central, Mothers and Others for Clean Air Partnership Council, NOAA Science Advisory Board, NOAA Climate Working Group, Department of Energy ARM Science Board, NSF Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education, NSF Committee of Visitors, Biocomplexity Program, Earth Science Subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Council, Mothers and Others for Clean Air Partnership Council, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Director Search Committee, University Space Research Association (USRA) Earth Science Advisory Board, Department of Energy expert panel on Cool Roof Initiative and Climate Change, NASA/NOAA/Howard University Programmatic Advisory Committees and 2 National Academy of Science Studies (i. Implications of Climate Change on National Security and U.S. Naval Operations and ii. Urban Meteorology).  I have also served on a World Meteorological Organization advisory committee related to aerosols, clouds, and precipitation and the external review committee for NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center and Hydrometeorological Prediction Center. I was also a contributing author to a chapter in the 2007 IPCC report (AR4).  At the University level, I also served on the 2013 UGA Provost Search Committee, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Senate and the Center for Integrative Conservative Research (CICR) Executive Committee.

Host, Weather Channel WxGeeks (Current):  Weather Geeks is a pioneering national Sunday talk show/Podcast by The Weather Channel. The show discusses contemporary weather and climate topics. The show has garnered strong critical reviews and an Award from the American Meteorological Society.

Ted Talks: I have delivered two TED X talks that together have nearly 2 million views. One was featured on the TED website.

Editorships:  I have served as an editor for both the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology (JAMC) and Geography Compass.  I have also served as the Climatology Editor for the Wiley/Association of American Geographers (AAG) Encyclopedia of Geography and the Associate Editor for Weather at the IEEE-sponsored Earthzine.

Former Deputy Project Scientist, NASA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Mission: While at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, I served as the Deputy Project Scientist on a major NASA mission seeking to measure precipitation from space. GPM will improve weather, climate, and hydrological forecasting and is slated for a 2014 launch date. In this role, I was a part of the scientific leadership team that interfaced with the engineers, NASA Headquarters staff, and international partners.  GPM is an approximately $1 billion dollar mission in aggregation.


2021                 National Academy of Sciences

2021                 National Academy of Engineering

2021                 American Academy of Arts and Sciences

2018                 AMS Helmut E. Landsberg Award

2017                 ESRI GIS Paper of the Year (shared award)

2017                 AMS Charles Franklin Brooks Award

2016                 Selected as SEC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellow

2016                 Florida State University, Spring Undergraduate Commencement Speaker

2015                 Florida State University, Graduate Made Good (Highest Alumni Honor)

2015                 AAG Excellence In Media Award

2015                 Franklin College of Arts and Sciences General Sandy Beaver Award for Excellence in Teaching

2015           American Meteorological Society-National Weather Association C.L. Chandler Award to WxGeeks Team (shared with Weather Channel colleagues) for outstanding contributions to the community

2014                 Distinguished UGA Athletic Association Professor in the Social Sciences Departments

2014                 Captain Planet Foundation Protector of the Earth Award

2013                 UGA Athletic Association Professor in the Social Sciences Departments

2011                 Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Diversity Leadership Award

2011                 Promoted to Full Professor at the University of Georgia

2011                 Received the AMS Charles Anderson Award

2011                 Outstanding Alumni Award, FSU Black Alumni Association

2010                 Awarded tenure at the University of Georgia

2010                 Nominated to attend 2010 UGA Teaching Academy Faculty Symposium

2009                 Inducted as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society**

2007                 Contributing Author to Nobel Prize Winning IPCC AR4**

2005                 Black Enterprise Magazine “Hot List”

2005                 Network Journal Magazine “Forty under 40” recipient

2004                 Recipient of Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)**

2004                 NASA.GSFC Group Award for Contributions to the JASON Project

2004                 Special Act Award (NASA OES)

2003                 Peer Award for Scientific Research

2002                 Recipient of NASA New Investigator Program Award

2001                 Laboratory for Atmospheres Outreach Award

2001                 NASA/GSFC Group Achievement Award

2001                 Special Act Award for superior performance of a special act (Horizon team)

2001                 Special Act Award for superior performance of a special act (Outreach Initiatives)

NASA Performance. (FY03,FY00,FY98,FY97,FY96,FY95,FY94)

1999                 1st African American to receive PhD in Meteorology from Florida State University**

1999                 NASA/GSFC Special Act Award for superior performance

1999                 NASA/GSFC Group Achievement Award-AGS Imager Team

1987-1993          American Meteorological Society (AMS)/TRW Industry Fellow

National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellow Competition (Honorable Mention)

Dolores Auzene Fellow (FSU).

Leslie N. Wilson Assistantship Recipient (FSU)

National Achievement Scholar

American Geological Institute Scholar

Chi Epsilon Pi Meteorology Honorary

Omicron Delta Kappa National Honorary

Who's Who Among College Students

Outstanding College Student of America

1990 National Collegiate Forecast Winner (Burlington, VT period).          

1987 High School Valedictorian, Cherokee High School


Courses Regularly Taught:
Selected Publications:

Select out of 120+ publications (see CV for full publication list)

2021    Shepherd, J.M., A. Thomas, J. Santanello, J. Yoo, and P. Lawston, 2020: Warm corm structure maintenance over land: A case study analysis of Cyclone Kelvin. Environmental Research Communication. 

2020    KC, Binita, M. Shepherd, A. King, and C.J. Gaither, 2020: Multi-hazard climate risk projections for the United States. Natural Hazards,

2020    Shepherd, J.M., S.J. Burian, M. Jin, C. Liu, and B. Johnson, 2020: Two decades of urban hydroclimatological studies have yielded discovery and societal benefits. Satellite Precipitation Measurement Edited by V. Levizanni, C. Kidd, D. Kirschbaum, C. Kummerow, K. Kummerow, and J. Turk

2017    Andersen, T., and J.M. Shepherd, 2017: The Brown Ocean Effect: Re-intensification of Landfallling Tropical Cyclones. Hurricanes and Climate Change, In: Collins J., Walsh K. (eds) Hurricanes and Climate Change. Springer, Cham. 117-134. doi:

2016    National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change (includes J.M. Shepherd as an author). Washington, DC: National Academies Press. DOI: 10.17226/21852.

2016    Shepherd, J.M., S. Burian, C. Lui, and S. Bernardes, 2016: Satellite Precipitation Metrics To Study The Energy-Water-Food Nexus within the Backdrop of an Urbanized Globe. Earthzine,

2016    Shepherd, J.M., and P. Knox, 2016: The Paris COP21 Climate Conference: What Does It Mean for the Southeast? Southeastern Geographer,

2015      Shepherd, J.M., and B. KC, 2015: Climate Change and African Americans in the United States. Geography Compass, 9/11, 579-591,10.1111/gec3.12244. 2015      

Debbage, N., and J.M. Shepherd, 2015: The urban heat island effect and city contiguity. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems. Volume 54, November 2015, 181–194.

2012    National Research Council Committee on Urban Meteorology, 2012: Urban Meteorology: Scoping the problem, Defining the Need (includes J.M. Shepherd as author). The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

2009    Seto, K., and J.M. Shepherd, 2009: Global urban land-use trends and climate impacts. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2009.07.012.

2007    Shepherd, J. M., A. Grundstein, and T. L. Mote, 2007:  Quantifying the contribution of tropical cyclones to extreme rainfall along the coastal southeastern United States. Geophys. Res. Lett. 34, L23810, doi:10.1029/2007GL031694. 

2005    Shepherd, J.M., 2005: A review of current investigations of urban-induced rainfall and recommendations for the future. Earth Interactions. Vol. 9. No. 12, 1–27. 


Articles Featuring James Marshall Shepherd

An American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) communication
working group, co-chaired by UGA Atmospheric Sciences Director
Marshall Shepherd, has published a white paper and brief on effective
climate change communication strategies. These reports…

University of Georgia Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences, Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd has been named the recipient of the prestigious 2023 Environmental Achievement Award.

Dr. Marshall Shepherd, UGA Atmospheric Sciences and Geography professor, moderated a discussion with Vice President Kamala Harris at Georgia Tech last week. Alongside Dr. Isaiah Bolden, Assistant Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Earth and Atmospheric…

Just over a week ago, Hurricane Ian made landfall near the barrier Island of Cayo Costa, Florida. The storm brought unprecedented destruction to a region that hadn't experienced a similar storm in over a decade. Since the storm, media coverage has been…

As Hurricane Ian barreled towards the western coast of Florida this week, Dr. Marshall Shepherd was hard at work fielding questions from a variety of high profile news outlets requesting his expertise on the storm's catastrophic potential.

Marshall Shepherd, the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia, was recently named the

March 25, 2022 marks one year after the killer EF-4 tornado tore through Newnan, GA. The AthensGaWeather broadcasting team, composed of Atmospheric Sciences undergraduates in the Geography department, was one of the many broadcasting studios to livestream…

Atmospheric Sciences alumna, Emily Wilson, was recently recognized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the "critical support [she] provided to Operation Allies Welcome", an initiative set forth by the DHS to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan…

A strange convergence led to this essay. 

Parts of Colorado received almost 2 feet of snow at the beginning of summer.

After devoting countless hours toward her thesis project, masters student Emily Pauline was prepared to graduate at the May 10 commencement ceremony.

I saw a Tweet stating that the fog in Atlanta will "burn off" later in the day. This is a very common saying, but it also ranks up there with other little sayings that bug me as an meteorologist and atmospheric sciences professor.

By Marshall Shepherd, Contributor

You see it blowing tree limbs, flags, or leaves on the ground. This weekend people from the mid-Atlantic to northeast United States will experience quite a bit of wind as a Nor'easter storm impacts the region Friday…

Marshall Shepherd, Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor and director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program, received $50,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service to examine the role of weather and climate in the 2016 Appalachian…

Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor Marshall Shepherd will receive the 2018 Helmut E. Landsberg Award from the American Meteorological Society.


Unless you are living in a mine, the popularity of the game Minecraft is unquestionable in society. Minecraft has grown to the most popular computer …

Atmospheric Sciences Program director to chair NASA advisory committee.

Read full story

Hurricane Matthew has a chance to break the decade-long major hurricane drought in the U.S.

Read full story

Four University of Georgia faculty members-Chris Garvin, Janice Hume, Marisa Anne Pagnattaro and J. Marshall Shepherd-have been selected as the university's 2016-2017 SEC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellows.

You heard about the diversity furor at the Academy Awards. Here's one you didn't hear about -- but should have

University of Georgia professor Marshall Shepherd is the narrator of a new video series released this week by NBC Learn and the National Science Foundation.

The skies were clear and calm above Athens on Monday, but that didn’t stop about two dozen University of Georgia students from learning a bit about tracking hurricanes and tornadoes.

Students in a weather processes class taught by UGA…

Shepherd, who directs the university's Atmospheric Sciences Program, will begin a one-year term as president-elect on Jan. 22 at the annual meeting of the society in New Orleans. In 2013, he will assume the presidency of the society, which was founded in 1919…

Support us

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about how to help us grow.

Every dollar given has a direct impact upon our students and faculty.