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Director, Associate Director, and Assistant Director

Meet JIFRESSE's Director Dr. Liou, Associate Directors Drs. Friedl and Fu, and Assistant Director Dr. Su.


knliou portrait

A former chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at UCLA, Professor Liou is presently a Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences. He joined UCLA in 1997 after a 22-year career as Professor of Meteorology, Adjunct Professor of Physics and Geophysics, Director of the Center for Atmospheric and Remote Sounding Studies, and department Chairman at the University of Utah.

Among numerous pioneering and fundamental contributions in the areas of light scattering by nonspherical ice crystals, radiative transfer theory and application, satellite remote sensing, and clouds and aerosols in climate and greenhouse warming, Professor Liou is best known for his three books: An Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation (1980, translated into Chinese, Russian, and Arabic), Radiation and Cloud Processes in the Atmosphere: Theory, Observation, and Modeling (1992), and An Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation, 2nd Edition (2002, translated into Chinese in 2005). Professor Liou also authored or co-authored more than 220 peer-reviewed publications that have appeared in numerous national and international journals.

Professor Liou was elected a Member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1999 and a Member of the Academia Sinica (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Taiwan) in 2004. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the Optical Society of America, and the American Meteorology Society. Professor Liou received a creativity award from the National Science Foundation in 1996 for his work on light scattering by ice crystals. This award was followed in 1998 by the Jule G. Charney Award from the American Meteorological Society “for his pioneering work in the theory and application of radiative transport and its interaction with clouds.” Professor Liou also shared the Nobel Peace Prize bestowed on IPCC in 2007. He received the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) William Nordberg Medal at the 38th COSPAR Scientific Assembly in Bremen, Germany in 2010. The Nordberg Medal, awarded every two years, recognizes the contributions of leading scientists to the application of space science. In 2012, Professor Liou received the International Radiation Commission (IRC) Quadrennial Gold Medal at the 2012 IRC Symposium held in Berlin, Germany, for his "contributions of lasting significance to the field of radiation research."

Recognizing the potential significance for productive research collaboration on climate modeling and environmental change, Professor Liou and Dr. Randy Friedl, Chief Scientist for Earth Science and Technology Directorate, spearheaded the establishment in March 2005, of a joint (UCLA and JPL) institute in the Earth System Science field. The Joint Institute for Regional Earth System Science and Engineering (JIFRESSE) was subsequently established at UCLA and, in July 2006, Professor Liou was appointed by the UCLA Vice Chancellor for Research, Dr. Roberto Peccei, as its founding director (see EVENTS and PRESS).

Director's homepage

Associate Director

Randy FriedlDr. Friedl is currently serving as Deputy Director for Research, Engineering and Science Directorate. In addition, he is a member of the JPL Science and Technology Management Council that oversees all of JPL’s internal research and technology development investments.

Dr. Friedl received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Harvard University in 1984 prior to accepting a research position at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Dr Friedl's research is focused on gas and particle reactions relevant to the Earth's stratosphere and troposphere. For his early research work he received JPL’s Lew Allen Award for Excellence in 1990. He has authored or co-authored over 50 scientific publications and has participated in a number of international assessments, notably, as lead author for the IPCC Special Report on Aviation and the Global Atmosphere (1999), as contributing author for the IPCC Third Assessment Report on Climate Change (2001), and as co-author on the WMO Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion (2002). He has also served as the Research Focal Point for the Emissions working group of the United Nation’s Civil Aviation Environmental Program from 2001 to 2003. More recently, he was a panel member on the National Research Council’s first-ever “Decadal Survey” on Earth Science that was released in January 2007.

In addition to his JPL activities, Dr. Friedl has served several roles at NASA Headquarters. From 1994 to 1996 he was the Project Scientist for the Atmospheric Effects of Aviation Project. During that tenure, he developed and organized numerous research efforts, including several aircraft field campaigns to study aircraft impacts on the upper troposphere. Following his return to JPL, he served as co-mission scientist for the NASA ACCENT airborne field study to investigate aircraft and rocket impacts and served as flight scientist in the CRYSTAL-FACE campaign to study cirrus cloud processes in Florida. For his work on the aviation-related issues he received a NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1997 and a NASA Group Achievement Award in 1999.

Prior to reassuming his current JPL position at the beginning of 2009, Dr. Friedl spent a year and a half at NASA Headquarter as the Deputy Chief Scientist for Earth Science within the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and as the Deputy for Science within the Earth Science Division of SMD. In those roles, Dr. Friedl was the primary advisor on Earth science issues to the NASA Associate Administrator and Earth Science Director and was tasked with formulating internal strategy for the NASA Earth science program as well as joint strategies with other Federal agencies.



Associate Director 

rong fu pic

Rong Fu’s research aims at understanding the role of the atmospheric hydrological cycle and its interaction with earth’s surface in determining the stability of the Earth’s climate at global and regional scales, and at applying climate science to support regional decision.  Her research in recent decades has been focused on the mechanisms that control the rainfall variability over Amazonian and Pan-American monsoon regions, how changes of global climate, local vegetation and biomass burning, and oceanic decadal variability have influenced rainfall variability in recent past and will influence rainfall and droughts in the future, how do we apply imperfect climate information to support regional drought preparedness decision, and also on the long-range transport of water vapor and pollutants, and influence of aerosol on large rain bearing convective systems over the global tropics and Asian monsoon/Tibetan Plateau.  Her research is among the earliest to show an active role of tropical rainforests in initiating dry to wet season transition over Amazonia, and to show the significance of Tibetan Plateau in determining water vapor transport to the global stratosphere; She has also working closely with the state water agency and developed a drought early warning system that is adopted by the State of Texas. 

She received B.S in Geophysics from Peking University (1984), Ph.D in Atmospheric Sciences from Columbia University in New York City (1991), did post-doctoral research at the University of California, Los Angles (1991-1993), was a visiting scientist fellow at Princeton University (1994), Assistant Professor at University of Arizona (1994-1999), Associate Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology (1999-2008), Professor (2008-2016) and Associate Chair of the Department of Geological Sciences (2011-2015) at the University of Texas at Austin, and will be Professor in the University of California, Los Angles.  

She received a NSF CAREER Award (1995), a NASA EOS New Investigator Award (1996) and is an elected Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (2015).  She has also received the AGU Editors’ Citation for Excellence in Refereeing for Geophysical Research Letter (2006) and a NASA Group Achievement Award (2007); She has published 84 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters (19 in AGU journals), and delivered 109 invited or keynote presentations/lecture/seminars; She was a founding associate editor of “Anthopogence” (Elsevier, 2012-2014), a science advisor of Oxford Press-Environment (2013-2015), served on the National Research Council, Committee on “Challenges and Opportunities in Earth Surface Processes” (2007-2009), and on “Understanding and Observing Abrupt Climate Change” (2012-2013), NOAA Science Advisory Board, Climate Working Group (2015-), the External Science Advisory Committee of the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii (2011-2015), US CLIVAR Phenomena, Observations & Synthesis Panel (2007 – 2010).  She has also served on AGU Meeting Committee (2010-2012), President-Elect (2013-2014) and President (2015-2016) of the Global Environmental Change Focus Group, and AGU Council (2014-2016) and Council Leadership Team (2015-2016).  A selected list of review panels she has participated in includes co-chair NSF Science & Technology Center site review committee, NASA Carbon Cycle Science program, Cloud and Aerosol Program, Atmospheric Composition Program, NASA and NOAA Model, Analysis and Prediction Programs, NSF CAREER, NASA New Investigator Program, and NOAA Cooperative Institute for Climate Science.  



Assistant Director 


Dr. Su is a research scientist in the Earth Science Section of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). She received a B.Sc. of Atmospheric Dynamics from Peking University in 1991 and a Ph.D. of Atmospheric Sciences from University of Washington in 1998. She worked as a Staff Research Associate and Assistant Researcher at UCLA from 1998 to 2005 prior to working at JPL.  Dr. Su received the JPL Lew Allen Award for Excellence in 2008 and NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 2010 for “major advances in the understanding of water vapor and cloud feedbacks on climate change through quantitative analysis of observations from multiple NASA satellites.”  Her research interest is primarily in climate dynamics and convective processes. She is a member of NASA Aura and NEWS science teams and the Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator for a number of NASA funded projects.