The Nature Index, a measure of institutional research performance, ranks Colorado State University as a “Rising Star” in Earth and environmental sciences. CSU is the only U.S. university in the top 25, and the 11th fastest riser in the Earth and environmental sciences category. Rising Stars are institutions that had the strongest growth in output since 2015, based on the institution’s share of articles published in 82 prestigious scientific journals selected by an independent panel of experts.

CSU ranks 31st on the list of top institutions from around the world in Earth and environmental sciences, just behind Harvard. Researchers in CSU’s Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, Warner College of Natural Resources, and College of Natural Sciences long have been leaders in Earth and environmental sciences and produced the majority of scholarly articles factored in the index.

“The Nature Index reflects the efforts of the Department of Atmospheric Science, multiple teams in the Warner College of Natural Resources, and numerous other Earth and environmental science research efforts across the university,” said CSU Provost Rick Miranda. “I am incredibly proud of the faculty, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students who contributed to CSU’s ranking in this index.”

Top contributors

pie chart of Nature Index CSU top contributors
Earth and environmental sciences Nature Index share by CSU units. Click to enlarge.

The top contributors to CSU’s Earth and environmental sciences ranking are the Department of Atmospheric Science (16.9 shares, or fractional authorship contributions to indexed papers), Department of Geosciences (3), the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (2.8), Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology (2.3), Department of Chemistry (1.5), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (1.4), Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (1.2), Department of Statistics (0.7), Department of Mechanical Engineering (0.7), and the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (0.6).

“It is terrific to see CSU’s standing and growth in Earth and environmental sciences both so highly ranked in the index,” said Atmospheric Science Department Head Jeff Collett. “I am especially proud of the strong contributions to this scholarly ranking by the outstanding faculty, students and staff in Atmospheric Science. We look forward to working with our exceptional colleagues from across campus as we continue to build upon this signature CSU research area.”

Topics covered in the research papers that influenced the ranking represent the breadth and depth of CSU scientists’ expertise. They range from air quality to renewable fuels – from glacial dust’s effects on clouds and climate to nanofiltration of industrial chemicals.

CSU’s overall research enterprise is growing steadily, expanding by nearly $100 million in the past decade. The University’s research expenditures hit a record $398.5 million for fiscal year 2019-20, a 6.3 percent increase over the previous year, with about 70% funded by federal grants.

CSU ranked 150th among top institutions in the overall Nature Index, which reflects publications across all four indexed fields: chemistry, life sciences, physical sciences, and Earth and environmental sciences. Earth and environmental science publications accounted for more than one-third of CSU’s total output in the overall index.