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Statement from OPP on the death of Dr. Konrad “Koni” Steffen

August 12, 2020

On behalf of all of us in the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs, we wish to express our deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and colleagues of glaciologist Dr. Konrad “Koni” Steffen, who died this past weekend as a result of an accident while conducting fieldwork near his long-time research site called “Swiss Camp” in Greenland.

Dr. Steffen has been an esteemed scientific leader, colleague, friend, and mentor to many of us over the years. He will be missed across the world and our hearts go out to all who are experiencing this sudden loss.

He had served as the director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research since 2012. Prior to that, he was the director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder. He spent nearly 40 years studying ice behavior in the Arctic and Antarctic and its implications for sea-level rise. 

He will be remembered for his dedication to and infectious enthusiasm and passion for polar science.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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