UCLA climate statistician Karen McKinnon was selected to the 2021 class of Packard Fellows for Science and Engineering. The honor is given annually to 20 innovative early-career scientists and engineers, and it comes with an award of $875,000 over five years.

McKinnon’s research uses climate dynamics, statistics and machine learning to understand and predict climate variability and change. Her goals include informing policymakers’ and planners’ ability to respond to the effects of climate change, particularly in vulnerable regions that are susceptible to wildfires, major storms and other extreme events.

“At a time when we are confronting so many difficult, intertwined challenges, including climate change, a global pandemic, and racial injustice, I am buoyed by the determination and energy of these 20 scientists and engineers,” said Nancy Lindborg, Packard Foundation president and CEO.

The award was introduced by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation in 1988 to give early career scientists and researchers more freedom to pursue their own research with few restrictions. Fellows meet annually to discuss their research and explore possibilities for collaboration.