Dr Ryan Neely III

Dr Ryan Neely III


Ryan R. Neely III is a native of Asheboro, North Carolina. From an early age, Neely knew he enjoyed exploring the natural world with technology. Thus, his academic career has always been a blend of physics, engineering, computer modelling, travelling, and working outdoors.

Neely began his formal exploration of atmospheric science at the North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM) where he worked at the Duke Forest Free Air Carbon Experiment, looking at the impact of elevated levels of carbon dioxide on the primary production of pine trees. In 2005, he graduated from NCSSM and was awarded a Park Scholarship to attend North Carolina State University (NC State) to study Physics. While at NC State, Neely began his first work in the use of electromagnetic radiation to explore the natural world through several undergraduate research projects involving the use of Raman spectroscopy.

Also, during his time at NC State, Neely worked as a summer intern at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory within the Global Monitoring Division in Boulder, Colorado as part of NOAA's Hollings Scholar program. During these summers, Neely worked on a variety of topics but found his true passion through the use of lidar to explore clouds and aerosol.

In 2008, Neely graduated summa cum laude from NC State and moved to Boulder permanently to attend graduate school in the department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Colorado NOAA/ESRL-CIRES Graduate Fellow. During his time in Boulder, Neely worked with scientists across the world and explored the variability of stratospheric aerosol with lidar and global climate models.

Most significantly, his graduate work involved the construction of the 'Cloud, Aerosol Polarisation and Backscatter Lidar' (CAPABL) and Neely's involvement in the Integrated Characterization of Energy, Clouds, Atmospheric state, and Precipitation at Summit (ICECAPS) project. This initial work in the use of polarisation to enable the measurement of horizontally oriented ice crystals and improve the estimate of cloud phase led to Neely's current research in the use of polarised lidar and radar to investigate cloud microphysics and biodiveristy.

After completing his MSci in 2010 and PhD in 2012, Neely moved across Boulder to work as a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) prestigious Advanced Study Program. During his time at NCAR, Neely was hosted by the Atmospheric Chemistry Division (Now known as ACOM). While there, Neely continued both his development of active remote sensing technology through his involvement with the ICECAPS project and the awarding of a grant to build a high-resolution polarized Raman lidar (see below). Neely also used to state-of-the-art climate models to continue his exploration of volcanoes, stratospheric aerosol and climate variability.

In 2014, Neely moved to the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science (ICAS) within the School of Earth and Environment (SEE) and National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) at the University of Leeds as a Lecturer of Observational Atmospheric Science and Principal Investigator of the NCAS mobile X-band weather radar (NXPol-1).


  • PhD Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado (2012)
  • MSci Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado (2010)
  • BA Physics, North Carolina State University, summa cum laude with Honors (2008)

Neely supervises students undertaking an MRes in Climate and Atmospheric Science and several PhD students.

Currently, Neely is a member of the:

New PhD Projects are advertised on the Institute PhD pages and the Leeds York NERC Doctoral Training Partnership.

Major Research Instrumentation:

Research interests

  • Active remote sensing and modelling of clouds, aerosol, birds, insects, bats and atmospheric state
  • Understanding the life cycle and role of mixed-phase clouds in weather and climate
  • Extracting improved information from active remote sensing observations (particularly exploiting polarisation) through the improvements in technology and algorithm development
  • The microphysical processes that lead to various precipitation amounts and types
  • Monitoring biodiversity and atmospheric dispersal of animals with radar
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>