Staff News

NCAR Visitor Center - One-Day Closure - Saturday 10/25 more info>

Four NCAR researchers join senior scientist ranks

Bolstering our long-term scientific leadership

May 27, 2014 | At its meeting on May 13–15 in Boulder, the UCAR Board of Trustees appointed four new NCAR senior scientists:

Roberto Casini (HAO)
Gokhan Danabasoglu (NESL/CGD)
Sue Ellen Haupt (RAL)
Laura Pan (NESL/ACD) 

You’ll find profiles of each of them below.

Senior scientists provide NCAR with long-term scientific leadership. The qualifications for the position are analogous to those for a full professor at a university. Selection is based on individual competence in research and activities that enhance NCAR’s interaction with scientists in the broader community.

The board also appointed Gabriele Pfister (NESL/ACD) to the scientist III level (see profile below). Jim Wilson (EOL/RAL) and Dave Williamson (NESL/CGD) were named senior scientists emeriti.

Three university researchers were appointed as NCAR affiliate scientists, working with the following labs and programs:

Alan Blyth (University of Leeds), EOL
Elisabeth Lloyd (Indiana University), CISL/IMAGe
Lian-Ping Wang (University of Delaware), NESL/MMM

The new senior scientists


Roberto Casini

Roberto Casini
Roberto Casini. (Photo courtesy NCAR/HAO.)

Roberto’s research is focused on the challenge of reliably measuring the magnetic and electric fields in solar plasmas, a question vital to a society increasingly vulnerable to the effects of space weather and climate. He is an acknowledged expert in solar spectropolarimetry and has developed unique tools, both for the modeling and interpretation of polarimetric observations and for the design of polarimetric instrumentation.

A frequent consultant on international space missions, Roberto has served on science working groups for the NSF-funded Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) and the anticipated Solar-C space mission. He is currently leading the development of the Visible Spectro-Polarimeter instrument for DKIST, while serving as a principal investigator also on two other instrument projects, ProMag and SPINOR. All three are central to HAO’s strategic goal of understanding solar magnetism and providing the scientific community with critical data and diagnostic tools.

Roberto has been a scientific mentor to a number of students, from undergraduates to postdoctoral fellows, and he serves as a mentor to many at HAO and its community partners who are involved with remote sensing of the Sun. He received his master’s degree in physics and doctoral degree in astronomy from the University of Florence, Italy. Roberto joined NCAR in 1996 as a postdoctoral researcher.

Gokhan Danabasoglu

Gokhan Danabasoglu
Gokhan Danabasoglu. (©UCAR)

Gokhan’s research topics include investigation of the role of the oceans in Earth’s climate system and computational modeling of the oceans. The latter includes developing parameterizations at subgrid scales in order to depict physical processes that are not currently being resolved in general circulation modeling of the ocean.

Gokhan has been instrumental in developing each version of the ocean component of the Community Earth System Model since the CESM’s inception. He serves as co-chair of both the CESM Ocean Model Working Group and the Working Group on Ocean Model Development for the international CLIVAR  program on variability and predictability of the ocean-atmosphere system. Recently, Gokhan has been investigating mechanisms, prediction, and impacts of decadal-scale climate variability associated with the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. He leads efforts to establish and maintain a decadal prediction framework within CESM and is serving as the chair of the U.S. AMOC Executive Committee.

Gokhan received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. Gokhan joined NCAR as a visiting scientist in 1992.

Sue Ellen Haupt

Sue Ellen Haupt
Sue Ellen Haupt. (©UCAR)

Sue Ellen’s specialty is in applying novel numerical techniques to problems in the environmental sciences in both basic and applied research. The wide range of topics addressed in her research includes renewable energy, boundary layer meteorology, large-scale atmospheric dynamics, dynamical systems, numerical methods, artificial intelligence methods, uncertainty quantification, and computational fluid dynamics.

Sue Ellen is director of RAL’s Weather Systems and Assessment Program, where she oversees activities in renewable energy, artificial intelligence, surface transportation, societal impacts, and international aviation. She previously headed the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics at the Applied Research Laboratory of Pennsylvania State University, where she remains an adjunct professor of meteorology.

After completing her bachelor’s degree in meteorology at Penn State, Sue Ellen earned master’s degrees in engineering management (Western New England College) and mechanical engineering (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) and a doctorate in atmospheric science from the University of Michigan. She was a postdoctoral research fellow in NCAR’s Advanced Study Program and returned to NCAR, joining RAL, in 2010.  Sue Ellen has also taught and done research at the University of Colorado Boulder; the U.S. Air Force Academy; the University of Nevada, Reno; and Utah State University.

Laura Pan

Laura Pan
Laura Pan. (©UCAR)

Laura is an internationally recognized leader in the field of chemistry and dynamics of the upper troposphere–lower stratosphere (UTLS) and the boundary between these two regions, the tropopause. Her current research is centered on studies of climate-relevant UTLS processes, especially the role of dynamics in controlling UTLS composition. She combines in situ and satellite observations with model simulations to characterize dynamical, chemical, and microphysical conditions in and near the tropopause.

Laura has provided conceptual design and leadership to a number of aircraft-based field campaigns. These include Stratosphere-Troposphere Analyses of Regional Transport (START05/START08); Deep Convective Clouds and Chemistry (DC3, 2012); Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS, 2013); and CONvective TRansport of Active Species in the Tropics (CONTRAST, 2014). Field observations from these and other campaigns are key ingredients in her work . She also plays an active role in evaluating and improving chemistry-climate models.

Before earning a bachelor’s in physics from Beijing Normal University, Laura worked as a high school teacher for six years. She received her doctorate in physics from the Johns Hopkins University, followed by a three-year postdoctoral appointment at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Her work in atmospheric research began in 1991 as she joined the NASA TOMS (Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer) team at the Goddard Space Flight Center. Laura joined the NCAR scientific staff in 1992.

New scientist III


Gabriele Pfister

Gabriele Pfister
Gabriele Pfister. (©UCAR)

Gabi integrates models with measurements from satellite, aircraft, and ground-based instruments to investigate the links between local, regional, and global air pollution. She has been strongly engaged in global and regional chemical transport modeling, satellite trace gas retrievals, and field campaign data, employing data analysis and assimilation tools to bridge theoretical and experimental information. Her research has resulted in more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Gabi is a major developer and point of contact for the NCAR-based air-chemistry version of the Weather Research and Forecasting model and has led the development of several widely used community tools for processing data fed into WRF-Chem. Her research has led to improved estimates of emissions from wildfires and their impact on atmospheric composition and air quality. It has also helped advance understanding of the role of intercontinental pollution transport and the relative contributions of natural and anthropogenic emissions and transport processes on local air quality.

As part of Gabi’s strong connections with air quality managers, policy makers, and other stakeholders, she serves on the NASA Air Quality Applied Sciences Team and is a principal investigator on this summer’s Front Range Photochemistry Experiment (FRAPPÉ). She is also active in public outreach and frequently interviewed by the news media.

Gabi received both her master’s degree in geophysics and meteorology and her doctorate in geophysics at the University of Graz, Austria. She joined NCAR as a postdoctoral fellow in 2002 following a year-long position at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research.