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Meet UCAR's new president

Solar physicist Tom Bogdan takes the reins

January 9, 2012  •  The opening days of 2012 launched a new chapter in UCAR history, as Thomas Bogdan arrived on January 9 to serve as the consortium’s sixth president. Appointed last October following an extensive international search, Bogdan has a rich background in scientific research and operations, program management, and visiting appointments in academia. He came to UCAR from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), which he had led since 2006. Prior to that position, Bogdan was a senior scientist at NCAR’s High Altitude Observatory.

Thomas Bogdan
Thomas Bogdan. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

“Tom’s career includes a breadth of experience with many aspects of the UCAR community and our partners in government and industry,” says Dennis Hartmann (University of Washington), chair of the UCAR Board of Trustees

Bogdan is the first solar researcher to lead UCAR since Walter Orr Roberts served as the consortium’s founding president from 1960 to 1973.

“This is an exciting time for innovation and discovery in the atmospheric and related sciences, which are the very cornerstone of our global economic prosperity and the basis for our national security, health, and wellbeing,” Bogdan says. “I couldn’t be more pleased to be coming back home to UCAR as we renew our long tradition of science in service to society.”

In 1983, Bogdan came to NCAR as a postdoctoral scientist, soon working his way up the center’s scientific ladder with an emphasis on studying the interactions between the Sun and Earth’s outer atmosphere. He left NCAR in 2001 for a two-year rotation at NSF as program director for solar-terrestrial physics. Bogdan later served at NCAR as acting director of the Advanced Study Program and the former Societal-Environmental Research and Education Laboratory before moving to SWPC.

Bogdan succeeds retiring president Richard Anthes, who served for 23 years and guided UCAR during a period of substantial programmatic growth and new research directions. (See Anthes' final President's Corner column for more about his tenure.)

“I have known Tom for many years as a superb scientist and leader, a thoughtful and considerate person, and a man of highest integrity,” says Anthes. “I have great confidence that he will provide UCAR with distinguished leadership.”

Community perspective on Tom Bogdan's appointment

“Tom is a broad thinker who brings a special understanding of atmospheric modeling, theory, and observations. His background is especially appropriate for the wide-ranging responsibilities of UCAR.”

—Alexander “Sandy” MacDonald, Director, NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory

“Tom Bogdan is an excellent scientist, an experienced manager, and an effective communicator and advocate for science both nationally and internationally. We are very excited that he will be leading UCAR into the future.”

—Dennis Hartmann (University of Washington) Chair, UCAR Board of Trustees

“NSF looks forward to working with Dr. Bogdan, the UCAR Board of Trustees, and the university community in addressing emerging national priorities—priorities that NCAR, the foundation’s largest federally funded research and development center, has the unique capacity to address.”

—Michael Morgan, Director, NSF Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Division

“Tom has a rich intellect that spans the physical domain, from the solar system and space weather to terrestrial weather and related Earth system sciences. I am excited for UCAR and know Tom will provide the leadership, intellect, and strategic foresight that the community needs for this important position.”

—Louis Uccellini, Director, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction

Bogdan assumes the presidency as UCAR prepares for the opening of a new supercomputing center in Wyoming that will provide substantial new capabilities to geoscience researchers in the United States and around the world. Colleagues familiar with Bogdan and his work point to his many skills that are complementary to his new role (see box at left).

One of Bogdan’s main goals in the coming months is to reach out to the 77 member universities and 25 academic affiliates to strengthen the bonds between UCAR and its constituency. “We will face many common challenges in the present climate of uncertainty in federal support of basic scientific research,” Bogdan says, “and we will successfully weather this storm only through our coordinated efforts built on mutual trust, appreciation and understanding.”  Bogdan is also listening to NCAR and UCAR staff through a series of small-group “meet and greet” sessions.

Bogdan earned his Ph.D. (1984) and master’s degree (1981) in physics at the University of Chicago and his bachelor’s in mathematics and physics from the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, in 1979.  He is the author or co-author of more than 100 papers in solar-terrestrial research.

A fellow of the American Meteorological Society and member of the AMS Council, Bogdan has worked closely with the World Meteorological Organization as the U.S. point of contact for space weather issues. He has chaired and served on numerous National Science Foundation, NASA, and National Research Council committees and panels that provide advice to federal agencies and policymakers. He also serves on the Advisory Council for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University at Buffalo.