Antonio Busalacchi named president of University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Next president of UCAR selected following international search

May 5, 2016

BOULDER—Dr. Antonio (Tony) J. Busalacchi was named the next president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) today, following an extensive international search. He joins UCAR from the University of Maryland, where he is professor of atmospheric and oceanic science and director of the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center. Busalacchi will join UCAR on Aug. 1.

“Tony Busalacchi is an exceptional scientist and leader with a breadth of experience that will be especially important as UCAR extends its role as a leader and advocate for Earth system science,” said Dr. Eric Betterton of the University of Arizona, who chairs the UCAR Board of Trustees.

UCAR is a nonprofit consortium made up of more than 100 member colleges and universities focused on research and training in the atmospheric and related Earth system sciences. UCAR’s primary activity is managing the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) on behalf of the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s sponsor. UCAR also oversees a variety of education and scientific support activities under the umbrella of the UCAR Community Programs.

Research at UCAR/NCAR advances understanding of severe weather, climate, geomagnetic storms, and other environmental factors that have significant impacts on society in the United States and overseas, including the global economy. This work helps to improve prediction of these phenomena and strengthen national and global resilience to them.

Antonio Busalachhi
Antonio Busalacchi has been named as the next president of UCAR. Click here for a higher-resolution image. (©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin. This image is freely available for media & nonprofit use.)

“It’s an absolute honor and privilege to be selected to lead UCAR,” Busalacchi said. “Building on a long history of weather, water, and climate research, UCAR/NCAR has enormous potential to be the world’s leading institution in Earth system science across basic research, education and training, and science in support of society. I’m excited to lead the organization into a new era in partnership with NCAR Director James Hurrell and our university member community.”

In his current position at the University of Maryland, Busalacchi leads an interdisciplinary research center encompassing meteorology, oceanography, geology, and geography to investigate how the land, oceans, and atmosphere react with and influence one another.

Busalacchi has held numerous scientific leadership positions over the last three decades. He has chaired or co-chaired many committees for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and its National Research Council (NRC) as well as the World Climate Research Programme. He has served on the NAS Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) since 2003 and led BASC as chair from 2009–2014.

He has extensive knowledge and experience working with the key government science agencies in Washington, D.C., and he has a comprehensive understanding of the federal funding environment. He has also frequently testified before Congress regarding the value of weather, water, and climate research.

“The search committee for the new UCAR president was extremely impressed with the high caliber of applicants for the position, despite the great challenge this presented us in making a selection,” said UCAR Trustee Dr. Everette Joseph, director of the Atmospheric Science Research Center at SUNY Albany and chair of the search committee. “Tony’s broad experience in leading interdisciplinary organizations that span fundamental and applied research as well as demonstrating leadership in our community, experience in Washington, and vision for the future of UCAR and Earth system sciences, are all an excellent fit for UCAR going forward.”

“Throughout his career, Tony has demonstrated superb leadership and management of scientific programs,” Hurrell said. “I’ve had the privilege of interacting with Tony in his capacity as a trustee on the UCAR board since 2014 and through his service to NCAR while serving on advisory and review panels, as well as on several national and international science planning efforts. Now I look forward to working closely with him to advance the mission of NCAR.”

Prior to joining the University of Maryland faculty in 2000, Busalacchi led the Laboratory for Hydrospheric Processes at the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center (1991–2000) and the laboratory's Oceans and Ice Branch (1988-1990).

Busalacchi is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union, and American Association for the Advancement of Science. Earlier this year, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

He earned his master's and Ph.D. in oceanography and bachelor of science in physics from Florida State University. He is author or co-author of more than 100 peer-reviewed papers related to atmosphere-ocean interactions. 

Busalacchi will take the helm from NCAR Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Michael Thompson, who has served as interim president of UCAR since July 2015. Previously Dr. Thomas Bogdan served as president from 2012 to 2015.

External comments on the selection of Busalacchi

Dr. Mark Abbott, President and Director, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution:
“Tony has long been an acknowledged leader in Earth system science. He will bring a new level of energy and insight to UCAR. His extensive experience in all facets of our science, and his ability to work across the diverse membership of UCAR will be a significant asset. I am very pleased to work with Tony as we advance Earth system science for UCAR."

Dr. Waleed Abdalati, Director, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences:
"Tony has long been a thoughtful and visionary leader of atmospheric and oceanic research, and I am delighted he will be joining the Boulder community. The scientific expertise he brings to the position, coupled with his understanding and organizational leadership in the national and international arenas, will serve UCAR well. I very much look forward to working with him on advancing our nation’s environmental research capabilities."

Dr. Gilbert Brunet, Director, Meteorological Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Former Chair of the World Weather Research Programme Scientific Steering Committee, World Meteorological Organization (WMO):
“It is with great pleasure I congratulate Tony for his selection as next UCAR President. I met Tony for the first time when he was  chair of the World Climate Research Programme. Together we have valued, developed, and continuously supported the close links needed between the weather and climate communities to face the growing number of joint Earth-system prediction challenges. From these sustained efforts important international research activities bridging the weather and climate communities have been initiated like the WMO Subseasonal to Seasonal and Polar Prediction Project initiatives. Tony’s vision of seamless weather-climate science will put on a solid basis UCAR future and contribution to society.”

Dr. Rita Colwell, Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland, College Park; and Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health; Former Director, National Science Foundation:
"Tony and I have been friends and colleagues for a long time. He is kind, generous, and a brilliant scientist. We have published together and his insights and sharp intellect have always brought clarity and focus to the research. Tony Busalacchi is a splendid leader and will serve UCAR very well. I am delighted for him in this new recognition and responsibility and will look forward to his newest successes. Congratulations, Tony!

Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, Vice President for Research, University of Oklahoma:
“Tony brings to the UCAR presidency a wealth of experience; strong community engagement; and a broad, international perspective on Earth system sciences research and education. I am pleased he accepted this wonderful opportunity to serve and look forward to working with him.”

David Grimes, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Meteorological Service of Canada; President of the World Meteorological Organization:
"I was pleased to hear of Dr. Busalacchi’s appointment as UCAR President. As an international partner, I have always valued the relationship with UCAR, particularly the COMET program, which is an excellent distance training program from which many meteorologists around the world have benefitted. I also look forward to furthering our cooperation with NCAR over the coming years under his leadership. Tony’s excellent academic credentials and international experience give me great confidence that he will serve the meteorological community well. I look forward to working closely with Tony in his new position."

Dr. Thomas Karl, Director, NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction:
"My first reaction, when I learned that UCAR had selected Professor Tony Busalacchi as President, was that UCAR surely had a wise search and selection process. Tony has been a national and international leader in ocean and atmospheric science for many years.  I have seen his dedication to work well-beyond institution boundaries at the National Academies, the World Climate Research Programme, agency advisory committees and more. UCAR has selected a brilliant leader, and we all will benefit immensely."

Vice Admiral (retired) Conrad Lautenbacher Jr., former U.S. Department of Commerce Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere and former Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
"I was thrilled to learn that Tony was selected as the next president of UCAR. He is an exceptional talent, combining proven leadership skills with scientific excellence and management successes in a variety of relevant settings from university lecture halls to the halls of government."

Dr. Margaret Leinen, Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences, University of California San Diego; Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography:
“Tony is an incredible scientist and community leader. He has demonstrated a unique ability to seamlessly traverse academic and governmental arenas to advance science. He comes to UCAR at a critical time, and I look forward to working with him to encourage closer collaboration among ocean, earth and atmospheric scientists."

Robert S. Marshall, Founder & CEO, Earth Networks, Inc.:
“For many years, Tony has been instrumental in facilitating and promoting the development of strong collaborative research and development activities among the academic and commercial weather sectors.  He is the right choice to lead UCAR into the future and we eagerly anticipate working with both he and the distinguished member institutions he represents to advance technology infusion into our nation’s economy through a vibrant and expanding public-private partnership.”

Dr. Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief, Science journals; President-elect, National Academy of Sciences:
“Tony Busalacchi is an inspired choice to lead UCAR at this critical juncture. His distinguished career of service through committees of the National Academy of Sciences and long list of relevant publications in Science and top journals of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society are testimony to his understanding of the issues at the interface of science and policy. He has a reputation for strategically building institutions and guiding programs. UCAR is fortunate to have leadership of his caliber at a time when strong science voices are needed to guide sound decisions that affect everyone on the planet.”

Dr. Berrien Moore III, Dean, College of Atmospheric & Geographic Sciences, University of Oklahoma; Vice President, Weather & Climate Programs; Director, National Weather Center:
“We are delighted by the selection of Professor Anthony Busalacchi to lead UCAR as the next president into the future. Tony has the scientific, intellectual, and encompassing vision and strength of person that are necessary to chart and execute the voyage, which will meet the challenges facing our society and our planet. Well Done!"

Congressman Ed Perlmutter, Seventh District, Colorado:
"I am pleased Dr. Busalacchi agreed to lead UCAR at such an important time for our weather enterprise.  Tony brings with him the experience necessary to capitalize on the best government, industry, and academia can offer to improve our scientific capabilities and understanding. I look forward to UCAR’s continued success under Tony’s leadership."

Congressman Jared Polis, Second District, Colorado:
“Congratulations to Dr. Busalacchi on his recent appointment to be President of UCAR. Not only are we excited to have such a bright leader at the helm of UCAR, but also look forward to the contribution he’ll make to our community.”

Robert Ryan, Past President, American Meteorological Society:
"My heartfelt congratulations to Tony as the next President of UCAR. He is the perfect person to lead UCAR at such a critical time for our atmospheric sciences and the importance of support for understanding science, critical funding for the sciences and science education. I know everyone and every segment of the atmospheric, oceanic and hydrological sciences will benefit under his leadership of UCAR."

Dr. Christopher Scolese, Director, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center:
"Tony is an inspirational leader and great scientist who will be a fantastic president of UCAR. All of us at Goddard look forward to working with Dr. Busalacchi in his new position and continuing our productive relationship with UCAR."

Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere; Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
"Tony is an excellent choice to lead UCAR. He has deep understanding of the critical scientific issues of the day and he's an astute leader. Tony's awareness of the community dynamics and his excellent relationship with other leaders will serve UCAR and the broader environmental scientific community very effectively. I'm sure we will all benefit greatly from the insights, knowledge and perspectives he will bring."

Rear Admiral (retired) David Titley, Professor of Meteorology, Pennsylvania State University; Founding Director, Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk:
“Dr. Busalacchi is an outstanding choice as the next UCAR President. His combination of strategic vision, superb academic credentials, and deep knowledge of how Washington works will serve the weather enterprise well in this dynamic time.  I look forward to working with Tony in his new position.”

Dr. Louis Uccellini, Director, National Weather Service:
"Tony Busalacchi has throughout his career covered the entire spectrum of Earth System Sciences and also has  worked tirelessly to engage the larger community in important reviews of the research and research to operations enterprise. The NWS is excited and looks forward to continuing our partnership with UCAR under Tony's leadership as we work to build a Weather Ready Nation."

Rear Admiral Jonathan White, U.S. Navy Oceanographer and Navigator; Director, Space and Maritime Domain Awareness:
“Given his diverse background and unparalleled expertise, I can’t imagine there is a better individual anywhere to take on this important leadership position.  To better understand and address the challenges that face our planet’s changing ocean, atmosphere, and climate, the scientific communities that represent these interrelated earth systems must closely collaborate in the days ahead. Tony is the perfect person to help lead that collaboration, and I look forward to working with him to that end.”

Dr. John Zillman, former President of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and former President of the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS):
“Tony Busalacchi’s appointment as UCAR President is great news for international meteorology and for the  broader reaches of  Earth system science. As Chair of the WMO-IOC-ICSU World Climate Research Programme, he provided outstanding international leadership of climate research and, in my time with the Global Climate Observing System  and Global Framework for Climate Services, his energy, wisdom and commitment to collaboration made the international climate science scene a genuine  model  of international cooperation. I am sure that, under his presidency, UCAR will continue to provide outstanding international leadership in our field."



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The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.