Six NCAR Researchers Join Senior Scientist Ranks

Promotions strengthen NCAR's scientific leadership

At its meeting on May 12–14 in Washington, D.C., the UCAR Board of Trustees appointed six new NCAR Senior Scientists (see profiles below):

  • Vanda Grubišić (EOL)
  • Dan Marsh (ACOM)
  • Scott McIntosh (HAO)
  • Rebecca Morss (MMM)
  • Matthias Rempel (HAO)
  • Juanzhen Sun (MMM)

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 Alma Hozdic (ACD) to the Scientist III level and appointed Scott Spuler (EOL) to the Research Engineer III level (see profiles below).

New Senior Scientists

Vanda Grubišić

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Vanda Grubišić (©UCAR)

Vanda Grubišić received her bachelor’s degree in physics and meteorology from the University of Zagreb and Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from Yale University. She is an internationally-recognized expert in observational, numerical and theoretical aspects in the fields of mountain meteorology and mesoscale dynamics. Her capacity to lead major scientific programs was most recently demonstrated in the planning and leadership of the T-REX (Terrain-induced Rotor Experiment, 2006, Sierra Nevada, California) field campaign with three airplanes and significant ground-based observational assets. She worked with collaborators from around the world to coordinate the acquisition of an exceptional data set on topographically-generated internal gravity waves and turbulence events, and has shepherded the ensuing research and publication efforts.

Vanda’s significant research has focused on the terrain-induced mesoscale atmospheric phenomena, including airflow perturbations and orographic precipitation. Her research spans topics from gravity wave dynamics to topographically influenced circulations and severe weather phenomena to dynamical and microphysical processes in orographic precipitation. Additionally, she has used numerical models and advanced scientific visualization of the model data to investigate physical processes of gravity wave interaction with their critical levels, formation and stability of mountain wakes, evolution of Hawaiian rain bands, momentum transport by clouds in high-latitude cold-air outbreaks, and quantitative precipitation forecasting. Her unique work on lee-wave rotors and PV banners has led to new insight in the field of mountain meteorology.

She started her research career as an NCAR Advanced Study Program Postdoctoral Fellow and then spent a decade at the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno, as an Assistant and then Associate Research Professor. In 2009, she became the tenured Professor of Theoretical Meteorology at the University of Vienna in Austria - the first woman to be appointed a full professor of any geoscience discipline in the more than 600-year-long history of that University.

She was elected a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society in 2014 and is a member of the International Commission on Dynamic Meteorology, part of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics. Vanda's ability to integrate across a range of approaches uniquely facilitates her scientific contributions to mountain meteorology. In 2011, Vanda returned to NCAR and serves as the Director of NCAR’s Earth Observing Laboratory.

Dan Marsh

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Dan Marsh (©UCAR)

Dan Marsh earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. in atmospheric and space sciences from University of Michigan and has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a global leader in the fields of whole atmosphere modeling, middle atmosphere composition and solar-terrestrial coupling and has had a long-term interest in the interaction of chemistry and dynamics in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere.

Dan’s significant research has been involvement in and then leading the development of the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model (WACCM). Dan first added an ionosphere and improved the representation of solar and geomagnetic forcing within the model and oversaw development of a version of WACCM coupled to an active ocean. Simulations from this model have been used for Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 to provide a framework for coordinated climate change experiments.

Working as a guest investigator on the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer experiment, he used empirical orthogonal functions to explore the seasonal and solar cycle variations in nitric oxide, which led to the development of an empirical model of nitric oxide that remains in use today. Dan was the first to identify a local maximum in mesospheric ozone near the polar night terminator which was named the "tertiary ozone maximum." He is active in the World Climate Research Programme activities that focus on the solar and particle influences on the stratosphere, and co-chairs a working group within the Scientific Committee on Solar Terrestrial Physics ROSMIC activity. For the last four years he has served as the President of the International Commission on the Middle Atmosphere within the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences. Currently, Dan heads up the NCAR ACOM Global Chemistry Modeling group.

Scott McIntosh

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Scott McIntosh (©UCAR)

Scott McIntosh has a bachelor’s degree in physics and PhD in astrophysics from the University of Glasgow and has emerged as a pre-eminent leader in the solar physics community since he joined NCAR in 2007. His work includes the study of coronal and chromospheric heating and of the evolution of the Sun’s global magnetic field. The heating problems are central to NCAR’s interests since the heated plasmas emit copious and variable UV, EUV, and X-radiation impacting the Earth and other planets. Scott’s research has defined new directions in solar physics, revealing provocative new results from the finest scale structures that appear important in the heating problem, to unexpected and subtle global properties of the magnetic Sun that have previously escaped recognition.

As a Co-Investigator on the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) UV spectroscopy mission, he helped define the science instrument, launched in 2012 and currently in operation. His work is characterized by an unusual level of completeness, using diverse instruments to assemble a toolkit that is sharper than the sum of its parts.

Scott’s scientific work has broadened and matured to encompass not only the extreme challenges presented by the Sun’s atmosphere, but also the problem of the global regeneration of magnetic field that is the engine of solar changes that drive the perturbations to the earth’s atmosphere. This includes in-situ measurements of the solar wind and remotely sensed data of coronal mass ejections (CMEs), the phenomenon responsible for large geomagnetic storms. Scott’s recent work has culminated in the discovery of previously unrecognized patterns in the global magnetic activity cycle that are invisible to mere sunspot studies.

Scott has appeared on national and international TV shows advising on solar physics and space weather, including BBC’s Horizon and PBS’s Nova. Recently, Scott succeeded in making a major contribution in the science definition and proposal phases of the IRIS mission based on his thorough understanding of the kinds of information that can be extracted from the instrument in the solar chromosphere and corona.

Rebecca Morss

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Rebecca Morss (©UCAR)

Rebecca Morss received a B.A. in chemistry from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rebecca’s research focuses on meteorological, socioeconomic, and public policy aspects of weather, including floods, hurricanes, and other hazards. Her areas of interest include communication and interpretation of hazardous weather risks; communication of weather forecast uncertainty; use of weather and climate information in decision making; design of meteorological and oceanographic observing networks; and extreme weather in the climate context.

Rebecca has helped initiate and lead the development of multiple U.S. and international efforts to integrate social sciences with meteorological research and applications, including the Weather and Society Integrated Studies program, the socioeconomic component of the international Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX), and the World Weather Research Programme's High Impact Weather Project.

Among other activities, she recently served on the National Research Council Committee on Progress and Priorities of U.S. Weather Research and Research to-Operations Activities, the NOAA Science Advisory Board’s Environmental Information Services Working Group, and the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative Steering Committee on Ecosystem Services. From 2009-2012, she served as an elected member of the Council of the American Meteorological Society, and she currently serves on the American Meteorological Society Planning Commission.

Matthias Rempel

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Matthias Rempel (©UCAR)

Matthias Rempel received his diploma in physics in 1998 and his Ph.D. in astrophysics in 2001 from the University of Gottingen, Germany. Matthias’ area of research has centered on solar magnetohydrodynamics. He applies analytical theory and advanced numerical computational models to tackle complex nonlinear problems that are central to understanding the origin of solar magnetic variability.

Today, he has established himself as a leading figure in computational solar physics. Mathias’s papers on sunspots have changed our understanding of solar physics, namely, what are the causes of the complex structure of sunspots. This research has resulted in breakthrough advances in the study of solar convection zone dynamics and dynamo processes responsible for the generation of the solar cycle and the formation and evolution of sunspots and active regions, which are the source regions for major solar eruptive activities. With an in-depth understanding of MHD and radiative transfer, combined with outstanding knowledge and skills in high-performance computing, Matthias is able to build numerical models and carry out numerical experiments with unprecedented physical realism that make headway in solving the most difficult, long-standing problems in solar physics.

Matthias was awarded the UCAR Distinguished Achievement Award in 2012 for his groundbreaking numerical simulations capturing the 3D structure of sunspots and was awarded the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society in 2003 and received the Wempe award of the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam (AIP) in Germany in 2009. In 2011, he received the Harvey Price of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society for his work on the structure of sunspots and on flows and magnetic fields in the solar convection zone, and particularly for bringing state-of-the-art numerical methods to bear on these problems. 

Juanzhen Sun

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Juanzhen "Jenny" Sun (©UCAR)

Juanzhen “Jenny” Sun received her bachelor’s degree in Meteorology from Lanzhou University of China and master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. Jenny has made major contributions in the area of convective-scale data assimilation and nowcasting. Her most significant contributions are her pioneering research on radar data assimilation and its role in convective predictability, developing the 4DVar radar data assimilation system VDRAS, and applying these advances to improve convective weather nowcasting using the WRF model. Most recently, Jenny has expanded her research into several new areas at the forefront of modern weather prediction, such as thunderstorm nowcasting, wind-energy prediction, and prediction of flash floods.

Jenny is recognized as a leader in the area of radar data assimilation and numerical weather prediction (NWP) for nowcasting and high impact weather applications. She leads NCAR’s STEP (Short Term Explicit Prediction) program, focusing on the development of WRF-based mesoscale data assimilation systems including 3DVAR and 4DVAR techniques, and the Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) technique. Jenny led or actively participated in a number of international projects aimed at the development of high-resolution data assimilation and nowcasting systems for high-impact weather.

She is an active member of the Nowcasting Working Group of the WMO WWRP (World Weather Research Program), leading a worldwide effort on bridging the gap between NWP and nowcasting. She received the NCAR outstanding publication award for her pioneering work on the research and development of a convective-scale radar data assimilation system that is now used by several operational centers.

New Scientist III

Alma Hozdic

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Alma Hozdic (©UCAR)

Dr. Alma Hozdic obtained her Masters in Science and Engineering degree in Meteorology from the National School of Meteorology, France and her Ph.D. from the Ecole Polytechnique in France where she worked in the Laboratory of Dynamic Meteorology with Dr. Vautard on air quality and aerosol modelling at the urban scale. For two years she was a postdoctoral student in the Advanced Studies Program at NCAR working on modeling of aerosol properties and processes in highly polluted conditions such as wildfires and megacities.

In particular, her research is aimed at understanding and improving the representation of atmospheric aerosols, and their retroactions on regional photochemistry and meteorology. She contributes to the development and evaluation of community models used for chemical weather predictions (WRF-Chem) and process modeling studies (GECKO-A).

She characterizes the composition and origin of atmospheric aerosols in polluted and clean conditions by improving the representation of emission sources, organic aerosol formation processes, removals, and interactions between aerosols, gases, and radiation in models. Alma also provides 3D and box modeling expertise during field projects (MILAGRO, BEACHON, NOMADSS) to help interpret aerosol measurements and test new model parameterizations. Alma is a member of the NCAR Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling Laboratory, Regional & Process Modeling group, in the Chemistry Modeling section.

New Research Engineer III

Scott Spuler

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Scott Spuler (©UCAR)

Dr. Scott Spuler is a Research Engineer III in the NCAR Earth Observing Laboratory, and the only research engineer in NCAR at present. Scott holds a B.S. in Civil/Environmental Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Applied Optics/Engineering Systems from the Colorado School of Mines.

His research is focused on the development of innovative optical and laser based instrument systems and the study of the atmosphere using those systems. Scott has advanced both in-situ and optical remote sensing of atmospheric properties.

Dr. Spuler was responsible for the design of a rapid-scanning eye-safe lidar system capable of atmospheric flow visualization. Several patents were issued for the novel technology, which was successfully transferred to industry and used for U.S. national homeland security from 2007-2012. He also designed the optical and laser delivery system for a unique holographic cloud particle probe. Using this instrument, scientists could for the first time study the local structure and spatial distribution of cloud particles.

More recently, Dr. Spuler has been a principal investigator for the development of a laser-based instrument to measure wind velocities in the undisturbed flow ahead of aircraft. Using this instrument, scientists were able to calibrate aircraft sensors and make measurements of airspeed, pressure and temperature with unprecedented accuracy. Dr. Spuler is also a principal investigator to develop a low-cost optical remote sensor for profiling atmospheric water vapor that is critically needed for a national mesoscale weather observation network.