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New faces in new places: recent appointments

Pennell succeeds Bonner as head of program office

William Pennell. (Photo by Robert Bumpas.)

The new director of the UCAR Office of Programs is William Pennell, who comes to UCAR from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest Laboratory (PNL) in Richland, Washington. He replaces William Bonner, who headed UOP since its formation in 1992. UCAR president Richard Anthes, in announcing the appointment said Pennell brings to the position "a strong scientific research background, excellent experience in project management, interactions with the university and NCAR scientific community, and strong interactions with federal agencies."

At PNL, Pennell was program manager of the Global Studies Program, which works toward an integrated understanding of the interactions between human activities and the environment. He also served as special assistant to Martha Krebs, director of DOE's Office of Energy Research, in her role as chairwoman of the Air Quality Subcommittee of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.

Pennell, who has degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida (B.M.E.) and University of Minnesota (M.S. and Ph.D.), has broad experience in the design, management, and performance of research in a wide range of fields, from tropical meteorology to urban air quality. His special areas of expertise include boundary layer meteorology, atmospheric turbulence, atmospheric flow and dispersion over complex terrain, meteorological and air quality field experiments, design of aircraft instrumentation for meteorological measurements, and renewable energy resource assessment. He has worked with university and NCAR scientists as a scientist and as a program manager. He has been with PNL in a variety of roles since 1977. His previous experience includes a six-year stint at NCAR, first as a postdoctoral fellow in the Advanced Study Program, then as a researcher in the Atmospheric Analysis and Prediction Department (now the Climate and Global Dynamics Division). As part of the Global Atmospheric Research Program, he studied the atmospheric boundary layer's turbulence structure and interaction with cumulus clouds and the transfer of heat and mass across the air-sea surface. He was also involved in planning and implementation of two of GARP's major international field programs.

Bonner, who retired from the UOP post 5 May, is not retiring from research; he plans collaborative work with colleagues in NCAR's Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division, as well as some writing, and perhaps lecturing. He also plans to continue to serve as chair of Clark Atlanta University's External Advisory Panel.

Blackmon returns to NCAR to head climate division

Maurice Blackmon. (Photo by Curt Zukosky.)

The new head of NCAR's Climate and Global Dynamics Division (CGD) is not a newcomer to NCAR or to the division. Maurice Blackmon spent much of the 1970s and 1980s at NCAR, and worked part of that time in a group that later became part of CGD.

Blackmon has spent the last seven years as director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Diagnostics Center in Boulder, Colorado. He joined NCAR in 1974 as a senior postdoctoral fellow in the Advanced Study Program. He served as chairman of ASP from 1976 to 1980. Then Blackmon shifted gears--"I got involved in some research that was too exciting to let go of"--and spent the next seven years working in the Global Climate Modeling Group (which predates CGD) as one of the key players in the development of the first generation of the NCAR community climate model. He also participated in climate diagnostic studies on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and other phenomena, which led to his NOAA post.

Blackmon says that one of the first tasks on his agenda will be to "get up to speed on the climate systems model [CSM]. I think it'll be an essential National Science Foundation [NSF] contribution to global change research, and I think NCAR has some unique contributions to make." Version 1 of the CSM, which eventually will be a fully integrated global model, will be developed through 1995 and frozen toward year's end. A workshop is planned in spring 1996 to introduce the model to the research community.

Outgoing CGD director Warren Washington plans to devote more time to research while continuing his extensive service work in the science community. His nomination to the National Science Board was recently approved by the U.S. Senate. The principal roles of the board are to assist the president and Congress in formulating national policies in science, engineering, and education, and to establish policies for the NSF. In honor of his recent term as president of the American Meteorological Society, Washington has also received the Le Verrier medal from the Meteorological Society of France.

New HAO director arrives

Michael Knölker. (Photo by Robert Bumpas.)

Michael Knölker took over as director of NCAR's High Altitude Observatory in April. He came here from Germany, where he was a senior scientist at the Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics in Germany. He is no stranger to NCAR, however; he was an affiliate scientist and had made a number of visits to speak and engage in collaborative research with HAO scientists. These visits included a year, from September 1987 to August 1988, working on solar magnetic structures.

Knölker received his diploma in physics from the University of GoÏttingen in 1978 and his doctorate, again in physics, from the University of Freiburg in 1983. Before taking the post at the Kiepenheuer Institute, he was an assistant professor at the University of GoÏttingen.

Though administration will take up a lot of his time, Knölker also hopes to continue his research. He has two main areas of interest: numerical simulation of intense magnetic flux tubes in the solar atmosphere, and the observational consequences of such modeling. "So I've been involved in both sides, theoretical simulation and observation." Flux tubes, he explains, are "the key ingredient of solar magnetic activity--90% of the magnetic field visible at the solar surface is concentrated in these very intense structures. Because they are elongated we call them tubes."

Knölker's "first assessment" is that HAO is on a very good track in terms of research directions. "My thoughts mainly are to do some simple additions to things being done here."

He succeeded Thomas Holzer, who held the post for five years. Holzer is now working primarily on research into the terrestrial impacts of solar output. He has recently completed a visit to Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, where he gave lectures to physics students, faculty, and the public, and continued his collaborative research with another former HAO director, Robert MacQueen. He has also just returned from a visit to Norway, where he was inducted into the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and continued his work with HAO affiliate scientist Egil Leer at the University of Oslo's Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics.

Dabberdt is new NCAR associate director

Walter Dabberdt. (Photo by Robert Bumpas.)

Walter Dabberdt, who has managed the Surface and Sounding Systems Facility of NCAR's Atmospheric Technology Division since the facility's creation in 1987, succeeded Peter Gilman as NCAR associate director on 5 June.

Dabberdt came to NCAR in 1985 after 15 years at SRI International in Menlo Park, California. (SRI was the Stanford Research Institute until it became independent from that university in the early 1970s.) He holds a doctorate in meteorology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has served on a wide variety of panels and boards on topics ranging from air pollution to micrometeorology to meteorological instrumentation.

Along with the administrative elements of his new position, he intends to "maintain an active, though reduced, research component. I'll be following Peter's lead on that. I'm also looking forward to broader personal and professional interactions with scientists at UCAR, NCAR, universities, and government agencies. It will be a challenge to help guide NCAR through these difficult times of restructuring within the federal government, but I think we may see some opportunities as well."

Gilman, a senior scientist in the NCAR High Altitude Observatory, will be focusing primarily on modeling the dynamics and magnetohydrodynamics of the layer just below the convection zone of the sun, where the solar magnetic cycle is now thought to originate. He looks forward to a fruitful year, as initial data come in from two new observation programs: the Global Oscillations Network Group instruments (GONG) and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). GONG and SOHO are observing sound waves on the solar surface. "Both of these should provide new insights into the nature of the solar interior," says Gilman.

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Edited by Carol Rasmussen, carolr@ucar.edu
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Last revised: Tue Apr 4 09:27:57 MDT 2000