Diana Josephson and Linda Mearns take on new positions
Diana Josephson. (Photos by Carlye Calvin.)
Diana Josephson took the helm of the Societal-Environmental Research and Education Laboratory (SERE) on April 1. She succeeds interim SERE director Tom Bogdan.
Diana, who has considerable government and private sector experience, says she’s been “doing a lot of listening” since coming on board. She’s meeting with staffers in SERE as well as people elsewhere in NCAR and in the community to weigh directions for the new lab and determine how it can best collaborate with other NCAR labs.
In other SERE news, Linda Mearns has been named director of the Institute for the Study of Society and Environment (ISSE).
SERE, founded in 2004 as part of the NCAR reorganization, incorporates ISSE and the Advanced Study Program (ASP).
A diversity of experience
Diana, who joined NCAR’s Advisory Council in 2003, was most recently the senior vice president of the advocacy group, Environmental Defense. Before that, she was one of four principal deputy assistant secretaries in the U.S. Navy, serving as the number-two person for worldwide naval installations and environmental issues. She had been NOAA’s chief operating officer in the mid-1990s, where she oversaw the procurement of
$4 billion in satellites and the modernization of the National Weather Service. She also worked on the commercialization of Titan satellites for Martin Marietta in the late 1980s.
Diana began her career as a lawyer, specializing in urban issues. She was serving as the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area in the 1970s when NOAA approached her about a job as deputy assistant administrator for policy and planning. At the time, she didn’t even know what NOAA stood for. But it sounded like an interesting opportunity, and she quickly researched the agency and landed the job—the first of three positions she would hold at the agency.
“I made a major career shift and found I was good at my new job, and I enjoyed it,” she says. Diana says she works to “see the connections between disparate things” and bring ideas from conception to execution.
She is used to being a pioneer of sorts. “I’ve generally been the first woman in whatever job I’ve had,” she says.
The SERE position will enable Diana to build on her skills, both in terms of managing a scientific group and explaining climate research to policy makers and business leaders.
She believes that a nonscientist can bring an important perspective. “You ask simple questions and that often startles people who are down in the details,” she says. “It can be very useful.”
Linda Mearns, the first woman scientist to head an NCAR division, has followed a much different career path than Diana.
Linda's first taste of NCAR was as a research scientist from 1982-83, an experience that inspired her to return in 1985 as an ASP graduate student to complete a cooperative thesis with the department of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. After another ASP stint, this time as a postdoc, she worked in CGD until 1997, when she moved to ESIG (now ISSE).
Linda is a highly respected researcher in several areas, including crop-climate interactions, climate change scenario formation, and climate change impacts on agricultural ecosystems. One of her current projects is leading an international team of scientists who are using an ensemble of global and regional climate models to simulate how North American climate will change by the middle of this century. She has participated in each of the assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and she leads NCAR’s initiative for the assessment of weather and climate impacts.
Linda succeeds Bob Harriss, who will remain at ISSE as a senior scientist focusing on a variety of projects dealing with the societal impacts of environmental change.
• by David Hosansky and Bob Henson
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