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March 2007

Denise Stephenson Hawk joins SERE

Denise Stephenson Hawk

Denise Stephenson Hawk.

As the newest associate director of NCAR, Denise Stephenson Hawk took the helm of the Societal-Environmental Research and Education Laboratory in January. Her goal is to link research, policy, and education.

“If I could define the ideal position for myself, then this would be it,” says Denise, who has ample experience working with both physical and social scientists. Before coming to NCAR, she was the founding director of the interdisciplinary Earth Systems Science Program at Clark Atlanta University, which involved the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities. A physical scientist herself, she also served as professor and interim chair of Clark Atlanta’s physics department.

Also on Denise’s résumé are leadership posts in academia (she served as provost for Spelman College, her alma mater) and industry (at AT&T Bell Laboratories), as well as senior-level consulting on federal transportation programs and extensive service on national advisory councils and committees.

Denise’s first contact with NCAR came during her undergraduate years at Spelman, when she attended a talk by NCAR scientist Warren Washington. “Warren focused on the dynamics of climate change and the ways that the traditional disciplines of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology contributed to our understanding of weather and climate,” she recalls. The talk was a life-changing event for Denise, who decided to shift from mathematics to environmental modeling. She went on to become the first African American and the second woman to earn a doctorate in geophysical fluid dynamics at Princeton University.

Denise points to Hurricane Katrina as a classic example of how interdisciplinary research on weather and climate can serve the nation. “Regardless of the degree of accuracy of the predictions of the storm’s track or its intensity, Katrina was still a disaster of huge proportions,” she says. “Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Floyd highlight the need for SERE and the urgency of its research.”

SERE’s work on the Earth system includes the study of human-environment interactions and the generation of policy-relevant guidance on weather and climate topics. One of SERE’s goals is to examine the ways in which social science can help citizens, governments, and businesses grapple with the challenges of weather and climate change.

In this issue...

International Polar Year kicks off this month

Project BudBurst to debut
GLOBE at Night

Short Takes

Denise Stephenson Hawk joins SERE

An interview with Katy Schmoll

Mesa Lab a medieval castle?

Just One Look


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