Random Profile: Jennifer Boehnert
Every other month, Staff Notes Monthly spotlights a
selected from the phone directory with the help of a random
number generator. This month we profile Jennifer Boehnert,
who holds a joint appointment between ISSE and RAL.
On the job: Jennifer works on NCAR’s GIS (Geographic
Information Systems) Initiative as GIS coordinator for the
organization as a whole. The initiative began in 2001 with
the goal of promoting the use of GIS in the atmospheric sciences.
“My job is to support any GIS activity that happens
here at UCAR/NCAR,” Jennifer says. “This ranges
from scientists who want to use GIS as a tool in their research
to engineers who want to take advantage of GIS display and
GIS refers to a variety of software tools that capture, store,
analyze, and display data that are spatially referenced to
Earth. It allows users to search and analyze data and display
the results with maps.
“A big part of my job is to bridge the worlds of GIS
and the atmospheric sciences, which is a very up-and-coming
area,” Jennifer says.
When she came to NCAR in 2003, the idea of applying GIS technology
to the atmospheric sciences was still in its infancy. Most
weather and climate data are three-dimensional, whereas GIS,
due to its surface-based orientation, isn’t designed
to support three-dimensional displays.
“Nobody ever really thought of using GIS as a tool
for the atmospheric sciences because the incompatible data
formats couldn’t be brought into GIS very easily,” Jennifer
The challenge of bridging this divide has been particularly
rewarding for Jennifer. “A lot of the work I do here
is new, so it really is a matter of trying to find solutions.
I’m always problem solving,” she says. “There
aren’t many other places in the field of GIS where
I could work on this cutting-edge integration of GIS and
She also appreciates the fact that her role as GIS coordinator
puts her in contact with a wide array of researchers across
the organization. “I like the fact that I meet a lot
of different people and work on a diverse range of interesting
projects,” she says. “It’s a very creative
One of her current projects involves helping RAL researchers
use GIS to create displays of toxic plumes in urban areas. “They
run plume models, and then I bring them into three-dimensional
displays to see how the plumes react to buildings and move
Off the job: Jennifer grew up in Guelph, Ontario, located
just west of Toronto. A dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, she moved
to the United States after graduating from the University
of Guelph, working in Idaho for some time before coming to
She currently lives in Nederland with her husband, Joel,
and their two shepherd mixes, Valentine and Blaze. “I
like to say we have 150 pounds of dog,” she jokes.
She and Joel spend their free time recreating in the mountains,
usually within sight of the Indian Peaks. They snowboard
at Eldora, mountain bike around Nederland, and climb in Boulder
Canyon. They also enjoy traveling. Last year they went to
Europe, and they’re currently eyeing South America.
A longtime soccer player, Jennifer coaches a team of 9-to-11-year-olds
in Nederland each fall. And although she claims to not have
a green thumb, she started gardening this summer in Nederland’s
challenging botanical environment. “It’s been
such a hot summer that it’s a struggle, but I’ve
got one terrace garden that’s surviving,” she
In this issue...
World author comes to Center Green
successful year for leadership programs
Marlino to head NCAR Library, e-Science
profile: Jennifer Boehnert
cultivates the next generation
trouble on the storm front
Just One Look
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