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August 2007

Random Profile: Jennifer Boehnert

jennifer boehnert

Jennifer Boehnert.

Every other month, Staff Notes Monthly spotlights a staff member 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 analysis capabilities.”

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 says.

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 atmospheric science.”

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 scientific environment.”

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 through cities.”

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 Colorado.

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 says.

In this issue...

Before the flood

Storm World author comes to Center Green

Another successful year for leadership programs

Mary Marlino to head NCAR Library, e-Science

Random profile: Jennifer Boehnert

CISL cultivates the next generation

Double trouble on the storm front

Delphi Question

Just One Look


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