Climate Communications Training Workshop — Boulder


Dr. Buhr directs the Education Outreach program of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). Before beginning her work in K-12 education, she conducted research in atmospheric chemistry analytical methods with CIRES and the NOAA Aeronomy Laboratory. Susan enjoys the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of science topics through education work, and the opportunity to work with educators, students, geoscientists and social scientists. Susan’s current projects include professional development workshops for science teachers, provision of education related to research projects and oversight of numerous other education projects within the CIRES Outreach group. She received her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1995.


Katy Human is acting Executive Director for NOAA Boulder Laboratories, and is also the NOAA Office of Communications representative in Boulder, a public affairs specialist job. Her expertise is in both research and communications: She has a PhD in ecology from Stanford University and 10 years of daily journalism experience, most recently with the Denver Post, on the science beat. Before becoming a full-time federal employee two years ago, she worked for NOAA for three years as a contract employee, through the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado.


Dr. MacDonald is Chief Science Advisor for NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.  He concurrently serves as Director of the Earth System Research Laboratory, in Boulder, Colorado.  A Montana native, Dr. MacDonald’s interest in weather began at age eight, when his mother gave him a subscription to Scientific American, and he became fascinated with a nearby weather disaster.  He earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Mathematics and Physics from Montana State, before joining the U.S. Air Force as an officer, serving from 1967 to 1971.

After the service, Dr. MacDonald earned both his Master of Science degree and Ph.D. in Meteorology from the University of Utah.  Knowing that he wanted to work in the atmospheric sciences and determining that NOAA conducted the best science in this area, Dr. MacDonald sought a position at the newly formed agency (1970), beginning his career with NOAA’s National Weather Service’s Western Region in 1973.  While at the NWS, he received a bronze medal for his work on the automated weather information system.

Dr. MacDonald’s leadership role in NOAA began in the 1980s when he led a group within NOAA’s research laboratories that developed and tested systems to bring data streams and models together for operational forecasters.  He led the research/development group, later the Forecast System Laboratory (FSL), until his present assignment, and received the Department of Commerce Gold Medal Award for his role in the development of the National Weather Service AWIPS (Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System) model in 1993.

Dr. MacDonald’s contributions to the science of weather and climate include bringing parallel computing to FSL, which led to the development, installation and operation of a High-Performance Computing System called JET; developing a new, unique mesoscale weather prediction model; and originating the idea of diagnosis of three-dimensional water vapor using a GPS (Global Positioning System).  His work in the White House with Vice President Al Gore to start the GLOBE program, an educational web-based program involving classrooms worldwide in atmospheric sciences, earned him the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award in 1998.
In the new century, Dr. MacDonald invented a unique way of showcasing NOAA science. His Science on a Sphere® – a multimedia system using high-speed computers, advanced imaging techniques, and strategically placed projectors to display full-color animated images of satellite, geophysical and astronomical data on a sphere – is being placed in museums and science centers across the U.S and around the world.  More recently, Dr. MacDonald is leading efforts within NOAA to use Unmanned Aircraft Systems to improve the accuracy of weather and climate predictions.

In the last decade, Dr. MacDonald served as OAR’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for six years while directing the Earth System Research Laboratory. He was awarded a Meritorious Presidential Rank Award for his invention of Science On a Sphere® in 2007 and a Distinguished Presidential Rank Award for his leadership of the global modeling efforts at the Earth System Research Laboratory. He is still fascinated with weather and is dedicated to improving forecasts at all time scales.

Dr. MacDonald lives in Boulder with his wife, Susan, and enjoys spending time with six young grandchildren. He is still fascinated with weather and is dedicated to improving forecasts at all time scales, from severe local storms to predictions of changes in the world’s climate.


Jane Palmer is the communications coordinator/science writer at NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). She earned her Ph.D. in computational molecular biology at the University of Sheffield, England, and retrained as a science communicator in 2009 through the Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In the last few years, she has written numerous science and environmental articles for a variety of publications including Technology Review, the San Jose Mercury News, ScienceNow, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) website.