Space weather expert Thomas Bogdan will soon move from merely supervising U.S. forecasting of the space weather raining down on Earth to heading the nation's leading scientific organization whose portfolio ranges from "sun to mud." On 9 January, he becomes president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), which manages the National Science Foundation's largest federally funded research and development center, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. Bogdan replaces meteorologist Richard Anthes, who has spent 23 years in the position.
Housed in an I.M. Pei-designed landmark dramatically perched above Boulder, NCAR receives $179 million of UCAR's total funding of $227 million. It conducts research in atmospheric and related earth sciences using everything from high-end computers for climate and weather modeling to heavily instrumented aircraft. The remainder of UCAR's funding supports various education endeavors of interest to its 77 university consortium members that grant doctoral degrees in atmospheric or related sciences.
Bogdan, who was a senior scientist at NCAR researching solar magnetic activity before becoming director of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center, is well aware of the fiscal challenges ahead. "It is tough out there," he says, but "a good case can be made that [UCAR] products we're providing are what the world needs to survive and thrive." UCAR's science and education efforts, he says, are just what a planet beset by tornadoes, flooding, and tsunamis needs.