Distinguished scientist Warren M. Washington was born on August 28, 1936, in Portland, Oregon. As a high school student, Washington had a keen interest in science; after graduation he went on to earn his B.A. degree in physics and his M.A. degree in meteorology from Oregon State University. After completing his Ph.D. in meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, Washington became a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in 1963. While serving in the position of senior scientist at NCAR in 1975, Washington developed one of the first atmospheric computer models of the earth’s climate; soon after, he became the head of the organization’s Climate Change Research Section in the Climate and Global Dynamics Division.
As an expert in atmospheric science, climate research, and computer modeling of the earth’s climate, Washington received several presidential appointments. From 1978 to 1984, Washington served on the President’s National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere; in 1990, he began serving on the Secretary of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee; and in 1996, he assumed the chair of the Subcommittee on Global Change. Washington also served on the Modernization Transition Committee and the National Centers for Environment Prediction Advisory Committee of the United States National Weather Service. In April 2000, the United States Secretary of Energy appointed Washington to the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee. Washington was also appointed to the National Science Board and elected chair of the organization in 2002 and 2004.
Among his many awards and honors, Washington received both the Le Vernier Medal of the Societe Meterologique de France, and the Biological and Environmental Research Program Exceptional Service Award for atmospheric science. Washington's induction into the National Academy of Sciences Portrait Collection of African Americans in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, was announced in 1997. Washington also received the Celebrating Twentieth Century Pioneers in Atmospheric Sciences Award at Howard University, and Reed College in Portland, Oregon, awarded him the Vollum Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in Science and Technology. Washington held memberships in the National Academy of Engineering and the American Philosophical Society.
In addition to his professional activities, Washington served as a mentor and avid supporter of scholarly programs and outreach organizations that encouraged students to enter the profession of atmospheric sciences.