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Samuel Williamson

Atmospheric scientist Samuel P. Williamson was born on March 5, 1949, in Somerville, Tennessee to the late Julius Williamson, Jr. and Izoula Smith. He graduated from W.P. Ware High School in 1967. Williamson received his B.S. degree in mathematics from Tennessee State University in 1971 and his B.S. degree in meteorology from North Carolina State University in 1972. He went on to earn his M.A. degree in management from Webster University in 1976. From 1996 to 1997, Williamson was a visiting Executive Fellow at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government where he explored national security issues involving science, technology, and public policy.

In 1971, Williamson was hired as an elementary mathematics teacher in the Fayette County School System in Tennessee. Later in 1971, he began his atmospheric science career as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force’s Air Weather Service. In 1977, Williamson joined the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For more than twelve years, he was NOAA’s principal planner and ultimately the Director of the Joint System Program Office for the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) WSR-88D, Doppler Weather Radar System through the design, development and initial deployment of this first major joint program among three Federal departments—the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Transportation. Later, as a Senior Staff Associate for the National Science Foundation, Williamson enhanced science education. In his role as a senior advisor to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, he helped shape the legislative agenda for science, space, and technology policy. In 1998, Williamson was appointed as the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research. As the Federal Coordinator, he is accountable to the U.S. Congress and the Office of Management and Budget for systematic coordination and cooperation among 15 Federal departments, independent agencies, and executive offices with meteorology programs or interests to ensure the Federal government provides the best possible weather information and user services to the Nation. Under his leadership, significant advances were made in the areas of aviation weather, space weather, wildland fire weather, weather information for surface transportation, advanced modeling and data assimilation, and tropical cyclone research and operations.

Williamson is a member of the American Meteorological Society, the Montgomery College Foundation Board, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the National Guard Association. He also serves on the Committee for the Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability (CENRS) of the National Science and Technology Council.

Williamson is a recipient of the Presidential Rank Award (2010), the NOAA Distinguished Career Award (2010), the NOAA Bronze Medal (1996), and the National Guard Association of the United States Garde Nationale Trophy (1993). In 2006, Williamson was elected as a Fellow of the African Scientific Institute.

Samuel P. Williamson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 22, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.142

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/22/2013

Last Name

Williamson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

P.

Schools

Harvard University

Webster University

North Carolina State University

Tennessee State University

Fayette Ware Comprehensive High School

Jefferson Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Samuel

Birth City, State, Country

Somerville

HM ID

WIL64

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Charleston, South Carolina

Favorite Quote

Be the best that you can be

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

3/5/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Atmospheric scientist Samuel Williamson (1949 - ) was appointed as the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1998. In 2010, Williamson received the Presidential Rank Award and the NOAA Distinguished Career Award.

Employment

United States Department of Commerce

United States Air Force

Fayette County School System

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Samuel Williamson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson talks about his mother's education and her employment

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson describes his father's family background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson describes his father's family background - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Samuel Williamson talks about his father's personality and his education and his employment

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Samuel Williamson talks about his father's employment

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson talks about his mother's education and his relationship with his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson talks about his father's service in World War II as a quartermaster on the Red Ball Express and his skill as a sharpshooter

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson talks about his parents' last years together

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Samuel Williamson tells the story of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - part one

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Samuel Williamson tells the story of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - part two

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Samuel Williamson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson talks about his mathematical skills

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Somerville, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience in grade school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson talks about his teachers in grade school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience in high school - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience in high school - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Samuel Williamson describes his decision to attend Tennessee State University and receiving a scholarship to do so

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Samuel Williamson talks about joining the U.S. Air Force ROTC at Tennessee State University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Samuel Williamson talks about getting married in 1970

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience at Tennessee State University the evening that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson describes the events on Tennessee State University's campus following Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson talks about his family

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson talks about his teachers at Tennessee State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson talks about his career in the U.S/ Air Force, and well known football players who were at Tennessee State University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson talks about football player, Joe Gilliam

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson talks about athletes from Tennessee State University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Samuel Williamson describes his decision to study meteorology at North Carolina State University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience while studying meteorology at North Carolina State University

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience with racism while trying to find housing near Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Samuel Williamson describes his experience at Charleston Air Force Base

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson describes his decision to pursue his master's degree in management at Webster University's Air Force extension program

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson describes his contributions at the National Weather Service and as the principal planner of the NEXRAD Joint System Program

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson talks about his mentors, Richard Hellgren and Colonel William Barney

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson describes his work as the deputy director of the NEXRAD Joint System Program

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson talks about receiving the Presidential Rank Award in 2010

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson talks about retiring from the U.S. Air Force in 2001

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Samuel Williamson talks about radar technology for weather and airplane control, and explains the phenomenon of wind shear

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Samuel Williamson talks about phase array radar

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Samuel Williamson shares his perspectives on the evolution of weather warning systems, and the need for infrastructure to sustain inclement weather

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson discusses the importance of improved weather warning systems and shelter infrastructure

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson discusses the need for better response to severe weather warnings and improved shelter infrastructure

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson explains why the United States is prone to tornadoes

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson describes his work in the area of atmospheric and environmental transport dispersion models

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson describes his contributions to improving traffic reports for increasing the safety of highway travel

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson describes his work on improving predictions of the development and impact of storms and hurricanes

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Samuel Williamson talks about providing recommendations for better ways of dealing with wildfires in the western U.S.

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Samuel Williamson talks about his collaboration with federal agencies to monitor the impact of solar radiations

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson reflects upon his career and his legacy - part one

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson reflects upon his career and his legacy - part two

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Samuel Williamson reflects upon his career in the military and his experience as a Visiting Executive Fellow at Harvard University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Samuel Williamson reflects upon the mentoring that he received over the course of his career in the federal government

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Samuel Williamson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community today

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Samuel Williamson talks about his wife and his two children

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Samuel Williamson talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Samuel Williamson describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$6

DAStory

7$5

DATitle
Samuel Williamson talks about his father's personality and his education and his employment
Samuel Williamson describes his contributions to improving traffic reports for increasing the safety of highway travel
Transcript
And so, he [Williamson's father, Julius Williamson, Jr.] was picked to do good; he was well known in the community, well respected, he promoted education, he was a family man, he always wanted--he was very spiritual, he was a deacon in the church where he actually grew up at. He became a deacon on the deacon board in 1950 and served fifty-four years on the deacon board where he retired in 2004. He passed the torch to my brother, whose name is Julius Williamson III. He also was chairman. I had already left, you know, I had my own career and so forth. So, but he was the one the community looked up to, my dad was well known and very respected. When people wanted things they came to him, if blacks wanted to borrow money from the bank his word was good enough, you know, up to a certain amount. So he helped people and he believed in helping people and I remember when I was a child, my dad had a lot of clothes and stuff that he had gotten, he was giving things away and my mom [Izoula Smith Williamson] said, "Let me look at it first before you give away everything." So that's just the way he was. I will tell you one other story, he drove a school bus and then there was a young man who every morning, you know, it was cold in the winter time and he would get on the bus with no coat. My day said, "Where's your coat?" He said he left it; there was some excuse he gave every day. As it turns out he didn't have a coat and so about the third day because it was so cold, the kid gets on the bus, my dad had gone to a store and bought a brand new coat and gave it to him. So I happened to meet this young man as he is now an adult and he was telling me about this story about what kind of heart my dad had. He just wanted to help people, he felt that he was in a position; it wasn't like we were out there sharecropping and have to worry about being evicted off our land because we had our own (unclear). So I think a lot of my drive came from my father, my mom was just loving, she just cared, she did everything, you know, for her children but my dad was the primary provider.$$Okay. Now did your dad get a chance to finish school?$$No he did not, my dad had about a fifth grade education. When he went into the [U.S.] Army, then of course as part of the schooling that he got in the Army, then once he came off of active duty in 1946 the VA had what you called the GI school, means that there was money that where you could go to the school and you could learn a trade. I think he really wanted to do his in farming. He had ideas about of becoming a large farmer; he wanted to become a big farmer, you know, a black farmer. And so he learned a lot about how to manage business and so forth. So when you add up his technical training he received once he came off active duty, I would say it probably equated to a GED equivalent to high school.$$So he went to school on the GI bill?$$They called it GI school at the time but it was really the GI bill (unclear).$$So is the GI school to help people in agriculture--?$$Agriculture, development but also there were other skills too. If you wanted to become plumbers, they were technicians. The Booker T. Washington era for what he promoted was technical training, you know, become technicians.$$Industrial (unclear).$$Industrial (unclear)--.$The next thing I did in this job [Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)], I think is very important here is you think about the number of people who are dying on the highways and byways we have about 7,000 people dying on the highways every year. We have about a half million people that are being injured on the highway that are caused by weather. You may have a pile-up caused by fog, or you may have a hundred car pile-ups because of smoke, or for haze or what have you. You may have a pile-up because of frozen or liquid precipitation or even snow or what have you. So what we've done here is we have what you call a national review of what our needs and priority are on where we should be focusing our attention on research and how--what do we do about the black ice problems on bridges. What can we do now to better mitigate that issue so that when you're traveling on these bridges you don't start slipping and sliding and then create a accident that kills yourself or you run into somebody else and it kills them. What can we do to mitigate the fog problems that we are experiencing that are causing these car pile-ups. So what I have done is with this national needs assessment is that, we started a whole train of events of things that people can do. One of the first things you hear when you turn the TV on in the morning time is that you get a weather report and you get a traffic report so what we are doing with that is we are sensitizing people that you are traveling to work and you want to know how the weather is going to impact your travel. That's what I started, I started all that. It got started on all the TV networks; the weather channel works hand in hand with me. That's saving lives if you are more sensitized on what is going on. Another important thing is if you are traveling on vacation we started a national number called 511, you know what 911 is when it comes to emergencies, you dial 511, have you ever dialed it before, you are going to get two things. One is that you are going to get information about road construction or road maintenance so that you have a sense now of where traffic is going to be slow on that artery. Second thing you are going to get is weather. So if you want to know how the weather is impacting your travel on interstate 81 or 66 or 40 or any of the main arteries that you are going to be traveling throughout and in the country then that's what we are giving you now. That's something that I started. The goal is to save lives and it was never done before, this is the first time that this has ever been done when I started this.

Vernon Morris

Atmospheric scientist Vernon R. Morris Vernon was born on [month day, year?] in [city, state?]. Morris graduated from Morehouse College in 1985 with his B.A. degree in chemistry and mathematics. Following graduation, he enrolled at Georgia Institute of Technology. Morris received the Regent’s Scholarship and the NASA Graduate Student Research Fellowship to pursue his theoretical and experimental studies of inorganic peroxides in the Earth’s stratosphere. After graduating with his Ph.D. degree in earth and atmospheric sciences from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1991, Morris was awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship where he worked on the chemical dynamics of free radical systems important in comets and the interstellar medium.

Morris served as a part-time instructor at Spelman College while striding for his Ph.D. degree. Later, he joined Howard University’s Chemistry Department as an assistant professor. In 1996, he became the deputy director of the Howard University Center for the Study of Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Atmospheres (CSTEA). From 2001 to 2004, Morris served as the director of the Howard University Graduate Program in Atmospheric Sciences (HUPAS) and was instrumental in developing atmospheric sciences as a major focus of the university’s research portfolio. Morris was then named director of the Howard University Component of the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center. Morris also served as director of the NOAA Center in Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) as well as the co-director of the Laboratory for Molecular Computations and Bioinformatics at the National Institutes of Health Research Center for Minority Institutions. He was a visiting scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Branch and served briefly as chair of the chemistry department at Howard University.

Morris is a member of several scientific boards and professional organizations. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) and the Advisory Board of the Benjamin Banneker Institute for Science and Technology. Morris is also a member of the American Meteorological Society, the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, the American Geophysical Union, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Advanced Study Institute.

His combined concentration on academic research and focus on atmospheric sciences has garnered for him recognition from professional and academic associations. Morris is a recipient of the University Merit Award, the Howard University Faculty Merit Award and Howard University’s Most Productive Faculty Researcher in Natural Sciences award. Morris received the prestigious NSF Career Award from the Geosciences Directorate for his research on the photochemistry of carbonaceous aerosols.

Vernon R. Morris was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 29, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.083

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/29/2013

Last Name

Morris

Maker Category
Middle Name

R.

Schools

Morehouse College

Georgia Institute of Technology

NATO Advanced Study Institute

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Vernon

Birth City, State, Country

San Antonio

HM ID

MOR13

Favorite Season

None

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

1/23/1963

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Atmospheric scientist Vernon Morris (1963 - ) is the director of the Howard University Component of the NASA Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center, director of the NOAA Center in Atmospheric Sciences, and co-director of the Laboratory for Molecular Computations and Bioinformatics at the National Institutes of Health Research Center for Minority Institutions.

Employment

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

University of California

Howard University

Center for the Study Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Atmospheres

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center

NOAA Center in Atmospheric Sciences

National Institute of Health (NIH) Research Center for Minority Institutions

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:490,6:4214,127:7056,202:7546,208:8526,224:9604,237:15952,288:16979,311:21166,458:32138,570:32410,575:33022,587:33566,597:37260,642:38470,656:38910,661:47858,778:48596,785:49744,806:50072,811:51384,828:52286,841:53516,867:56350,878:68260,1029:78519,1144:82371,1164:83504,1189:90248,1274:91968,1311:95484,1342:95946,1351:99230,1380:100010,1405:100465,1413:102415,1452:102675,1457:103000,1463:105610,1477:106050,1483:116416,1591:116800,1596:117568,1604:121440,1620:122952,1650:123384,1657:124608,1689:132481,1794:141390,1961:141750,1967:151970,2171:153038,2190:155886,2223:156420,2230:156776,2235:168140,2363:169190,2375:173040,2397:173661,2407:175179,2438:188716,2605:189540,2614:190570,2627:197710,2663:200080,2675:200850,2687:201550,2699:202530,2776:217389,3067:219759,3105:220075,3111:247557,3455:267840,3614:268290,3620:269010,3633:269640,3642:273139,3670:273991,3682:274275,3687:274843,3698:275624,3715:275908,3722:277186,3748:277754,3758:280901,3768:287644,3831:288828,3847:289124,3852:291122,3908:302906,4054:303686,4069:308600,4150:315030,4226$0,0:2214,33:4230,61:4734,69:5526,88:15310,234:21660,424:24220,465:27340,511:28140,523:29020,542:30220,560:33796,596:34204,605:34612,615:34969,623:38686,685:39342,695:41638,737:41966,742:42294,747:42622,752:43114,760:44016,777:44426,783:48362,897:57397,979:59666,1006:60050,1016:60242,1021:66358,1053:66826,1060:67684,1077:69910,1098:71076,1113:71818,1125:74040,1156:81956,1245:82940,1258:83596,1267:84826,1284:92047,1392:92371,1397:92776,1403:93181,1410:93586,1417:94153,1425:94801,1444:95287,1451:95611,1458:98851,1507:100066,1527:104064,1551:106416,1596:106836,1603:107508,1628:114654,1737:115046,1742:130980,1945:131488,1982:134765,2009:135733,2018:145100,2096:146300,2136:147560,2166:148160,2177:148400,2182:150865,2190:151157,2195:151668,2211:154077,2308:157581,2348:161544,2362:162164,2373:162412,2378:163814,2388:164507,2399:165431,2415:166432,2430:172260,2508:172592,2513:173173,2521:173754,2530:174750,2545:175331,2554:175663,2559:178226,2578:178698,2583:181049,2627:181317,2632:181786,2640:182054,2646:183193,2670:183662,2678:185136,2708:188686,2730:189178,2738:190326,2756:191310,2775:192212,2788:192786,2797:193114,2802:202284,2869:202776,2876:205890,2894:206502,2904:207250,2918:207794,2927:210718,2996:210990,3001:211262,3006:211942,3017:212622,3030:214730,3085:215274,3101:215614,3107:216566,3130:217314,3149:217722,3169:217994,3174:224980,3246:227868,3311:228172,3316:237900,3494:238550,3507:238810,3512:241470,3529:245952,3577:247488,3599:248256,3610:249312,3622:250176,3636:254680,3678:255517,3690:255982,3696:256447,3702:256819,3707:257284,3714:258679,3736:267035,3820:267580,3826:268016,3833:268452,3838:279574,3884:280384,3894:281275,3906:281599,3911:282571,3925:283543,3940:285325,3967:285811,3975:286783,3990:287917,4008:293310,4040:293990,4052:294534,4061:295078,4071:296030,4093:296982,4110:297458,4118:298206,4132:298682,4141:299226,4153:304711,4204:311221,4245:311569,4250:312787,4261:313222,4268:314005,4279:314788,4290:315832,4307:317920,4339:338460,4557:338820,4562:339990,4572:340350,4577:340890,4585:341790,4596:343320,4622:350750,4686:352290,4711:353900,4736:354530,4748:355090,4757:355650,4766:355930,4771:356420,4780:357050,4791:357820,4803:360300,4814:363700,4839:364652,4848:370340,4876
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Vernon Morris' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Vernon Morris lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Vernon Morris describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Vernon Morris talks about his maternal great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Vernon Morris talks about his maternal grandmother, and his mother's growing up in Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Vernon Morris describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Vernon Morris talks about his father's growing up in Arkansas City, Kansas, and his career in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Vernon Morris talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Vernon Morris talks about his likeness to his father, and lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Vernon Morris talks about his mother's personality and her career as an educator

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Vernon Morris describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Vernon Morris talks about his family's frequent relocations while his father was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Vernon Morris describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up - part one

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Vernon Morris describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up - part two

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Vernon Morris talks about going to school in Japan

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Vernon Morris talks about continuing his schooling in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Vernon Morris talks about attending school in Spokane, Washington, and going to Expo 74, The Spokane World's Fair

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Vernon Morris talks about his interest in the outdoors, and his middle school science project

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Vernon Morris talks about his interest in TV shows and books about exploration

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Vernon Morris talks about his experience in the Cub Scouts and his interest in tinkering with gadgets

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Vernon Morris talks about his experience in school in Washington State

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Vernon Morris talks about the African American community in Spokane, Washington

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Vernon Morris talks his interest in reading, stamp collecting, music, and in electronics and programming

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Vernon Morris talks about his interest in space exploration and airplanes

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Vernon Morris talks about his involvement in sports in high school and being a member of the choir at Bethel AME Church in Spokane, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Vernon Morris talks about his academics and social life in high school in Spokane, Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vernon Morris talks about his father and a the network of African American college students who influenced him to go to college - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Vernon Morris talks about his father and a the network of African American college students who influenced him to go to college - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Vernon Morris talks about his academics in high school and graduating from high school in 1981

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Vernon Morris talks about taking the bus from Spokane, Washington to Atlanta, Georgia to attend Morehouse College

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Vernon Morris describes his first encounter with chemistry professor, Henry McBay, and his experience in his classroom

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Vernon Morris talks about his professors at Morehouse College and his formative education there - part one

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Vernon Morris talks about his professors at Morehouse College and his formative education there - part two

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Vernon Morris describes his social and extracurricular activities at Morehouse College

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Vernon Morris describes his involvement with the Frederick Douglass Tutorial Institute while at Morehouse College

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Vernon Morris talks about his experience in Henry McBay's chemistry classes at Morehouse College

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Vernon Morris talks about his experience as a student in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Vernon Morris describes his experience as an undergraduate researcher with HistoryMaker, John Hall, Jr., at Morehouse College

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Vernon Morris describes his undergraduate work on matrix isolation of short-lived chemical intermediates that influence atmospheric chemistry

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Vernon Morris talks about the technological advancements in computers and lasers in the 1980s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Vernon Morris describes his decision to pursue his doctoral studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Vernon Morris describes his experience as a doctoral student at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Vernon Morris describes his Ph.D. dissertation on the investigation of short-lived organic compounds of stratospheric significance

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Vernon Morris describes the chemical destruction of the ozone layer, and the implications of the depletion of the ozone layer

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Vernon Morris shares his perspectives on global warming and its implications

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Vernon Morris reflects upon being the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in geophysical sciences at Georgia Tech

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Vernon Morris describes his note-taking strategies as a graduate student at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Vernon Morris talks about those that influenced his scientific career

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Vernon Morris talks about graduating from Georgia Tech, and his postdoctoral experience at the NATO Advanced Study Institute in Italy

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Vernon Morris describes his experience as a postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Vernon Morris describes his experience as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Vernon Morris talks about joining the faculty at Howard University in 1994

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Vernon Morris talks about the establishment of the Howard University Program in Atmospheric Sciences (HUPAS)

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Vernon Morris talks about his early days as a faculty member at Howard University's department of chemistry

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Vernon Morris talks about receiving the National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award in 1997

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Vernon Morris talks about his experience with the NASA Center for the Study of Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Atmospheres and HUPAS

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Vernon Morris talks about his experience at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Vernon Morris talks about competing for a NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences position at Howard University

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Vernon Morris describes his work with the AEROSE (Aerosol and Oceanographic Science Expeditions) project - part one

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Vernon Morris describes his work with the AEROSE (Aerosol and Oceanographic Science Expeditions) project - part two

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Vernon Morris describes the findings from the AEROSE project, and using the data to study the throughput of biological mass between continents

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Vernon Morris talks about student participation on the AEROSE cruises, and the land-based measurement sites in Africa

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Vernon Morris talks about the parallels between the AEROSE expeditions and historic passages along the same route

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Vernon Morris talks about the NOAA Center in Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) Weather Camp

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Vernon Morris reflects upon improving the NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences' visibility on Howard University's campus

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Vernon Morris talks about collaborating with the Department of African Studies at Howard University on NCAS's work in Africa

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Vernon Morris talks about his career goals for the future

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Vernon Morris discusses the Howard University NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences' work in Africa

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Vernon Morris reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Vernon Morris describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community today

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Vernon Morris talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Vernon Morris talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

1$7

DATitle
Vernon Morris talks about his professors at Morehouse College and his formative education there - part one
Vernon Morris talks about his experience with the NASA Center for the Study of Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Atmospheres and HUPAS
Transcript
So we were just talking about Henry McBay [chemist and teacher at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia] and his--$$Yeah.$$--the legend of Henry McBay--$$Yeah.$$--amongst all the black chemists.$$Yeah, I think he's definitely influenced a generation of African American chemists, certainly through Morehouse, but also through Clark Atlanta [University, Atlanta, Georgia]. And I wouldn't have made it in chemistry and math had it hadn't been for him. I would have been on a completely different track, there's no doubt. I used to go to him, I went to him throughout the four years I was there. I never did research with him. I actually did research with John Hall, Jr. [chemist; also a HistoryMaker], and really it was those two guys who--you know, that department changed my course significantly.$$Now, what made Henry McBay special, you know? You talk about his ability to deliver all this information--$$Oh yeah.$$--but what actually made him special?$$You can tell he loved what he was doing. I mean there's the, the joy that he had in figuring out a chemistry problem, or relaying knowledge was just, it was tangible. And for me, not having particularly influential teachers--or teachers who could hold my attention, to sit in a lecture--and you know, my mouth is open the whole time. And I'm seeing things that I never saw in the same way before. And then, you could talk to him. He was the easiest person, ever, to talk to. I mean, and talk about anything, you know, from girls to, you know, mathematical organic chemistry. And you know, that's, you know, you need a person like that, I think at an age where you can be influenced. You're looking for guidance, you know, which way should I go? And I was like, you know, that's a guy I'd like to, you know--he's relaxed, he's comfortable, he's doing what he loves. And that's a job I'd like to do. And I saw a similar thing in John Hall. I mean, he really did the things, he appeared to be doing things the way he wanted to do them, on his terms. He had a joint appointment between Morehouse and Georgia Tech [Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia] at the time, you know. Dr. McBay was known all over the world. And he said, okay, I can master this area. And I love math, and chemistry is okay, I can deal with chemistry. And the physics department there--Carlisle Moore was another big influence of mine, an extremely difficult professor. Very few people got As. Henry Gore was my math professor. So I was really fortunate to go to Morehouse at that time, when you really had these sort of giants of education in physical sciences and mathematics. Just some outstanding people, and outstanding teachers as well. They really knew the material, but they really knew how to convey the material and challenge you. There was no, no slacking off in those classes.$$Now, was Benjamin Mays [minister, educator, scholar, social activist; president of Morehouse College from 1940 to 1967; mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King] president at that time?$$Now, Bennie Mays was not. He had retired, maybe a year or two before I left, because I went to his memorial service while I was Morehouse. Gloster, Hugh Gloster, was the president.$$Okay.$$And then Gloster left, and it was, I forgot his name. It'll come to me. But it was Hugh Gloster, it wasn't--$$Was it a Luther White, not Luther White--$$No, it was, he was a businessman, a business background.$$Well, don't worry about it. We'll just--$$Yeah, it'll come to me.$$Okay.$$But yeah, I believe I was fortunate. You know, J.K. Haynes [biologist; also a HistoryMaker], J.K. is still there. I go back and visit. You know, Morehouse replaced my high school, in terms of a place that I would go back to and say, that's my formative development. You know, Dr. Gore left, Henry Gore left. But I think Dr. Moore just retired, but I go back and visit Dr. Moore, who was the chairman. I majored in chemistry and math, minored in physics. So once I got started there, you know, it was a great set of guys I was studying with, and just fantastic and motivating teachers.$$Okay.$$So, if I could have triple majored in four years, I'd have done that. You know, I loved the courses I was taking.$Okay, so how was your time spent basically, proportionately, between teaching and doing research and administration [at Howard University, Washington, District of Columbia]?$$It was probably equally split. Administration wise, I had responsibilities in the NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] Center [Center for the Study of Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Atmospheres] as deputy director. And so, I was responsible for the day to day work--the reporting, you know, development of strategic mission and goals and business spokesman for the center. And I also ran some of the outreach programs, writing proposals to help supplement some of our other programs. And early on, teaching. The teaching load was probably more than most people, because I had to teach both in chemistry--in order to earn tenure in that department--but I also had to teach in atmospheric sciences so that we could spin up that program. And then research, you just have to do. You have to, you gotta publish papers to stay solvent. And so it was, it was really taxing. But the early, you know, the first probably five or six years was a lot of nose to the grindstone. But, you know, looks like it's paid off.$$Okay, alright. Alright. So, the program, the graduate program actually starts up in '98 [1998]?$$Right, '98 [1998], it got approved by the Board of Trustees.$$Okay.$$So, that was four years which, again, looking back, it's kind of record time. It's the only inter-disciplinary degree granting program here at the university. And we put together and had it approved within the four years, which is actually pretty remarkable.$$Now, how big was your staff, I mean in terms of your, I mean the faculty of the department?$$At that time?$$Yeah.$$We probably had in '94 [1994], I think, I mean '98 [1998], was we probably had three people--(simultaneous)$$(simultaneous)$$--three or four people. It's Sonya [Smith], Everette [Joseph], Greg [Jenkins, also a HistoryMaker], myself.$$Okay, four.$$Yep, three or four.$$Alright.$$And, and that's when we spun up, yeah.$$Okay. Now--$$But we also had, so we had a good relationship with NASA. So we had adjunct professors from NASA at that time. We had a couple of adjunct professors from NASA, probably two. I think it was Rich and Walls. Actually Rich, Walls and Dean Duffy. So, it was three adjunct professors from NASA. It turned out that one of the professors who taught me at Georgia Tech [Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia] left Georgia Tech and became the lab chief at NASA Goddard. In fact, NASA Goddard [Maryland] recruited pretty heavily from Georgia Tech, because the atmospheric science program there had pretty high prestige, and did the type of modeling and data assimilation, data integration, that was very germane to NASA's earth science program. So, it was, we had a per chance meeting. I had a technical review of the research center at NASA that called over to Goddard. And so we're sitting at this long conference table in his office. He's sitting at one end and I sit down at the other end. And we're talking, and I see him looking at me, you know, kind of, do I know this guy? But I didn't say anything until the end of the meeting and I walked up and I said, "You know, you taught me fluid dynamics in grad school." And he was like, "I knew I knew who you are." (laughter). Franco Einaudi, who was probably one of my favorite professors there. Actually, even though he's not, didn't teach in the area that I performed research in or emphasis, but Franco was the lab chief for the lab of, used to be atmospheric chemistry and dynamics at Goddard. And we sat down and talked, and after that, he's been a huge supporter of our program here.$$How do you spell his last name? It's Franco--$$Franco, F-R-A-N-C-O, first name. Last name, E-I-N-A-U-D-I.$$Okay.$$And you know, he basically allowed for NASA scientists to become adjunct professors. He encouraged them to become adjunct professors in our program. You know, allowed our faculty and students access to facilities there. My first lab, I had trouble finding a lab space on campus. My first lab was at NASA Goddard. He provided me lab space to do experiments over there. So, he's definitely been a mentor and friend and colleague. He's retired now, but we're still in touch.$$Okay. So, Howard has this ongoing partnership with NASA Goddard-$$Yeah.$$And now what is, now is this in Beltsville [Maryland], or--$$No, Beltsville is different. So the Beltsville facility is in--Howard has some land, had some land in Beltsville since the '60s [1960s] or late '60s [1960s], early '70s [1970s]. And basically we saw an opportunity out there to develop an observational facility, a research facility that would be focused on atmospheric sciences. Because I left Howard to work for NASA in 19--, in about 1998.

George Philander

Professor and atmospheric scientist S. George Philander was born on August 25, 1942 in Calendon, Republic of South Africa. His father was the noted Afrikaans poet and the headmaster of the Belgravia High School in Athlone. Philander received his B.S. degree in applied mathematics and physics from the University of Cape Town in 1962. When apartheid laws were sanctioned in South Africa, his family decided to move to New York City. He went on to attend Harvard University and graduated in 1980 with his Ph.D. degree in applied mathematics.

Following graduation, Philander was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the department of meteorology. He then became a research associate in the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Program at Princeton University, and was promoted in 1978 to senior research oceanographer of the program. Philander held the position for eleven years until he was appointed as a full professor of geosciences and director of the program in atmospheric and oceanic studies at Princeton University in 1990. He served as chair of the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University from 1994 to 2001 and was then named the Knox Taylor Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University in 2005. Throughout his career, Philander has served as a consultant to the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and as a visiting professor at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France. His research on oceanic and meteorological changes have resulted in the publication of over one hundred academic papers, nine chapters in books, and three books on such topics as El Niño, the Southern Oscillation, and global warming. In 2007, he finally returned to South Africa and joined the University of Cape Town as a research professor.

Philander was elected as a Fellow into the American Meteorological Society in 1986, the American Geophysical Union in 1991, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2004. The University of Cape Town bestowed upon Philander an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree in 2007.

S. George Philander was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 8, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.064

Sex

Male

Interview Date

3/8/2013

Last Name

Philander

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

University of Cape Town

Harvard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Calendon

HM ID

PHI04

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

Favorite Vacation Destination

Southwestern United States

Favorite Quote

Why Not?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

8/25/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Princeton

Country

South Africa

Favorite Food

French Food

Short Description

Atmospheric scientist George Philander (1942 - ) , former Knox Taylor Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University, is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Employment

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Princeton University

World Meteorological Society

NOAA

Museum National d'Histoire

California Institute of Technology

University of Cape Town

African Centre for Climate and Earth System Science (ACCESS)

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
525,0:1120,9:2905,30:4520,58:5880,91:6985,103:7750,113:12301,145:13225,157:13841,167:14688,181:19100,248:22108,324:22672,332:27950,407:31560,479:32320,485:33365,500:44248,634:44840,643:45210,649:46172,671:49206,723:56950,841:57310,849:59890,906:60130,911:68468,1028:68836,1033:71788,1055:72100,1060:72412,1065:73582,1091:77170,1157:80290,1206:80602,1224:87667,1286:88052,1292:101275,1425:111791,1601:112136,1607:119943,1717:122996,1797:133208,1943:135818,1991:153307,2222:158815,2313:160111,2336:165688,2375:166272,2384:177990,2525:178473,2534:192130,2669:192900,2680:194363,2695:194748,2701:198444,2775:201678,2845:202217,2853:202910,2865:207224,2892:208706,2929:209105,2937:209846,2957:210245,2965:210701,2976:213300,2990:214660,3022:215136,3030:218444,3076:219302,3091:221348,3137:228539,3224:228931,3234:231990,3290:232350,3297:235510,3333:235770,3338:236160,3346:244640,3476:253392,3612:253697,3618:260922,3733:261182,3739:264156,3772:264461,3778:264827,3786:265193,3794:265437,3799:276105,3913:276445,3918:277125,3938:277465,3943:277975,3969:281885,4039:290052,4128:292180,4178$0,0:3242,55:6462,123:6922,129:9444,141:9752,146:10214,153:10984,170:11523,179:12139,194:12678,202:26787,386:40168,575:42440,581:42712,586:44004,610:45160,680:46656,702:46928,707:47404,730:49240,756:49512,761:49852,768:50600,777:51688,804:52368,815:59401,871:61564,911:70854,974:72942,1043:76565,1088:88078,1216:95580,1282:95970,1289:97785,1303:99259,1328:101001,1366:106428,1462:107165,1474:111370,1498:117940,1602:119060,1620:120260,1646:125740,1756:127070,1781:128050,1807:129030,1834:141810,2001:147438,2022:148054,2031:149110,2046:161571,2176:162093,2183:163920,2230:167855,2318:193365,2628:193745,2633:194930,2642
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Philander's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Philander lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Philander describes his mother's family background, her growing up, and her education

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Philander describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Philander talks about his father's experience as a teacher in South Africa and his interest in poetry

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Philander talks about the ethnic groups in South Africa and historical background of South Africa's race relations

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Philander talks about his likeness to his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Philander talks about the institution of Apartheid in South Africa

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George Philander talks about his brothers, South Africa's education system, and his father's appreciation of America

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Philander talks about his family, reflects on graduating high school, and describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Philander talks about leaving South Africa and his father's reaction, and his appreciation for Afrikaans

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Philander talks about recently being contacted by one of his peers from high school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Philander talks about his academic performance in high school, his teachers, his attitude towards the future, and his preparation for college

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Philander talks about the quality of his high school education and his science courses

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Philander talks about his appreciation of Beethoven and Bach and his music teacher's influence

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Philander talks about his decision to attend the University of Cape Town in South Africa

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Philander talks about his studies at the University of Cape Town

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George Philander talks about his impression of the U.S. higher education system and his decision to study there

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - George Philander talks about his experience living under Apartheid in South Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Philander talks about the University of Cape Town's reputation as the "Moscow on the Hill"

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Philander talks about his reaction to Apartheid ending and Nelson Mandela's peaceful political methods

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Philander talks about his experience at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Philander talks about Harvard's reputation and his affinity towards Indian people

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Philander talks about the importance of encouraging self-confidence in students and the limitations of the South African education system

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Philander talks about the declining appreciation of science in the U.S.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Philander talks about his introduction to applied mathematics and his welcoming acceptance into the scientific community

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Philander talks about the field of atmospheric science

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Philander talks about the equator and people's fascination with it

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Philander talks about the issues with communicating science to the public

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Philander talks about fluid dynamics and the equatorial undercurrent

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Philander talks about his experience as a post-doctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technoogy

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Philander talks about John von Neumann and his contributions to weather forecasting and computer science

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Philander talks about how he received his job opportunities and his research

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Philander talks about meeting his wife and his experience living in England

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George Philander explains El Nino and La Nina and their role in climate patterns

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George Philander talks about Warren Washington and the progress of weather prediction

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George Philander talks about Nelson Mandela, science development in South Africa, and the themes in the movie, "Invictus"

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George Philander talks about the political discourse regarding global warming

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - George Philander talks about why he named his article 'Where are you from? Why are you here? An African Perspective on Global Warming'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - George Philander talks about the geography of Cape Town, South Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - George Philander talks about science's limitations and natural phenomena

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - George Philander talks about why he became a scientist

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - George Philander talks about his educational outreach efforts in South Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - George Philander reflects on his legacy and life choices

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - George Philander talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - George Philander talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - George Philander talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - George Philander describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$1

DAStory

2$6

DATitle
George Philander talks about the geography of Cape Town, South Africa
George Philander talks about the ethnic groups in South Africa and historical background of South Africa's race relations
Transcript
What are some of the--just as somebody in the atmospheric science of, what are some of the problems in Africa in terms of the--well, I know I've always read about the spread of the desert, you know, and knew that Sahara was a place you could graze animals shortly before--(simultaneous)--$$(Unclear)--$$--the, you know, the time of Christ or whatever, you know.$$Ten thousand years ago.$$Yeah, yeah, and so what are the dynamics of that--(unclear), (simultaneous)--$$Yeah, it's, it's, again, an open question. We don't actually have answers. Cape Town [South Africa], well, one of the things I did when I was there is try to make the students aware that (unclear) a very unusual place. And the evidence for Cape Town being unusual is actually quite straightforward. The plants in the world, all the plants are divided into six kingdoms. And some of them are big, the Boreal Forest is one. And it stretches from North America to Europe and there're a few others. There're only six. One of those six is in Cape Town. So there's a most peculiar set of plans that have evolved there. And so the question is, why is Cape Town--so you need many micro-climates to accommodate this great diversity of species. Why does this, why is this place favored with all this diversity? And the answer is quite fascinating. If you take Miami [Florida], which is humid, wet, lots of rain. It's next to a warm ocean. It's perfectly flat, and you take Los Angeles [California], which is arid, it has mountains. It's next to a very cold ocean. Now, suppose through plate tectonics you would deform the continent and you put Miami next to Los Angeles. The result would be Cape Town. So Cape Town's the only city with a warm beach and a cold beach. The Atlantic side is cold and it has a mountain in the middle, depending which way the wind blows, one side of the mountain is arid. The other side is, has forests. You have enormous diversity of climatic zones.$$Is it because it's right there at the tip of Africa?$$Exactly, so, and it's--so, for example, you could say Peru and Brazil are similarly different. But you'd have to have cut up the continent and put, put Peru next to Brazil to get the same the same. So it's, and then you have to go back in time. So how long has this been the case and how did the spot evolve? It becomes a fascinating scientific study. And so it, there's all sorts of problems unique to that place. And then if you go South from there to Antarctica, it's basically, almost unexplored ocean. And most of the CO2 we put into the atmosphere, goes into that ocean, the plants there. So there's lots of opportunities for scientific research there. And the, you can't divorce it from the past, going back thousands of years. Earlier, you asked about Milankovitch cycles. So climate, as we've had ice ages, we have climate. All of that suddenly becomes part of the story, and what I told the students, they're not only in a very special place, they're in a special place at a special time, that the present is actually an unusual moment in the history of the plant. We humans showed up some time ago, but it's just the last few thousand years that we suddenly took off. And most of the time, there were ice ages. We had the moment in between. So we had this very--that's why I'm saying the global warming thing is very dangerous. We have lots of evidence, things change. We have ice ages. We go out of ice age. And we don't understand why, and we decide to interfere with the system. And that's why I think we're bound to be surprised by what's gonna happen. We understand it so poorly. We can't, at the moment, can't explain to you why there were ice ages. We just, embarrassing, and I pretend I can tell you what's going to happen fifty years from now. You know, it all comes back to being a more modest, there's a lot more we don't know than we know.$$Okay, so being involved in oceanography or geosciences at this point in time is it like being a pioneer--you're a pioneer?$$Exactly, a very exciting time, yeah. The, and it still goes back to that Alexander Pope, "it's dangerous--little learning is a dangerous thing." You discover there's more and more things to discover.$Now, is there on your mother's [Alice Harker] side and your father's [Peter Philander] side or either, or, a keen sense of their history? Do they really understand their history, that they were brought from Malaysia in what--by the Dutch in 1650 or '60' [1560] or so to work--$$Not really, no, no. The only people in South African I know of who would have strong ties to the background would be the Malays. Many are Muslims, and they will actually go to Mecca [Saudi Arabia]. And even though they're living in the Southern tip of Africa. And so that would really be the only group that kept a connection.$$Oh, these are Malays, you said?$$Yeah.$$Who are Muslims?$$Who are Muslim, yeah.$$Okay, and now, your parents would be--what would they call them? Did they have a specific group that they associated themselves with, historically, or--$$No.$$--so they're basically a product of South Africa life, you know, after the--$$That's correct. There's a, there, yeah, it's come together, the very first people to get to South Africa were actually Portuguese. And then the Dutch, and then the British. And a little digression, it's been noted that (unclear) Brazil has relatively little racial tension in comparison with British colonies. The Portuguese colonies is less. And the reason people think, is the Portuguese were far more conservative than the British. So the British let women go to the colonies. When they got there, they kept themselves in a privileged position by ostracizing any man who associates with non-British women. And see, (unclear) we have trouble in the South here or wherever the British went. The Portuguese, there were no women (laughter). So they had far more intermarriage (laughter), far more. And so race relations are actually much more relaxed in the Portuguese colonies.$$And they would actually create families?$$Yeah, yeah, but in the case of the British, the women quickly realized you ostracize any man who does that. And so you have far more racial--anyway, it's a complicated--$$Okay, Vasco da Gama was there first, I think--$$Diaz, yeah.$$Or Bartholomew Diaz, yeah.$$Yeah.$$Yeah, now, 1480s, I think, right, 1480-something?$$Yeah, it was before Columbus [Christopher Columbus] came this way. They would--only recently I discovered why the--I thought they were looking for an easy route to the spices and so on. It turns out it was really part of the last Crusades. They repeatedly failed to conquer the Holy Land, going across land. So they thought they'd go the back way (laughter). And so these trips around the tip of Africa were actually to get to (laughter), to liberate the Holy Land from infidels.

E. Don Sarreals

Meteorologist E. Don Sarreals was born on September 22, 1931 in Winston Salem, North Carolina to parents Espriela Sarreals and Sadie Scales. While still a young child, Sarreal’s family migrated to New York City. He attended New York City Public School No. 46 and New York City Junior High School No. 164 before graduating from Bronx High School of Science in 1949. Sarreals went on to earn his B.S. degree in meteorology from the City Colleges of New York in 1955 and his his M.S. degree in meteorology from New York University in 1958.

Before his career as a meteorologist began, Sarreals served in the U.S. Army in 1954 and worked as a part-time lecturer while earning his graduate degree. In 1961, Sarreals began his career as a weather radar supervisor in the National Weather Service (NWS) New York Forecast Office. In 1976, Sarreals accepted a position as the television meteorologist for the National Broadcasting Corporation’s WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., from 1969 to 1975, while concurrently serving as president and consultant for Storm Finders, Inc. As the dissemination meteorologist for the NWS Headquarters from 1976 to 1980, Sarreals helped to develop the nation’s first government-funded radio working system, NOAA Weather Radio. Sarreals also worked as the television meteorologist for the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting. From 1980 to 1992, Sarreals was assigned as chief of Operations and Requirements for the Next Generation Weather Radar Project (NEXRAD). In 1984, Sarreals was appointed chairman of the Working Group for Doppler Radar Meteorological Observation. Sarreals also served as a staff member in the NWS Modernization Division, and as as assistant federal coordinator for DOC/NOAA/NWS Affairs in the Office of the Federal Coordination for Meteorological Service.

Sarreals is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, a recipient of the Ward Medal for proficiency in meteorology, and he is a member of the American Meteorological Society. Sarreals is also the author of the Federal Meteorological Handbook No. 1: National Weather Radio Operations supervised the development of Federal Meteorological Handbook No. 2: Doppler Weather Radar Observations. For his contributions and accomplishments, Sarreals was selected for inclusion in Who’s Who Among Black Americans.

E. Don Sarreals was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 15, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.010

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/15/2013

Last Name

Sarreals

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Don

Schools

P.S. 46 Arthur Tappan School

Junior High School 164

Bronx High School of Science

City College of New York

New York University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

E.

Birth City, State, Country

Winston-Salem

HM ID

SAR01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches, Southern United States

Favorite Quote

Oh My God!

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

9/22/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish, Flounder

Short Description

Atmospheric scientist E. Don Sarreals (1931 - ) is a leading Doppler radar specialist for the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Employment

National Weather Service Operations Branch

Nexrad Joint System Program Office

Working Group For Doppler Radar Meteorological Observation

National Weather Service Modernization Division

Office of Federal Coordinator For Meteorological Services

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Don Sarreals' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Don Sarreals lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Don Sarreals describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Don Sarreals talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Don Sarreals talks about his mother growing up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Don Sarreals describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Don Sarreals talks about his father's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Don Sarreals talks about his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Don Sarreals describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Don Sarreals describes the sights and sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Don Sarreals talks about growing up in New York (part 1)

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Don Sarreals talks about growing up in New York (part 2)

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Don Sarreals talks about his artistic talent

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Don Sarreals talks about playing tennis

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Don Sarreals talks about his experience at P.S.46 in Harlem, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Don Sarreals describes what inspired him to become a meteorologist

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Don Sarreals talks about the process of naming storms

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Don Sarreals talks about the quality of weather reporting prior to the advent of advanced communication technologies

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Don Sarreals describes his experience during the 1938 New England hurricane

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Don Sarreals talks about his experience at Bronx High School of Science

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Don Sarreals talks about his studies at City College of New York

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Don Sarreals talks about being drafted to the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Don Sarreals describes his experience in the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Don Sarreals talks about his return to City College of New York

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Don Sarreals talks about his experience teaching at City College of New York

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Don Sarreals talks about how he met his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Don Sarreals talks about why he chose not to write a thesis

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Don Sarreals talks about his experience of being recruited by CBS and NBC

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Don Sarreals describes how he helped Air Force One land during a storm

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Don Sarreals talks about being the first black professional meteorologist in the U.S.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Don Sarreals talks about his experience as a television meteorologist (part 1)

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Don Sarreals talks about his experience as a television meteorologist (part 2)

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Don Sarreals talks about the ratings at Channel 4

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Don Sarreals talks about the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Don Sarreals describes his mentor, Richard Holgren

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Don Sarreals talks about his company, Storm Finders

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Don Sarreals talks about his professional activities

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Don Sarreals talks about Doppler weather radar and the farmer's almanac

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Don Sarreals talks about his professional activities

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Don Sarreals shares his advice for aspiring meteorologists

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Don Sarreals discusses global warming and the effects of climate change

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Don Sarreals reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Don Sarreals talks about his family and his son's death

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Don Sarreals talks about his granddaughter's interest in meteorology

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Don Sarreals talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Don Sarreals describes his family photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

3$5

DATitle
Don Sarreals talks about his experience at Bronx High School of Science
Don Sarreals talks about his professional activities
Transcript
Okay. So now did you have a favorite teacher in junior high school [Junior High School 164]?$$In junior high school no, I can't identify a single teacher but it was a blessing to be in the, in what they called the rapid advanced course where they--other words you went into greater detail you know in, on every concept whether it was you know English. I think we started to take language, I think it was Spanish. What--you went deeper into what they knew about science at that time. They made learning mathematics a little more difficult but you advanced yourself. And at that time when I was interviewed as I was coming near, into, near the end of junior high school the, I guess the person who was in charge of interviewing the graduating students asked me what I wanted to be and I told him I wanted to be a meteorologist and he was shocked. And I told him what I'm telling you today that I had read 'Storm' [George R. Stewart] and blessedly because I said that that's how I got into the Bronx High School of Science or else I would have been sent to another school.$$Okay. So this is what year? What are we talking about now, this is--?$$(Unclear).$$And you would have been what thirteen or fourteen?$$Yes, right at that age. (Unclear).$$So 1940--$$So maybe about 1945 before I graduated from junior high school something like that, that I was asked and so my name was put on the list of students for Bronx High School of Science. It was very, very competitive. It was one of the highly rated schools in the country and a very serious school. You know they taught science in a broad range, great depth. Other words, biology, chemistry, physics whereas an ordinary high school it might be limited. A student might only have to take one type of science course. There you had to take just about everything in science to get started so you would know what, how to make a decision some day in the future about what you wanted to do in science.$$Okay. So were there very many other students from your neighborhood that were able to go to Bronx High School?$$No, there were not. There were--it was scattered all over the city. I ran track with a young man, I can't remember his name. He lived in Brooklyn and years later I saw him at a tract meet. He went to Brooklyn College when I went to City College [CUNY]. You know and there was one young lady I think you know she lived in Harlem [New York]. I'm talking about African Americans but there were very, very few.$$Okay. So you mentioned three. Were there anymore than three you think there?$$Yes, but it was a large school and so you know you didn't interface with everyone. You know you went to school, you get there on time, walk into a class and go to the next class. And in my case two or three days a week, maybe I practiced track or cross country. But you--there were so many students in that school you couldn't interface with them all. So I said there were several young African Americans I think who ran track. I met them and there was a young black lady in my class and she told me where she lived in Harlem and so forth. But you didn't actually have time. This was a serious school. You didn't have time to socialize, stand around and socialize a great degree.$$Okay, all right. So now what--with the idea that you're going to become a meteorologist, what was your focus in terms of study at Bronx High School or was there a focus?$$Well in the Bronx High School of Science, of course you can't specialize in that but the idea is to try to get good grades in mathematics and physics because meteorology is really the movement of air particles. It basically comes down to really being physics. It is--there are particles in motion. We call them raindrops, we call them air particles and wind and so forth but actually you saw what is going to happen by the laws of physics so to speak. So physics was very important and mathematics if you wanted to become a physical scientist. It's a form of physical science in other words, meteorology.$$Okay. Now were there any special teachers there in Bronx High School for Science?$$No, I can't remember. The only one I remember is someone I didn't like. In biology on all my tests I got a 98 or a 99 and New York State had a test they called the Regent Test. It was state wide. And while I was taking that in biology, a professor was--a teacher, high school teacher looked over my shoulder. He said you have two wrong and I looked up at him, I said, I know. It's a little funny story there. I was studying for the New York State Biology Regents and my mother [Sadie Beatrice Scales] called me to dinner. On one page of the book there was a one celled you know creature drawn out and inside there were parts of his body and you were supposed to learn that. And my mother called me to dinner and I didn't move right away and then she said there will be no dinner if you don't come. So I got up and I went. And when I came back to the book I went from the left page to the right page, I didn't go back to the first page. And one question was right from where I stopped and at the bottom of the page a new subject started and in the first few sentences there was something written that was the second question and so I got 98 on the Biology Regents instead of a hundred. And speaking of teachers, she--as a term grade she only gave me 95. So I went to her and asked, I said what are you doing? I said I never--I got 98 on the biology regents and on some of my tests I got a hundred, some 98, 99 in her tests. And well her attitude was she had to give somebody a lower score so she gave it to me if you--I was black in other words.$$So she had to give somebody a lower score to (unclear)?$$She wanted to make somebody seem as the best in the class and I just about was. And nobody else got--no one else got a hundred, but I always regret not getting that 100 just for a lifetime achievement if nothing else. But it was doing well in biology that made me turn temporarily to a thought of being a doctor because I did very well meteor--in biology without even trying. And it was later I would turn back to meteorology.$$Okay.$$But in the Bronx High School of Science, it turned me to into wanting to be a doctor temporarily.$$Okay. Now you say there weren't many, there weren't really any teachers that you really liked that much at Bronx High School. What--how were you generally treated, you and the other black students?$$I was treated fairly. The classes were large. Classes were very large and so there wasn't time for them to be very personal. The only person who could be kind to you, there was a track coach, Sam Levinson for example would talk to you or something as a human being. But the classes were so intense. You walk in, you sat down and you did not waste a minute and so there wasn't time for you know personal considerations for example. You just got in there and learned all that you could and then take that home and do your homework.$$Okay, all right. So you ran track I know and did you participate in any other student activities or did you have time for that?$$No, I did not. Remember, I was a poor young boy. I ran track and cross country in the fall and that was it.$Okay, all right. Okay. So now from '76 [1976] to '80 [1980], it says that you were the TV meteorologist for the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting too, right?$$Yes. While I was working on NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] Weather Radio, the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting wanted to have an agricultural program but they wanted a professional meteorologist on there. So the director assigned me to appear on the show. Now I did receive funds from the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting but that was permitted because I paid my own travel, I paid for my own clothes, you know to appear on the air and so forth. And so for a number of years I appeared on 'Up On The Farm' and provided weather broadcasts. And I had a talent which they enjoyed. For example, when apples let's say were being harvested they would name this type of apple is 40 percent--the red apples, they're 50 percent, 30 percent harvested and they would give this to me as I walked in the door. An hour later I would have it memorized and so I could not only do the weather but I would give this agricultural information. The brain was working well then, that's what I--let's put it that way.$$So you're pretty, you had a pretty sharp mind.$$Right, right.$$Yeah, okay, able to hold a lot of information. Let me--tell us about, did you have anything to do with the Joint Doppler Operational Project?$$JDOP [Joint Doppler Operational Project], that, that's specifically not--I worked with--I've forgotten what JDOP did. I--after I left NOAA Weather Radio, I joined the next generation weather radar project. It was a multi-agency office for the development of the nation's Doppler weather radar system. JDOP I believe, was an organization out in Norman, Oklahoma that was working on various aspects of Doppler weather radar. I was with the project to develop the program, select a contractor and eventually build a system for the United States of America and that included the United States Air Force, the Federal Aviation Agency and of course the Weather Service to serve the people. But I was with the, what they call NEXRAD.$$Okay.$$And I was Chief of Operations and Requirements originally to define the requirements of all three agencies, get that information to the contractor so they could develop the system properly. Others who had that task failed. I also became Chief of Training Program Development so I had two jobs. And then The Weather Service was supposed to develop Federal Meteorological Handbook No. 11, but it turned out for some reason they said they weren't able to. So Tony Durham, the manager of the NEXRAD program said you're going to have to be chairman of this too. So I was supposed to have one job, I wound up with three but the Federal Meteorological Handbook when finished was said worldwide to be an excellent document.

Gregory Jenkins

Atmospheric scientist Gregory S. Jenkins was born on May 13, 1963 in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child, Jenkins was fascinated by the weather. He received his B.S. degree in physics from Lincoln University in Lincoln, Pennsylvania in 1987. Jenkins went on to earn his M.S. and his Ph.D. degrees in atmospheric science from the University of Michigan in 1989 and 1991, respectively. His doctoral thesis was entitled, “An Investigation of Archean Climate using the NCAR CCM.”

In 1991, Jenkins began a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Atmospheric Science (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. Two years later, he became a research associate at the Earth Systems Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. In 1996, Jenkins served for a semester as an assistant professor of physics at Howard University before joining Pennsylvania State University as an assistant professor in the Department of Meteorology. He was promoted to associate professor at Pennsylvania State University in 2003. In the same year, he received the J. William Fulbright Research Award to go to Senegal and worked at Cheikh Anta Diop University on climate change research. Jenkins returned to Howard University in 2004 as an associate professor and director of Howard University’s Atmospheric Science Program. In 2006, he served as a United States African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA) committee member and downstream Special Observing Period 3 (SOP3) member. From 2007 to 2010, he held the position of Department of Physics and Astronomy chair. Jenkins’ research focused on tropical storm systems, monsoons and hurricanes. He has travelled all over the world to conduct his research including Senegal, Cape Verde and Barbados. Jenkins has published over forty peer-reviewed publications and was an editor and contributor to the text The Extreme Proterozoic: Geology, Geochemistry and Climate .

Jenkins has held memberships in the American Meteorological Society, National Society of Black Physicists, American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and served as an associated editor for AGU-Journal of Geophysical Research. He was the recipient of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award and the National Technical Association (NTA) Technical Achiever of the Year Award. Jenkins lives in Washington, D.C.

Gregory S. Jenkins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 29, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.150

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/29/2012

Last Name

Jenkins

Maker Category
Marital Status

Seperated

Schools

Lincoln University

University of Michigan

St. Agatha Elementary School

West Philadelphia Catholic High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Gregory

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

JEN08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Senegal, West Africa

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

5/13/1963

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Ceebu Jen

Short Description

Atmospheric scientist Gregory Jenkins (1963 - ) , a leader in the study of tropical weather systems and hurricanes, served as the director of Howard University’s Atmospheric Science Program and a committee member of United States African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA).

Employment

National Center for Atmospheric Research

Pennsylvania State University

Howard University

Penn State University

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gregory Jenkins's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gregory Jenkins lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gregory Jenkins describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gregory Jenkins describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his father's experience in the U.S. Army

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his family and growing up in Philadelphia

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gregory Jenkins describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gregory Jenkins describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his childhood interest in science and weather

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gregory Jenkins talks about going to Catholic schools and his experience in Catholic church growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his interest in the weather

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his interest in math and science and his lack of interest in English in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his family struggles

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his high school experience, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his high school experience, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his sister, Renee and the influence she had on him.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his interest in basketball

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his lack of guidance for college

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his academically challenging experiences at Drexel University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his experience at Philadelphia Community College and decision to attend Lincoln University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his mentors at Lincoln University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his road trip to Michigan and his mentor, atmospheric scientist Warren Washington

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gregory Jenkins describes his dissertation research concerning the Archean climate

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Gregory Jenkins talks about the importance of cultural communities within academic institutions

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his experience at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, part 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his experience at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, part 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his experiences at Pennsylvania State University and Howard University

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his West African climate change research

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his professional activities and publications

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his passion for his work in Africa

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Gregory Jenkins talks about Africa's influence on weather events

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Gregory Jenkins talks about the equipment needed to conduct his research and impediments to conducting his research in Senegal

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his experience at the American Meteorological Society Conference

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Gregory Jenkins talks about the lack of sustainable infrastructure in disenfranchised communities

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Gregory Jenkins talks about African contributions to the academy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Gregory Jenkins talks about the documentary on the 2010 Hurricane Field Campaign

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Gregory Jenkins talks about including his students in his research and field studies abroad

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Gregory Jenkins reflects upon his life and legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Gregory Jenkins talks about the issues surrounding climate change and Africa's significance in understanding it

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Gregory Jenkins talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Gregory Jenkins talks about the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Gregory Jenkins talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$8

DAStory

3$3

DATitle
Gregory Jenkins talks about his childhood interest in science and weather
Gregory Jenkins talks about the issues surrounding climate change and Africa's significance in understanding it
Transcript
Okay, so when you were a kid growing up, what were you mainly interested in doing, and what did you do? What was your personality like?$$The thing is, I was always interested in the stuff that typical kids are interested in. I wanted to be on the basketball court. I loved Dr. "J" [Julius Erving, Philadelphia 76ers]. I love all of it, okay. And that was just part of me, but there was this curiosity for science and mainly, weather, nature. I had a really, I have a good friend. His dad would take me and my brother to, and John, my friend, his son, to the University of Penn [Pennsylvania], and we'd go to the Observatory and, you know, to gaze at the stars. That, that along with my interests of weather, you know, something that was always there. I mean like, for weather, you didn't really have to go far. You could go outside your door and you could see, wow, these are really big, violent thunderstorms or two feet of snow. I mean it was there. So it was like, the laboratory was already there for me. So that was always a curiosity, and I was, I was constantly interested in learning more and more about it. So I would go to the free library, which was kind of far away, but I would check out books about weather. And, you know, I'd look at these equations. I'm like, what are--how is this related to (laughter) understanding this phenomena? Their books were always too far above me in terms of the math, like, hum, I didn't know what Calculus was at that time. But my interests was always there. So my interest in natural, in physical sciences were always there. As far, I mean I don't know how far back that goes. But it's just always been part of me even to this day. So I feel the same way if you see me in West Africa, and I'm looking at these forecasts. I'm looking at the satellite images of this big dust storm that's projected to come two days away, and I'm excited. I'm waking up in the morning. I'm taking pictures of the sun. I'm, I was the same way before a big snowstorm, like when is it gonna happen? Okay, why didn't it happen? Okay, why did it rain instead of snow? You know, these are always things that drove me, in addition to basketball and all the other stuff that kids do.$$So you've always been interested in the weather.$$Yeah.$$Is there any, your friend's father, you said--$$Yeah.$$--did he work for the Observatory?$$No, he just, he would--$$He just liked to take the kids to the--$$He had colleagues at Penn [Pennsylvania State University]. I mean he didn't work down at Penn, but he had colleagues there, and I used to think he was also a science enthusiast. So I think it was just something that he did anyway. And, for me, it was like, you know, this is great stuff, like--and I think that living in the city, you often don't see enough of the sky. But I was often like interested, like there's the "Belt of Orion". Why is it here in January, but then other times of year, I can't see it that well? Why did it move? You know, those were more curiosities, not knowing that it was the Belt of Orion, just like the way the stars lined up or they lined up or why is this--which I didn't know it was Venus at the time, why is it so bright? You know, what is it, and there was not really enough. There was no one I could talk to and say, you know, is that Venus over there? But the main thing was the library and then once in a while being able to go down to the Observatory to feed your, to feed your hunger for knowledge.$$So the Observatory was at the Franklin Institute or--$$It wasn't in the Franklin. It was on the University of Penn's campus. Now, I did go to the Franklin Institute. I did go to the Natural Academy of Sciences. I loved going to those places. Those were places where I felt like, wow, this is right where I belong, yeah.$Okay, now, do you have a big project ahead of you that you would to, is there something that you could wrap up that you'd wanna do before you, you know, or do you see things in more of an ongoing--$$I think it's always ongoing. The key question for climate change that I'm really trying to struggle with is will it be wetter or drier? And there are competing hypothesis that I would like to test out over the next few years. I still won't know 'cause we have to see it play out (laughter). That's the only thing, but it would certainly be nice to tell policymakers, this is where our confidence is. You know, we feel pretty strongly about this, and we feel pretty strongly about that. But my, my intuition tells me, Mother Earth is not gonna tell us that, that we're going to have to be aware. It's gonna be happening in real time. You're gonna know after the fact, but you'd better prepare for all scenarios. You'd better think about protecting all of your citizens. On another angle with respect to atmospheric chemistry, we've been looking at the role of dust and how it changed ozone, a major, is the greenhouse gas, but it's also a pollutant. And we've seen some just amazing stuff from Africa that lightening, the lightening stroke itself produces so much natural ozone above 8,000, 10,000, 12,000 feet, like, like, just amazing, just, it, you cannot predict. You can only observe. Our observations that we've taken over the last two years, have just blown us away. We're trying to contextualize that in terms of the science that we know and the processes that we know. But we know that there is so much to it, that, like, I will never, I won't be here to fully appreciate all of that. But it's leaving so much room for new scholars to say, look, we're gonna go out. We're gonna need aircraft. We're gonna go explore. We're gonna try to understand this. We're gonna develop a new model. We're gonna do that, we're gonna do that. So much. There's such a, such a wealthy--Africa is wealthy not just for minerals and oil and all those other things. It's wealthy because of its people. It's wealthy because of the knowledge that it's constantly teaching you. You know, it's not, there is no end of the chapter. The book never closes.

Derrick Pitts

Astronomer Derrick Pitts was born on January 22, 1955 in the Tioga-Nicetown section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child, Pitts was fascinated by outer space and rockets. After graduating from Germantown Academy, he received his B.S. degree in geology from St. Lawrence University in 1978.

Pitts began working at The Franklin Institute as a young college student. He was hired as The Franklin Institute’s chief astronomer and planetarium director after completing his degree. In these roles, he developed and oversaw all of the Institute’s astronomy and space-related programs and exhibits, frequently hosted the live “Sky Tonight” planetarium show and interviewed John Glenn and Carl Sagan. Pitts also served as the original director of Tuttleman OMNIMAX Theater and as museum vice president. In 2002, he oversaw the renovation of The Franklin Institute’s Fels Planetarium and played an integral role in the design of the new astronomy exhibit, ‘Space Command.’ Pitts became the host of “SkyTalk” on WHYY Radio in 2008. One year later, he served as the United States spokesperson for the International Year of Astronomy. In 2011, Pitts was named a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Solar System Ambassador. He has appeared on many national television shows as a science expert including the Comedy Channel’s “Colbert Report” and “The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson.” Pitts served as a regular contributor on Current TV’s Countdown with Keith Olberman as well as programs on CNN International and MSNBC.

Pitts has held numerous positions in academic and community organizations including serving as president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. and on the Board of Trustees for his alma mater St. Lawrence University and Widener University. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Mayor’s Liberty Bell, the St. Lawrence University Distinguished Alumni Award, the G. W. Carver Medal and Please Touch Museum’s “Great Friend To Kids” Award. Pitts was inducted into the Germantown Historical Society Hall of Fame and selected as one of the “50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science” by Science Spectrum Magazine in 2004. He received the 2010 David Rittenhouse Award and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from LaSalle University in 2011. Pitts lives with his wife Linda in the Wynnefield Heights section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Derrick Pitts was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 23, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.119

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/23/2012 |and| 3/25/2013

Last Name

Pitts

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

H.

Schools

Cleveland Elementary School

Elizabeth Duane Gillespie Junior High School

Germantown Academy

St. Lawrence University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Derrick

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

PIT29

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Lucia

Favorite Quote

Sure, Why Not.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

1/22/1955

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lamb Biryani

Short Description

Atmospheric scientist Derrick Pitts (1955 - ) was the chief astronomer and planetarium director for Philadelphia’s The Franklin Institute. As a noted scientist, he also appeared on national television programs.

Employment

Sackner Pharmacy

Sherwin Williams

Upholsters International Union

Franklin Institute

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Derrick Pitts slates the interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts talks about his mother's career ambitions

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts talks about meeting his grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts talks about his father's life and career

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Derrick Pitts talks about how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts talks about his father's military experience

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts talks about the similarities between him and his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts talks about his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts talks about his early appreciation for science

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Derrick Pitts talks about what his father taught him about the moon

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts talks about his scientific philosophy

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts discusses how astronomical events excited him about science

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts talks about his relationship with his brother

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts talks about the role of church in his life

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts discusses the conflict between religion and science

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Derrick Pitts talks about his experience at Gillespie Junior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Derrick Pitts describes how his neighborhood street helped him understand the sky

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Derrick Pitts talks about his childhood role model and favorite television show

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts talks about his junior high school mentors

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts describes one of his favorite science demonstrations

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts shares what inspires him to be a scientist and educator

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts talks about his experience at Gillespie Junior High School

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts talks about seeing the first moon landing

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Derrick Pitts talks about the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Derrick Pitts talks about his experience at Georgetown Academy

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Derrick Pitts talks about the schools that he and his brother attended

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts talks about his mentors in high school

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts talks about his favorite music teacher and his experience in the choir

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts talks about the first African American teacher at Germantown Academy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts talks about his academic struggles and social triumphs

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts talks about his best friend from Germantown Academy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Derrick Pitts talks about his experience at Germantown Academy

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Derrick Pitts talks about his decision to go to St. Lawrence University

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Derrick Pitts talks about learning how to be a better student

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts talks about his experience at St. Lawrence University

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts reflects on his career ambitions prior to graduating

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts discusses why he never went to graduate school

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts talks about his career

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts talks about the effect he has on youth by being on TV

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Derrick Pitts interview, session 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts remembers his job offer at The Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts talks about his first position at The Franklin Institute Science Museum observatory

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts describes the observatory at The Franklin Institute Science Museum

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts explains the difference between observatories and planetariums

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts remembers his early career options

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Derrick Pitts recalls his early years at The Franklin Institute Science Museum

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Derrick Pitts talks about his early roles at The Franklin Institute Science Museum

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Derrick Pitts remembers the leading directors at the Fels Planetarium

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Derrick Pitts remembers the Fels Planetarium's early directors

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts talks about Benjamin Franklin and his interest in science

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts describes his role as show producer at the Fels Planetarium at The Franklin Institute Science Museum, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts talks about the influence of the television show 'Cosmos: A Personal Voyage' and its host Carl Sagan

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts remembers Carl Sagan

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts describes his role as show producer at the Fels Planetarium at The Franklin Institute Science Museum, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Derrick Pitts remembers the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Derrick Pitts recalls his press conference following the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Derrick Pitts reflects upon the impact of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts talks about his interest in science and astronomy

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts describes the history of planetariums

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts explains the use of an observatory

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts talks about the black community's reception to his career success

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts talks about the impact of new technologies at The Franklin Institute Science Museum

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Derrick Pitts describes his typical workday and how it's impacted his personal life

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Derrick Pitts remembers his promotions

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Derrick Pitts talks about African Americans at The Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts talks about African Americans in the field of astronomy

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts talks about the impact of IMAX technology

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts describes the organizational restructuring at The Franklin Institute Science Museum

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts remembers developing the television program 'Neptune All Night'

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts describes the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI)

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Derrick Pitts talks about the impact of the internet on astronomy

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Derrick Pitts describes his work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Derrick Pitts remembers considering leaving The Franklin Institute Science Museum in the late 1990s

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts recalls his work on a cruise ship to view a total solar eclipse, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts recalls his work on a cruise ship to view a total solar eclipse, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts remembers the hiring of Dennis Wint at The Franklin Institute Science Museum

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts describes Dennis Wint

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts recalls his appearances on 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann'

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Derrick Pitts talks about the renovations of the Joel N. Bloom Observatory at The Franklin Institute Science Museum

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Derrick Pitts talks about the developments at The Franklin Institute Science Museum

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Derrick Pitts talks about African American representation in the sciences

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts describes his work with the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts talks about his civic work in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts remembers Major General Charles Bolden, Jr.

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts recalls the star party at the White House

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts talks about the future of The Franklin Institute Science Museum

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Derrick Pitts describes his work on national television programs as a science communicator

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Derrick Pitts describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Derrick Pitts describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Derrick Pitts reflects upon his life

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Derrick Pitts reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Derrick Pitts describes Neil deGrasse Tyson

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Derrick Pitts talks about his family

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Derrick Pitts reflects upon the state of STEM education

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Derrick Pitts talks about developing children's interest in science

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Derrick Pitts recalls the Chelyabinsk Event

Tape: 13 Story: 9 - Derrick Pitts describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

8$3

DATitle
Derrick Pitts describes how his neighborhood street helped him understand the sky
Derrick Pitts reflects on his career ambitions prior to graduating
Transcript
Okay, and I think I read also that you, when you discovered, I mean the layout of the neighborhood helped you to look at the sky.$$Oh, yes. So there were a couple of things I realized about the street that I lived on. After I started to read about astronomy and then understand about the motions of the sun, moon and planets and the sky and the orientation that we have on the planet and our relationship as, you know, living on the surface, looking at the sky and those sorts of things, I began to understand something about the orientation of the street I lived on. And the 1700 block of 17th, 1700 block Pacific Street, runs East-West. On the Eastern end of the street is Roche (ph.) Farm Market where we'd go to buy eggs, scrapple, bacon, chicken, stuff like that. Over hear on the Western end is 18th Street, and then the 1800 block and going up to 20th Street and beyond. But I recognize that this is an East-West street. Now, across from us is this "T" intersection that's just about two houses over to the East from us. So there's a street that's now running North-South that intersects with this East-West street. And what I notice is that the sun rises down here over Roche's Farm Market, passes high overhead and sets down here on this end of the street. And I notice that on Bovere (ph.) Street in the summer, when the sun is high in the sky in the middle of the day, the entire street is illuminated. But in the morning, the Western side of the street is illuminated and the Eastern side isn't. It's in shadow because the sun hasn't come across. And as the sun passes, the reverse happens. The Western side of the street is in the shade. The Eastern side is illuminated. So I'm beginning to recognize that at high noon in the summer, this street is fully illuminated, no shadows at all. So I can now read the motion of whatever it is, the earth or the sun. I'm reading one of these, and so I'm starting to think about mechanics, planetary mechanics. So I realize that in the, in the room that I have, in my room growing up, the room I sleep in, I can look out a window that looks to the West. But since we're a row house, there's another house right across from my window, not fifteen feet away. Looking at the wall of that house, of course, is the matching window on the other side. But above that window is a course of bricks, coming down from the roof, down to the top of the window. In the morning, what I can do is I can look out, and I can see this course of bricks. And depending on how many of the courses of bricks are illuminated, I can determine what time it is because of the rising sun. So now, this becomes a celestial clock for me. It's like a sundial or any other kind of, you know, solar clock because I can use the divisions to mark time. And that's what I do with it. I use those divisions to mark time. And I can put this together with the illumination of the street and all this other sort of stuff and have a much better grip or understanding on the motions of the earth on its axis and its motion through space during the course of the year because of the changing angle of sunlight through the course of the year. So now what happens is the world becomes a big solar clock for me because now I look at any building or any fixed object and say, hah, I can look at the shadow and figure out direction from that. And so that's what I begin to do. And so, now in my mind, I carry with me an image of any of these areas that I've lived or worked in that are fully illuminated and I can compare views of what they look like at different parts of the day with where I am to figure out direction.$$Okay.$$Just a fun little thing to play with.$$Now, did you watch the science TV shows like 'Watch Mr. Wizard' and--$$I did 'Watch Mr. Wizard'. I saw Mr. Wizard, not all the time, but I did see Mr. Wizard. Any other science programs that were on, I watched. So in, by 1966, 'Star Trek' is now available. And I begin to watch 'Star Trek' as much as I can. There are other science programs on, but they're pretty cheesy. You know, there's the 'Time Machine', and there's 'Lost in Space', and you know, 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' and these are all these, you know, sort of Irwin Allen, cheesy, you know, productions of all this stuff that happens. And I remember that there are two programs that I'm really enthralled with. One is 'Sea Hunt', starring Lloyd Bridges, Mike Nelson. He's a scuba diver. So, you know, I've also got this interest in scuba diving too because it's the undersea world. So I watch that all the time. And then once 'Star Trek' becomes available, I start to watch 'Star Trek' whenever I can. And 'Star Trek' really, now, begins to embody this fantasy about this future society that travels in space freely, has all the technological advantages that anybody would wanna have and is going around exploring the galaxy at warp speed. What could be better?$$Okay, we're gonna pause right here.$Okay, now, when you're on the verge of graduation, what are you thinking about the next step? Are you going to graduate school now?$$Well, on the verge of graduating I'm thinking, hum, I don't know what I wanna do in graduate school yet. So, let me take some time off and I'll, I'll get a job and do a little work and earn some money and figure out what I wanna do. So the catch here is that in the summer of 1976 and the summer of 1977, I'm back here in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]--well, 1976, I'm here for the whole summer. 1977, I'm here for part of the summer. So in 1976, I have a job, I've found a job. I apply to four places around Philadelphia. I can only remember two of them now. One of them is the Tasty Baking Company [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] that's in the neighborhood near where I live, and the other one is the Franklin Institute Science Museum [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. So I get a job. I'm hired at the Franklin Institute Science Museum. And I apply for a job as a, you know, I come in looking for a job as a science explainer. The head of security wants to make me a security guard because I'm a tall guy. And I explain to him, no, I'm not here for a security position. I'm here for a science explainer position. And he can't quite seem to get that through his head that I'm not here to do security. He automatically assumes that I'm gonna be a security guy. No, I'm not. So, I finally go to interview with the director of personnel for the museum at that time, a guy named Don Gates. And I say to Don, I'm here to be a science explainer. I'm not here to be a security guy. And he asked me about my education. And he says, yeah, you should be a science explainer. So I get a job in the summer of 1976 as a science explainer. And I worked the hours two to ten p.m. I come in at two o'clock in the afternoon. I work until ten o'clock at night. We're open that late because the expectation is that during the summer of 1976, there's gonna be a huge crowd of people coming to the Franklin Institute in the evening to celebrate the bicentennial. Hardly anybody comes. So I'm here with a great group of other college students who are also hired to be science explainers. And we all learn all kinds of skills from each other. This is where I learned how to juggle and all kinds of crazy things like that. But we also do incredible science demonstrations. The best I've ever seen were done during these times when I was here as a science explainer. And I also spend most of my time in the observatory working with two University of Pennsylvania graduate students in astronomy. Gopaul (ph.) Colaumbi (ph.) and Carol Ambrewster (ph.). They both graduated PhD from University of Pennsylvania. I do not know where Gopaul went to, but I do know that Carol Ambrewster ended up as a professor at Villanova [University, Villanova, Pennsylvania]. She's still there or has retired just recently. There was another PhD candidate called Tony Hull, who worked here. And I learned a tremendous amount from those three, just a tremendous amount from those three. And they really began to shape my career as a science explainer in astronomy. Tony Hull, I have heard from every now and then. He left the Franklin Institute, left Philadelphia, became an instrument designer for a group called 'Perkin-Elmer', an optical company. And I would hear from him every now and then; never heard from Gopaul Colaumbi ever again and occasionally heard from Carol Ambrewster now and then. So, I go back to school, finish out that year, come back to Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] in the summer, work for half a summer here at Franklin Institute and then go do geology field, my geology field studies for the rest of that summer; go back and finish my senior year. One geology course and two physics courses and astronomy, some environmental studies stuff and some humanities stuff. And in about April, March--no, it was actually, it was actually March of that year, I get a letter from the Director of Education, the Assistant Director of Education, Charles Penneman (ph.) offering me a job at the Franklin Institute, a full-time position when I graduate. So I leave school. I know what I'm gonna do. I have a job, and it's gonna pay me $7,000.00 a year. Wow, fantastic. So I come to the Franklin Institute and start work here. And my plan is I'm gonna work for a year or two and then I'm gonna go to graduate school. I'm either gonna go in geology or astronomy. I don't know which one. But I get to Franklin Institute and I have the most remarkable experience. I have this fantastic job, explaining science to people, helping people understand how science works, how the process of science works and what science really is. And I've now learned a ton about this from my work as a geology student at St. Lawrence University [Canton, New York] and as a physics student at St. Lawrence University. I also learn a bunch of chemistry stuff because I'm also doing environmental studies on the side. So I learn all this stuff about the process of science from all these guys at St. Lawrence University. There's a whole bunch of other people I haven't mentioned, but they were all in there. And I bring that to bear here at the work that I start doing at Franklin. So I'm here for a year or two, and they offer me a higher position, more challenging with more stuff to do. One of those jobs is, we want you to concentrate on working in the observatory. I say, wow, great. I'd love to do that. So I figure I'll spend a couple of years doing this, and I figure I'm gonna spend five years, and then I'm gonna make a decision and get out of here. The end of the fifth year, I get an offer to do the next higher level thing. And my career here at Franklin has been exactly that. Every five years I've been offered something better and greater to do. And every, and every one of those five years, it has been a tremendous experience of new and better and greater stuff. And so I've never been able to leave because I've always had these new, better experiences.

Warren Morton Washington

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.

Accession Number

A2006.080

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/20/2006

Last Name

Washington

Maker Category
Middle Name

Morton

Schools

Jefferson High School

Oregon State University

Pennsylvania State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Warren

Birth City, State, Country

Portland

HM ID

WAS03

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Oregon

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France, Italy

Favorite Quote

Nobody loves me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Colorado

Birth Date

8/28/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Denver

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Italian Food

Short Description

Atmospheric scientist Warren Morton Washington (1936 - ) developed one of the first atmospheric computer models of the earth's climate, and was elected chairman of the National Science Board in 2002 and 2004.

Employment

National Center for Atmospheric Research

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Warren Washington interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Warren Washington recalls his mother's family and her life history

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Warren Washington discusses the lives of his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Warren Washington recounts his maternal grandparents' move from Texas to Oregon

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Warren Washington recalls the history of his great-grandparents and the origin of his last name

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Warren Washington describes his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Warren Washington discusses his father's family history

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Warren Washington discusses his father's employment and the hospital where he was born

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Warren Washington recalls his maternal lineage

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Warren Washington shares his earliest memories of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Warren Washington recalls his experiences growing up in a mixed neighborhood and the racial tensions in Oregon during the 1940s and 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Warren Washington remembers how he would spend the summers of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Warren Washington recalls his time in elementary school and high school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Warren Washington recalls his fondness of public libraries while he was growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Warren Washington remembers teachers who inspired him

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Warren Washington describes his job during college and his first car

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Warren Washington recalls the Civil Rights Movement and his involvement with the NAACP

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Warren Washington describes racial attitudes in Oregon during the 1940s and 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Warren Washington recalls the impact of World War II on his family

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Warren Washington recalls his feelings of discouragement during high school

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Warren Washington shares his impressions of entering college

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Warren Washington discusses his determination to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Warren Washington describes some of his experiences during college

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Warren Washington recalls having segregated fraternities and sororities on campus

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Warren Washington stresses the importance of diversity in higher education organizations

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Warren Washington discusses the importance of diversity in science

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Warren Washington recalls his fraternity

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Warren Washington discusses his career path after graduating from college

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Warren Washington talks about his work with early computers

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Warren Washington talks about starting his graduate work

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Warren Washington explains the background of his graduate thesis

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Warren Washington discusses how he became an adjunct associate professor

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Warren Washington recalls the racial tensions on a college campus during the late 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Warren Washington recalls his experience first working for the National Center for Atmospheric Research

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Warren Washington discusses African American scientific communities

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Warren Washington describes his work under several presidencies

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Warren Washington recalls his first experiences as a scientific advisor

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Warren Washington talks about connecting science to greater societal issues

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Warren Washington talks about explaining his work to his parents and the publication of his book

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Warren Washington recounts a few of his presidential appointments

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Warren Washington recalls his experiences working with the president's chief of staff

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Warren Washington shares how he responds to a special request from the president's chief of staff

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Warren Washington describes the process of building more complex computer models for climate prediction

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Warren Washington relates the importance of creating better weather prediction models

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Warren Washington discusses his beliefs on the social impacts of global warming

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Warren Washington shares his thoughts on Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Warren Washington describes an incident in which he provides testimony before Congress

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Warren Washington describes working under different presidents

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Warren Washington discusses his thoughts on global warming and meeting Vice President Gore

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Warren Washington recounts his experiences as a mentor and role model

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Warren Washington describes the awards he has received

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Warren Washington describes his most rewarding professional achievement

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Warren Washington considers his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Warren Washington comments on the importance of young people to consider a career in science

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Introduction to Warren Washington's interview

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Warren Washington describes his family background and educational history

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Overview of Warren Washington's family's migration to Portland, their early life there and his interest in science

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Warren Washington talks about his early interest in science and his decision to pursue science in college

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Warren Washington describes his involvement in the youth chapter of the NAACP

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Warren Washington describes his experience at Oregon State University

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Warren Washington talks about studying physics at Oregon State University, and his introduction to the mathematical modeling

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Warren Washington describes his experience at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Warren Washington talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Warren Washington describes his decision to join the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Warren Washington describes his experience in Boulder, Colorado in the 1960s, and his encounter with journalist, Dan Rather, in 1968

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Warren Washington describes his service on the National Science Board

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Warren Washington talks about working with President George H.W. Bush's administration

Tape: 7 Story: 14 - Warren Washington talks about the evolution of computer processing capabilities, and his work on climate models at NCAR

Tape: 7 Story: 15 - Warren Washington shares his perspective on the debate on climate change and global warming

Tape: 7 Story: 16 - Overview of Warren Washington's awards and achievements

Tape: 7 Story: 17 - Warren Washington discusses the significance of climate change

Tape: 7 Story: 18 - Warren Washington reflects upon his legacy and how he wants to be remembered