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Tony Busalacchi As we move into the holiday season of this unusual year, I want to provide you with an update on events at UCAR and NCAR.

Our campuses remain closed to all non-essential scientific visitors, as well as to the public. The organization continues to be in an expanded essential staff phase, which means that about 5-15% of staff are on site while the rest of us are teleworking. With COVID-19 cases increasing here in the Boulder area as well as across the country, we have decided that the majority of staff will continue to telework at least through the end of March. As I have said since the beginning of the pandemic, my top priority is the health and safety of staff.

I was very pleased with the success of our first-ever virtual Members Meeting in October. Sessions that were held by the UCAR Community Programs highlighted ways they can further help the community through remote teaching best practices, collaboration with university partners, and data resources. The NCAR sessions focused on initiating discussions with the broader community to get feedback on specific scientific themes that are being explored as part of the new NCAR Strategic Plan, such as convergent science and unified modeling.

The members elected three new institutional trustees:

  • Shuyi Chen, University of Washington
  • Susan Lozier, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Sandra Yuter, North Carolina State University

The members also elected two new trustees-at-large: Rita Colwell, the former NSF Director who is now with the University of Maryland, and Patty Leslie, who previously served as UCAR Chief Financial Officer and is now with the University of Colorado Foundation.

I am excited that UCAR also added a new member, University of Texas, El Paso, which is a minority-serving institution. In addition, the Board of Trustees, which held a virtual meeting during the same week as the Members Meeting, expressed its appreciation of UCAR’s ongoing pandemic response and planning. The trustees noted that UCAR’s finances remain strong, as evidenced by Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings and Moody’s Investor Service recently reaffirming UCAR’s A2 an A+ long-term bond ratings.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the February Board of Trustees meeting will also be held virtually.

I am excited to report that NCAR has named three new lab directors after conducting international searches. Each of the new directors is highly distinguished in her field and will bring fresh perspectives to NCAR research:

Holly Gilbert
Holly Gilbert, who served as director for the Heliophysics Science Division at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, is now leading the High Altitude Observatory (HAO).
Pieternel Levelt
Pieternel Levelt, the head of the R&D Satellite Observations department at The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute professor at Delft University of Technology, will lead the Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling Laboratory (ACOM).
Gretchen Mullendore
Gretchen Mullendore, a professor and chair of the atmospheric sciences department at the University of North Dakota, will lead the Mesoscale & Microscale Meteorology Laboratory (MMM).

I very much look forward to working with each of them.

In addition, UCAR has launched a search for a new Director of Government Relations & External Engagement. This is a high-profile position, reporting directly to me, that will lead the implementation of UCAR goals through the development of strategic partnerships with government and industry groups aligning with the NCAR/UCAR mission and our strategic priorities. Please feel free to share this opening with your networks. We are accepting applications through Dec. 27. More information about the position, including how to apply, can be found here.

I am also pleased that construction continues to move ahead on the NCAR Research Aviation Facility. The roofing and exterior siding are virtually completed, and much of the interior work is nearing completion as well. The next steps will be construction on Hangar A and the new Hangar B dock, as well as such building finishes as tile and millwork. We are anticipating that the work will wrap up in March. The new building, at 42,391 square feet, will be more than twice the size of the previous building, and it will offer state-of-the-art facilities for scientists at NCAR and the university community for calibrating instruments, planning field campaigns, conducting briefings, making logistics decisions, and engaging in real-time remote participation in field projects.

A new Research Aviation Facility is under construction in Broomfield, Colorado. Image: Milender White Construction

Finally, I want to let you know that the UCAR COMET Program has partnered with NSF to map MetEd lesson content to U.S. university meteorology course curricula. Support packages for Dynamic Meteorology, Thermodynamic Meteorology, and Introduction to Meteorology courses are now available. Complementary course imagery collections and additional university course mappings, including synoptic meteorology and more, will be released throughout this academic year. The goal is to support university faculty and students in their increasingly virtual learning environment. More information, including the course downloads, can be found here.

I wish continued good health to all of you, and best wishes for this holiday season. The challenges over the past year have been unprecedented in many ways, but we are all looking forward to better times in 2021. Happy New Year, and stay well.

Antonio J. Busalacchi

In From the UCAR President I highlight recent events that I believe are significant for our community. I look forward to any feedback that you may have. Please email me at with comments or suggestions. 

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